10,000 years ago (sorry creationists) the Ice Age ended and the hunter-gatherer societies living on the edge of the ice in the Northern European regions were free to frolic into what is today known as Norway. After chasing reindeers for a while, they eventually settled in areas along the coast, but they couldn’t be held down! They hit the ground walking and have been walking ever since.
Physical activity is a big part of Norwegian culture. People walk, run, bike and roller ski around the city to get from here to there, then they can’t wait to get out of the urban jungle (the term is relative, there are more natural parks in Oslo than in all of Lebanon) to walk, run, bike or cross-country ski around the mountains. One of the most popular outdoor activities is trekking. They even do it naked.
This is the tale of a young girl’s strange erotic journey from Milan to Minsk. No it’s not. This is the tale of a young woman’s journey from a cabin in the Norwegian mountains back to the same exact place hours later, because why trek with purpose when you can trek 20 kilometers for no reason at all?
It looks super cold outside! What a great day to be inside a warm cabin, cook some good food and chill out.
The others are suggesting a walk. A walk would be super nice. I haven’t been so active since I got here and it would be nice to get the blood moving around a bit.
At this point, either decisions are being made about a more extensive hike or a nice walk for Norwegians means crossing some mountains and valleys for a few hours.
Wow, that trip to the outhouse was super cold! OK, OK gotta get some layers on for this walk. Where are my leggings? Oh, here they are. OK, leggings and pants, check. Now for my undershirt, second undershirt, long sleeved shirt, wool sweater and jacket. Boom, who’s ready to waddle around looking like the Michelin man? I am!
That’s weird, why are we getting into a car for a walk? OK, maybe we’re headed to a trail. Why are people talking about the great weather for hiking? Eh, it’s probably nothing, they mean flat-land hiking, right?! Alright! We’re parking and there’s the trail right over there. Cool, we’re walking around the forest!
Man, it sure does feel good to walk around the forest (deep cleansing breathe). Wow, the great outdoors. Fresh air, exercise, good people…this is the life!
Oh, ok. We’re headed uphill! Cool, I need a good leg and butt workout. Ok, this feels awesome (sentence to be read in ‘Oprah’ style, slow start with high pitched vibrato in the end).
Hmm, this uphill is getting steeper, gasp. Huuu, ok, huuu, at least we’re gonna have an awesome view when we get there. OMG, it’s so hot. Did the weather change? Is it because we’re walking closer to the sun? Ok, gotta take this jacket off.
(Yes, I’m even breathing hard in my thoughts)
It burns, my lungs, my legs, my soul. What’s happening? Am I going through menopause? This wool sweater is like a sauna. Must take off. OMG am I lost? Did I take the wrong trail? What if I went on the wrong side of the little fork? I can’t see the people behind me or in front of me. Wait, what is that weird bird-wolf sound? Oh, alright, I’m on the right track! It’s just Jorgo and Liza making unnatural animal noises. Ok, here I come!!
I reach the two in front and we all wait for the two behind me to catch up.
Ok, seriously, you’re breathing unnaturally hard. Calm down! Ok, mind over body, just control your breathing. OMG, controlling my breathing is making me short of breath and now I have to breathe even harder. OK, move away from them so they can’t hear you! Act like you’re really interested in that tree over there! Oh god, here come the last two and we’re on our way again.
Flatland! Flatty Flatty Flatland is my favorite land, because it’s flat and it’s land! Look at all the trees and shrubs la la la…
Oh god, the earth is at an angle again…what is this, like 60 degrees? Walking along the hypotenuse…A2 + B2 = C2, Pythagorean theorem. Walking on the C without water. I’m Jesus!!
Wow, ok, serious uphill walking here. The trees are fading away. Didn’t Jorgo say when the tree clears that means were high enough up to go past the tree line? The light bulb in my head is flickering, not enough power to think, what does this mean…OMG, this means…we should be almost there!
Alright, the summit! It was quite steep in the end but we did it! Ok, pshhh, hiking is awesome. I was worried about being unfit but I did it! Oh wow, look at all those mountains on the other side of this mountain. Hey! Norwegian speakers. What are you saying? Why are we heading downhill over this mountain, away from the car and further into the wilderness. Oh look, a lake! OK! We’re heading toward the lake! I’m sure we’ll just chill there for a bit and head back. Great idea.
Lake. Man, this is so beautiful. Oh shit! Everyone is getting naked! Why? Oh, oh my, oh my god, they’re headed into the water! Naked. This makes no sense. Let me see what it feels like. What the…the water is like 2 degrees! Are they crazy? No way, I’m not getting in there.
In the meanwhile, the others head out of the water and are going on and on about how great they feel from the rush.
Ok, I can do this. I can get in the water. Toe, Foot, Knee…forget it! I can’t do this!
I CAN do this. Ok. Mind over body. There is no water. It’s only an illusion of cold. You HAVE to do this. Toe, Foot, Knee, waist, boobs, shoulders!! SHOULDERS! AAAAH! Shock, pending death, muscles cramping, won’t…make…it…out. Oh wow, how did I get back to shore? That was surreal. Hey, I do feel awesome. My body is tingling and the sun is out and life is good.
Why do they keep pointing to that tall block of earth on the other side of the lake? Ok, we’re packing up, getting the clothes back on, walking, but not back where we came from. We’re headed around the lake! OMG, they want to climb the mountain!
Walking, walking, walking…around the lake we go. I can’t believe we’re heading to the mountain, but I can’t be the weak one. One foot in front of the other, and here we go. Oh look guys, a much smaller hill with a view over there. Oh yeah!? You wanna do that instead! Cooooool! Let’s go!
Rest and relaxation is what it’s all about. Oh, these binoculars I’ve been lugging around are coming in handy! What’s on that mountain over there? And there? And there? And over there? Cool, ok, now I’m bored with the binoculars. It’s all trees and valleys and lakes…BORING!!
OK, now we’ll be heading back for suuuuure.
WHAT? We’re also heading over that mountain, the one we avoided to climb this instead?! Protest! Balk! That is a serious uphill battle. My gluts! My thighs! Be still my heart! No seriously, it’s beating way too fast, what’s happening?!
Summit #3. Walking the edge of this mountain makes me feel like I’m in a Wes Anderson movie. I imagine he is filming us from the other mountaintop across the valley with a super zoom lens. Panorama shot then super quick zoom on the trekkers. There are no more mountains, we’ve done them all. Walk, walk, walk across the rim, then finally…DOWN! Downtown, things will be great when I’m downtown!
Back at the lake for some fire-cooked coffee. My body feels fuzzy and it’s getting cold again! Wool Sweater, here I come!
Uphill before the great downhill to get home! I forgot we were in a valley! Meh, no big deal, we’re heading home, finally!
788, 2098, 3044
4040 steps from the lake to the car. We’re done?? I feel amazing, I can walk forever!! FOREVER!!
I am officially inducted into the Trekker’s Club. I did it, 20K under the belt and it was awesome. They want to do it again in the snow. With snow shoes. Now that’s where I draw the line.
The selection and preparation (and consumption) of food is an effort I take seriously. Making and sharing good food is a wonderful part of life.
After growing up in California for most of my life, living in Lebanon for the past few years changed my relationship to food markets. Hole in the wall fruit & vegetable shops, corner butchers and family-owned neighborhood mini-marts are pr... [more]
It’s easy to feel like the world is turning into a cold and terrible place. Just a quick look what’s happening in the Middle East is enough to dim even the brightest heart.
Since Fall 2012, Lebanon’s beautifully designed The Outpost magazine has been on a mission to incite a socio-cultural renaissance in the Middle East through the exploration of the possibilities of c... [more]
So, hating on Israel just makes you an anti-anti-semite?
We all remember the bitter Arab/Israeli wars. The record battles, the name-calling. First Israel tried to take hummus. Then it was tabbouleh, shawarmah and baklava. But was it all a cover up for the most controversial thing they took? Anti-semitism.
The fact is, Palestinians are semites! So, what... [more]
Featuring Beirut’s Motorcycle Gang, The Aref Naja Crew!
Does this tiny love story reveal the true nature of men and women in relationships?
[SPOILER ALERT: watch video first!]
Norway’s most popular publication, VG, published a short documentary featuring the tumultuous tale of kindergarteners in love. At the most basic level it’s super cute, but the story unravels to reveal the sad and awkward reality of male-female views on dating, no matter the age.
The story opens in the Spring with four-year-o... [more]
Watch them in concert this Saturday
…and don’t forget your life jacket!
Ich was going to become famous by solving a world problem! But which one? Clooney’s got Darfur, Sting’s got the Amazon, and Bono’s got AIDS! Luckily, there was still one shithole left to fix: the Middle Earth. – Brüno
You know you’re a superstar when you’re asked to publicize world issues like the war in Syria. Angelina Jolie rec... [more]