Ferries and Helicoptors – Just a Day in the Life of the Faroes

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!


About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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