Already the day after returning from Lofoten I was on a train again with my luggage heading north. Through a friend I had landed a job that probably couldn’t have suited me better for this study break intended to nurture my bank account and wanderlust. I really hoped to spend some of this time travelling around Norway, as it doesn’t make sense for an enthusiastic hiker in search of magnificent views to leave out Norway. Being able to work only a short hike from a national park – ah that was the dream. So I got on the train heading to Otta, a small town situated in a valley next to a river that is icy blue, or perhaps green, depending on how the sun shines on it. If you follow the road going up the valley you will find the hotel where I now work, and if you follow the road another 10ks then you will be met with a mountain range consisting of a handful of summits over 2000 metre (and some slightly under).
I am perhaps a bit arrogant, at times, at the prospect of a new adventure like this one. I find myself constantly moving around, abandoning all that I know to go new places, and friends ask me if I’m not scared, nervous. Usually I’m not, instead I’m excited and grateful – until the train pulls into the station and I’m dragging my suitcase down the steps looking for a man with red trousers, and that is all I know about anyone in this place. That there is someone there to pick me up and they are wearing red trousers. This is when the butterflies begin to flutter anxiously in my belly, when I am about to meet the new people, see my new home. This is when the image I’ve created in my head of how these two next months will be like is put to the test. I am not scared, exactly, but I suddenly question everything I think I am and the way I have chosen to live my life. But as soon as I get the first friendly smile and see that the room I’m meant to stay with has a functioning bathroom, electricity and a comfortable bed, that nervousness is gone and only the excitement is left.
I began work the next morning, and for a few days I fumbled and struggled with the insecurity of all that I did not know. I have never waitressed before, and a friend of mine who has has always made is seem like a stressful and difficult job. Thankfully there is something about people in the mountains, they have a more relaxed air, a less demanding presence. I quickly learned how to do the job, and I quickly settled into this mountain home. I sometimes feel as if I am living in a TV show, so secluded up here without good wifi connection and a staff that mostly live on the property. Even off duty the hotel is swarming with chefs, receptionists, housekeepers and waitresses. We are always eating, always coming for coffee or for the internet. Suddenly I understand the connection that exists in a workplace where everyone always seems to be in the office.
And then there are the days when I don’t have work and the sun is shining and the mountains are calling. I go as often as I can, and after a month I feel like this is my home, like I have known these mountains forever. I feel my legs growing stronger and my breathing gets easier as I trudge up rocky paths towards a cairn and the chocolate reward at the summit. Outside the leaves are going yellow and orange and the autumn foliage has rarely been more welcome, as the scenery in a couple of weeks will look entirely different and can therefore be rediscovered.