Friday, April 22, 2011

Tabula rasa.

Just as we finished the arm wrestling match the reporter from the newspaper walked in the door and joined us. Seems his office was just a few blocks away and he'd heard we were at Cafe Natur for lunch. How this happened is anybody's guess, but in this case I think Pall called him, assuming that the tavern was comfortable environment for all parties involved. Introductions were made and Bonnie spent the next forty minutes answering questions. I think it was disconcerting to be the subject of an interview, but she soon found her sea legs and was explaining our intentions in terms of 'promoting cultural exchange' and 'global education'. When asked about why she chose the Faroe Islands she made a joke about throwing a dart at the map. Her answer mimicked a feeling widely held among Faroese that their country is often overlooked in the world. By responding in this fashion she was able to side step revealing that our trip to the Faroes was, in fact, an expedition. We wanted to learn and did not want to be fed 'party lines' because we'd been pigeon-holed in the minds of the Faroese by repeating the mistakes of others that came before us. We wanted a clean slate.

When the interview was over we walked across the street and down a winding lane between the buildings of the Tinganes until we reached a rocky peninsula upon which the ancient council originally met. Careful examination of the rocks revealed petroglyphs, runes and symbols carved long ago by inhabitants of the islands. Here was another striking similarity between the Faroes and Hawaii. I added it to the list as we posed for a series of photographs, thinking about our place in the long line of visitors to this storied place.

What had life been like here 1200 years earlier? How did people survive? What did they eat? How long was the growing season? I tried to imagine a long, wet Winter, dark as a coal sack and cold enough to crack bones. How did one grow and store enough food to last until Spring?

Families and villages must have had to work hard, day in and day out for as long as plants could grow. They would have fished and dried their catch, salted or pickled it, anything to make it last. Sheep would have been a welcome staple, both for wool and mutton. And Pilot Whales? Their appearance offshore in pods large and small would have seemed like a gift from God.

We parted company with the reporter and Pall, who lived close by and said he would walk, and gathered at the car to decide what to do. We had most of the afternoon remaining and lots of light. I broke out my map and opened it up on the hood of the car. After a few minutes discussion we decided to find the shopping mall in town, then return to Leynar to drop off Gabe, Louis and Cristof. Then Bonnie, Larina and I would drive out to Vestmanna, a town far up one of the islands fjords.

All around us life in Torshavn proceeded apace. We were part of the landscape now and as long as we didn't open our mouths we fit right in. Kind of. We piled in to the car. Bonnie drove and I navigated and we drove off in search of the largest shopping mall in the Faroe islands.

(to be continued.)

(Thank you for reading. It means more than you know. Aloha, D.)


  1. I know these words might be just pixels on a screen but I'd like you to know I mean every single one of them.

    Thank you so much for sharing this incredible journey of yours. These posts put a smile on my face and fill me with hope every time. Much appreciated!


  2. Caely! Hello.

    These pixels come straight from my heart.... Thank you for keeping me going with your wonderful encouragement.

    More soon and better.



  3. Your personable insightfulness has become another storyline within this "story of a story". Kudos! Archipelagos share similar beasts of learning, yes?

  4. Dear Lauraine,

    It is amazing how island cultures are shaped by their proximity to the sea and their isolation from outside influences.

    Thank you for your kind comment. Your fuel my passion and fill my inkwell.