I have so much to share, so many new experiences and friends, and conversations with the locals that have been absolutely fascinating, but I will update later on all that, because right now I am in the office of the local helipad in Klaksvik, in the northern islands of the Faroes. I took the local mail/supply ferry into the very northern reaches of this island nation (technically under Denmark, but still very much a proud country). And now I will take the thrice weekly helicoptor service back to Torshavn, the capital city where I am based.
My Faroes experience has been phenomenal, beyond my expectations. It is the off-season, and as with all Faroese weather, the skies are tempermental – brilliant sun one minute, slashing rain and brooding fog the next. It is a love affair that has not died since Friday’s soccer match.
The helicoptor crew, a jovial group of men, have an unplanned aerial survey to do of the surrounding area, so they apologized profusely for the delay and will be gone about 40 minutes, leaving me alone in their office with a steaming cup of coffee and allowing me the use of the Internet. I continue to be amazed by the gracious hospitality of the people I meet.
The morning was bipolar in the extreme, but that is daily life in the Faroes. The mail ferry MS Ritan sailed out from Hvannasund, a small community on one of the northern islands linked to the other main islands by bridge and tunnel, with a load of supplies and mail for the islands furthest north, the ones that have tiny communities of 10 to 20 people and cling tenaciously to their wind-swept mountain rocks. And these islands are all rock and grass and sea and wind. The ferry tilted side to side, up and down, at the mercy of the wind and waves. The rain pummelled, then disappeared, poured, softened, like God playing with the spigot as we toss on the waves past cliffs full of sea birds.
On the ferry I met Høgni Thomsen. He is typical Faroese – reserved and stoic at first meeting, but begin to talk to him and he opens right up, eager to share about his home and curious about why on earth a tourist would come to his islands. I have gotten this response a lot, and as one bus driver explained, they do not see what is so extraordinary about their dramatic, music-infested, fjord-laced home, until they have left for awhile and return, yearning for the sea and mountain. Anyways, Høgni is an artist, his tools watercolors and oils, and his subject matter often the moody and dynamic landscapes of his home, especially the waterfalls. However, while he paints and sometimes shows his work in his home, his sister’s chiropractic office, and once in awhile in Torshavn, he must feed a family of four kids, so he works at the salmon hatcheries. Today he was taking the ferry to work in Svínoy, one of these islands that rely on the lifeline the ferry provides. I ran in to him just awhile ago again, as he caught the helicoptor back home to Klaksvík and we laughed over how small the islands are that we could run into each other again. I may bump into him yet again later tonight, as his daughters are playing in a football match in Torshavn. They are teenagers and serious footballers, playing on the Faroese women’s national team. For anyone interested in seeing his art, his website is www.gluggin.com. Gluggin means windows, both in Icelandic and Faroese.
So now I wait to catch the helicoptor to Torshavn. This all seems a dream. When I have more time, I will tell the story of my day in Suduroy, the southernmost island, where the locals hijacked me for the day to take me to a beautiful village called Fámjin and I witnessed how they capture and prepare sea birds for cooking. It was a day that encapsulates the Faroes and her people, but I do not have the time now, as my helicoptor chariot soon awaits!