A Date with a Modern Day Fisherman and Ancient Hunters of Norway

Fishing boats in the port on Lofoten at night

Listening to the rain lashing the windows on Lofoten a thought occured to us. Wasn’t it somewhere here that our youngest daughter lost our GoPro camera one winter when she was swimming with the orcas?

A quick message exchange gave us the precise location, it was a day’s drive further North to the island of Andoya. Four years ago she was swimming with orcas and in her excitement totally forgot about the GoPro strapped to her wrist. When she came back up to the boat it was gone, lost in the depth of the freezing sea.

One day many months later an email popped up in her inbox. Was it she that lost a GoPro? It said that a fisherman hauled it up with his daily catch. The housing was ruined under the pressure of 500m, but the memory card was extracted. The fisherman -detective analyzed the contents on his computer and saw that the first images were from our diving in the Andaman sea and the last from a boat in Norway. He went to talk to the agency organizing trips and asked, “Do you know of anyone who lost a Go Pro on one of your expeditions? Sure enough they found Naya’a records. The memory card was sent back and a local reporter even interviewed all parties and wrote a nice article.

I remember reading the barticle and thinking, “One day I would love to meet this fisherman.” Now, unexpectedly, our chance was here.

“Do you have his email?” was the next message to our daughter. She did and we quickly shot him a message. Would he be willing to meet with us for dinner in the next few days? A resounding yes came back quickly. His wife was going to join us too and he made a reservation in the only decent restaurant in town.

Good night and goodbye, Lofoten!

There was a little break, still windy and grey, in the perpetual rain on the day we said goodbye to Lofoten and headed to Andoya. We had no luck finding a single open food establishment. Until 4 pm when we hit Bleik Beach, just short off Andenesič where we were meeting for dinner at 6.

Bleik Beach

In a plain little hut we joined four other patrons heaping their plates with a smorgasbord served in heated metal containers. I sent a message to our fisherman that we made it and apologized for stuffing ourselves early at Sylvia’s. Just as we were telling the story of the fisherman that found our GoPro to the owner two people entered. “You have new guests,” I pointed out.

They headed straight to our table with big and smiles on their faces.

“It’s them,” exclaimed the owner. “They are my friends!”

“We live in the village on this beach,” they explained.

“Well, listen, we still want to take you for a nice dinner, as promised. How about we also try to invite the reporter who wrote the story. Do you have his phone number?”

“No, but I can find it!”

We stepped out and for the first time that day the sun broke through the grey skies for a few minutes and a beautiful rainbow greeted us.

How symbolic: strangers connected across continents by serendipity.

Having gotten hold of the reporter who promised to join us at the restaurant we were invited to Bernt-Jonny Lund’s fishing boat.

Fishing Boat named Troll Peak

It is a simple boat with little shelter from the elements. Hard to imagine the tough life of a fisherman for soft city rats like us.

With Bernt-Jonny

We had a great evening chatting with our new friends and the reporter

With the newspaper man

who took some notes for part 2 of the GoPro Saga.

In the local news

No surprise that our guests did not order fish for dinner but next day Bernt-Jonny brought as a bag of dried cod to try. Let us just say despite its nutritional value and transporting capability it is an acquired taste.

There wasn’t supposed to be the next day as we were planing to take the ferry to neighboring island of Senja. But a big storm the night after our dinner with huge swells prevented fishermen and ferries from going out to sea. So we made another night’s reservation at the old army barracks now a simple hotel and spent the day with our friends taking them to touristy places in their backyard they have never been to. (We have never been to Alcatraz either, despite living in the San Francisco Bay Area for the last 30 years).

Polar Museum
Fun at Spaceship Aurora Museum

For all our troubles we were rewarded with one spectacular sun kissed day on Senja, starting with a panoramic ferry ride.

With no plans for climbing mountain peaks,

Senjahopen village with the view of the peaks including the signature Segla and Hesten

a day was enough to crisscross the whole island. Senja is much smaller and less visited than Lofoten but it certainly punches above its weight.

Jumping above our age at Bergsbotn Uttiktsplattform
Leaving Senja on the last ferry ride

Sunshine held in Tromso, so we could walk around town amongst throngs of local people with their gleefully uptunred faces parked on benches and grassy park patches. Real summer has finally come to Norway now that we were nearly done?

We met famous explorers

and more trolls

A beautiful contemporary Arctic Cathedral represents well the mountains and northern lights of Tromso and the whole county of Troms og Finnmark.

Always looking for the LONG way around we drove through Lyngen Alps along and across Ramsfjord.

Stunning views from yet another ferry

We never heard of these places yet we found them more spectacular (and more peaceful) than their famous brethren in the south. We even took notice of some disparaging remarks about these far reaches of the country from Norwegians who obviously could never have been up here and experienced this dazzling beauty.

As a matter of fact one of our two guidebooks didn’t even cover this part of Norway. We will never forget it especially since we had a unique encounter with a pod of mama orcas playfully swimming along the bay with their babies as we drove by.

Too gobsmacked to take a photo of the orcas. Sometimes you just have to surrender to the random moment of awe!

Yet we did know of the place that was our end goal in our amended travel plan – Alta. It also has a contemporary cathedral: the Northern Lights Cathedral, Nordlyskatedralen in Norwegian.

The most unusual crosseless Christ figure in sparkling interior

But it was something much older yet illuminating that we came to see. A deservedly UNESCO World Herirage site. (Sometimes we wonder about these designations…)

It is in fact not that easy to see so we hired a private guide to show us around.

Poitning out and explaining the faint rock carvings

He works at the truly well designed Alta Museum. Alta has Northern Europe’s largest concentration of rock art made by hunter-gatherers. 6000 figures have been discovered up to date and many are encompassed in the museum’s outdoor area. The oldest date from 5000 BC.

To better see them the shallow carvings have been painted red, though this method is frowned upon and discontinued nowadays.

As great lovers of rock art this was a unique peak experience for us not only in Norway but worldwide. We have sought out rock art in many places like France, Namibia, Australia, and Malaysia, but such a large amount of panels and figures as here is quite unprecedented.

The figures portrayed are people, reindeer, elks (US “moose”), bears, dogs/wolves, foxes, hares, geese, ducks, swans, cormorants, halibut, salmon, whales, boats, implements and other artefacts, and various geometric patterns and shapes.

It is the human figures and their activities that speak to us and offer a unique window into the everyday life, beliefs, and rituals of our ancestors.

Fishing on the boat above and NOT hunting the elk, but performing a ritual.

Travel for us is about discovery, adventure, nature, beauty, creativity, but foremost connection to other humans around the world. Sometimes, when we are lucky we get to even feel the connection to the humans of the distant past.

As always we left a piece of our heart behind. While at the same time our heart and mind expanded and our life was enriched.

16 thoughts on “A Date with a Modern Day Fisherman and Ancient Hunters of Norway

  1. So good to hear from you😀
    Glad you keep doing what you do best. Fantastic pictures.
    We’re traveling around here only. Leaving for 3 weeks in OR next week. We’ll miss the CZ festival in Orinda, but our friend will sell my stuff for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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