Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Touchdown on Vágur

The next morning I woke to the alarm and went downstairs to check out. Four in the morning and Copenhagen was as quiet and still as a large city can be. I asked the clerk to call me a cab and walked out to the sidewalk to wait. A doorman/porter greeted me and we passed a few minutes with polite conversation. The big news of the morning, which he related to me after looking up the street in both directions, as though there might be someone besides me listening, was that Bono had just left the hotel. I didn't know how to react to this momentous news. After I left would he tell the next person that Doug had just left the hotel? Somehow I doubted it. Precious anonymity. Have to guard it.

Taxi to the airport as the world woke around me. Glimpses of huge wind turbines on pedestals in a body of water seen between passing buildings. Sights and sounds and an unending flat aspect to the land. A sea level city.

Airport check in and security. Back in the homogenized zone with a slight European flavor. Found my gate and waited for Bonnie and the gang to arrive. I was shoe-horning myself into the middle of a team of unknowns. Odd man out and acutely aware of it.

Bonnie and company showed up a few minutes later and I was introduced in short order to Bonnie's brother, Louie, her daughter Larina, nephew Christoph and a friend of Bonnie's named Gabe. They were to fly out a few minutes behind me on a different airline and after greeting me they continued on to their departure gate. Bonnie remained behind and we caught up. Though it was obvious my appearance on the scene had thrown her for a loop she took it in stride and assured me that she had meant what she'd said about joining them, but that she could not believe I actually had. I told her I would find my own accommodations if necessary and still contribute to the team effort. She told me not to worry, that it would all work out and that she'd see me at the airport in the Faroes. With that, she followed her crew toward her gate and left me to my own devices.

The national airline of the Faroes is Atlantic Airways. They operate a fleet of eight Avro BAe 146-200's, a small, quiet and efficient four engine jets. Once on board and airborne I realized quickly that many of the passengers knew each other. They were friendly and polite to a fault. I struck up a halting conversation with a schoolteacher from Suduroy, though at the time I did not know what or where Suduroy was. His name was Swen Johansen and when he heard that I was going to be participating in the filming of a documentary he offered to put me in touch with several people on his island that might be of assistance.

The flight was uneventful until we descended out of the clouds over the island of Vágur, site of the Faroes' only airport. The pilot announced on the intercom that there were substantial crosswinds and to make sure our seat belts were fastened. Looking out the window I saw a verdant green land of hills and rugged peaks wreathed in grey clouds. There no roads or houses in view. We were flying right down the middle of a valley toward the distant (I assumed) runway when the jet was buffeted severely. Everyone on board screamed and laughed as if they'd ridden this roller coaster before. If they weren't upset then I wasn't going to worry, but after several more gyrations I moved the approach right to the top of the list for turbulence I'd experienced while flying.

We touched down at Vágur Airport and taxied to a stop at a small terminal. A set of stairs was rolled out to the jet and I was reminded of the days when there were no jetways on interisland flights in the Hawaiian Islands. I felt right at home. Walking across the tarmac to the terminal I marvelled at the blue sky and beautiful green plateau that the runway was perched upon. Looking to the north-east I could see the valley we'd threaded on our approach from the sea. It was narrow and steep sided and framed the distant sea.

A feeling of amazement and anticipation filled me. Whatever was going to happen in the next few weeks had begun. After a three day journey, for better or worse, I had set foot on the Faroe Islands.

I went into the terminal, collected my pack and sleeping bag and began to explore the building while I waited for Bonnie's plane to arrive.

(To be continued.)

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