From the rocks she jumps straight into the boat, no hesitation. Her little sister just did the same but came back. They talk to each other, maybe something about not being able to get the engine running. Because she tried and it wasn’t working. Now the older of the two is trying. There’s no grown up to help them. Just us, but we don’t know anything about boats. They don’t ask if we do. They got it all under control, these two. It’s their boat. They’ll make it run. We’re just waiting and looking at the scenery around us.
Nature is beautiful here. To stop there and not tell you more about exactly how overwhelmingly, breathtakingly beautiful this place is would be a mistake. Yet it feels like the only thing I can do, because I could never put into words just how…well, overwhelmingly and breathtakingly beautiful this place really is.
It’s just something you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s the hills turning in to mountains turning in to hills in rapid succession. It’s how forests, in a shade of green you couldn’t fake, dot these mountainsides in ways that make you wonder how they got there and, more importantly, how they stay alive when they seem to grow on nothing but rocks. It’s the water everywhere, small ponds and lakes you can’t see the other side when it’s foggy. The nature gives you a new surprise around every corner of small roads they call highways, because the terrain doesn’t allow for anything more than, at most, three lanes and speed limit of a mere 80 km/h. Yet here that limit is just right, because it allows you take it all in.
It’s a theory of mine that when the Norsemen dreamt up Valhalla—the heavens from stories they tell their children when celebrating the Midsummer Sun—they where actually thinking of this place. I’m pretty sure it’s what I’d make my version of heaven look like, would I get the job.
And that’s what it feels like when we drift into Rekefjord, heaven like. There used to be a customs office here, but that was a long time ago. There’s nothing here now, mostly. There’s a bunch of rocks in a way that couldn’t have been done by nature, although you never quite now here. That’s where the office was. Ships coming from all over Europe stopped here to declare their goods, or whatever they did at customs back then. There’s just a small plank sticking out onto the water now. “We use it to jump in the water,” Marie tells us.
Marie is the one who got the boat running in the end. Hanna is the one that didn’t. But there’s no sign that’s a big deal for them. Its just two sisters and their boat. Hanna will get it to run next time. The age gap is 1,5 year but where Marie’s English is surprisingly good, her younger sister doesn’t seem to speak any. Or maybe she’s just a little shy. It took Hanna quite some days to acknowledge our existence and now she wanted to show us around on their boat, so she’s getting used to us.
It went the way most things seem to go in Norway. Marie and Hanna wil take you out on their boat tomorrow, their mother told us. In the same way we were notified that we’d been invited to go out on a speedboat, catch some crabs, see the region and join a birthday party. It’s just what they do. They invite you and you go, because why wouldn’t you? It will be fun, that’s what they say. And they’re always right.
So we went out on the boat and no other grown ups joined. Because they don’t need to, the kids know what they’re doing here. It took some getting used to. But I see it now. Kids are actually quite smart, it’s just that where I come from most parents think their kids aren’t that bright, or won’t manage or can’t help themselves. But they’ll be fine, that’s what the Norwegian parents seem to say; the kids are alright.
And they sure seem to be at the moment, steering the boat effortlessly through the fjords of this kommune. Showing you around, hoping you see it: what Norway looks like in their eyes. Because the Norwegians are a proud people. Proud of the nature here, of the mountains, the trees, the wildlife. Yet, proud in a good way. They don’t keep it to themselves. This nature needs to be shared, they seem to say. So you can camp for free, walk anywhere you like, start a fire…the only thing you need is common sense and you’ll be quite fine.
The little boat docks in exactly the same spot. Hanna jumps out to secure it while Marie is taking care of the engine; it has to be taken out of the water and fastened, she knows that. They know everything. They’re children, but I mean…they’re not children.