domingo, 24 de fevereiro de 2008

Family Values

Skiing is not a common activity in Portugal, I wonder why... And, therefore, everything related to it, is something new for me!
Here it's a natural and a family practice, deep rooted in the nordic traditions and culture. It is not a mere sport, it's a family tradition! This people are "born with skis on their feet"(norwegians on Skiing)

Yesterday, a sunny February Saturday, in order to practices some ski, I went out, enjoying myself for 32kms. It was a very pleasant experience. All the snow around, the sky Christal clear, everything still...
After some kilometers, skiing almost without seeing no one, I arrived to Skramstadsætra ( I presume I wrote something about that place before). There and after, the place was over crowded! Dozens of people were skiing, alone or with their families. When I say families, it is the WHOLE family from grand parents to grand children, all included! From 4 to 80 years old, everyone is invited!

It is really funny to see all these small children dressed with this THICK monkey suits and wearing this tiny little skis on their feet! The funniest is when they fall! They look like small potato bags falling on the floor! Hillarious!

One of the most frustrating thing about learning to ski in such an early age is that when I am skiing uphill, tired as hell, this 12years old kid runs through me and I can't compete with his pace! The same happens with old people! They are too fast for me!

But soon, this portuguese will be skiing as good as they do! Trust me!=)

Hadet bra!

Yesterday statistics:
kilometers going up: 16
kilometers going down: 16,3
kids I ran over:1
old people faster than me:300,000
kids faster than me: 9,000,000
times with the face on the floor:3
times with the ass on the floor: 50,000
times on the floor, because I couldn't break, when this group of old people was going up, when I was going down: 1 worth for 10,000

When a snow roof falls...
At the top
At the top II

sexta-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2008


Deep in the heart of Hedmark, in the middle of the taiga forest, in a valley between the hills there is one place, one special place called Evenstad...

If you think you have been far away from everything, that's because you have never been there! I though that Rena was far away, but this village, inhabited by no more than 200 people, is absolutely in the middle of nowhere!

Located between two mountains, there is a river that crosses the valley, which is covered in ice and snow, by this time of the year. Everything is white, everything is still, everything is silent.

In the middle of this "nowhereness", there is a campus from the University I am attending, here! It has only 120students!!! The impression one has is that such a small community is no more than a bug norwegian family!

I started to visit this place, because I have a course in Norwegian language, up there! And learning norwegian is the least thing one can do, in such a remote place!
At first sight, there is nothing to do, in such a place! Just snow, trees and hills! however, these are the magic ingredients to amuse the most bored soul on this world and the other!
Yesterday, we were invited to go up to the hills and spend our day like norwegians do! Fire was set in a hole in the snow, where we were grilling sausages and eating Lumpa (special norwegian bread, pancake like bread). It must be said that on this "hole", more than 10 people could stay inside! Some studentsdug it for us! These students, I must say were the fittest people I've ever seen! I believe if they were dropped in the middle of a forest for 3 weeks, they wouldn't starve, get hungry or have a bad time, since forest is their home! I was really impressed!

After some time playing with snow and sledging we(me and other foreign students) were invited to spend some time at a cabin. Have you watched those movies, where people go to Alaska, in the middle of nowhere and there, they find the coziest house, with fireplace, drinking tea and stuff? OK, it was just like that! A scenery out of a movie!
By night time we had to leave such a beautiful place, but the will to a very nice night of sleep there was very strong!

Lucky me, I am going there every week!

Hadet bra!

A look into the valley.
The "hole".
Good times at the cabin.

segunda-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2008

Are you still having fun?

Hello there!

I am writing these words after along weekend. There were lots of skiing, studying watching movies and...going out at night.
Rena isn't the biggest place in the word, therefore, this small village it is only possible to find two pubs. Usually, most of the evenings, I go out, I visit the students' pub. It is cozy, all the students gather there, it's the people you know!
This Saturday, I changed my live! I went to the other pub, down the same street! Meeting some friends and stuff.
when I arrived to the pub, it was overcrowded! So many people, it was hard to walk in there! After meeting my friends, which some of them had had few beers more! It was cool to chat with them and still, I like drunk people, in a way, when they are friendly and smiling all the time!

The strange thing is after a while, I just had some baccardi with coke and I was satisfied, I didn't need nothing else to drink! I was totally ok, ready to have fun! I didn't want to get wasted, because I felt I didn't need to... and then, there were so many people asking me: "aren't you having fun?", "don't you like it here?",etc. I felt really strange, because I was having fun, yes! but I didn't want to drink! That's it! I don't need to get fully drunk to have a great time! sometimes it's cool to have some glasses more than one should, is not needed! It's not a rule "whiskey+wine+beer = guaranteed fun"!

I realized it must be cultural! It has to! Because, like I said previously, this people is shy, they aren't capable to show their feelings in a easy way, therefore, they cloak themselves under the alcohol spirits, in order to have some more fun they would ever experience if they were sober. It's the weekend drinking culture... Drink to have fun!

Of course this is nothing new for me! In Portugal, of course we have a drinking culture. In fact, I believe even deeper in our roots than this one, since we have wine everyday, during meals - white for fish, red for meat - beer when it's hot, "agua ardente" with espresso coffee, etc etc etc. It is normal for us to get drunk, it is common to go out and see drunk, wasted people! it is!
However, people tend to drink because it's a social process. I buy one to this person that person buys another round and then arrives the other dude and suddenly comes that friend and people get drunk that way - not drinking my own booze, as fast as I can, to get drunk as fast as possible to have as much fun(??) as I can get.

I must also say that the shock wouldn't be so big if they were outgoing people like us. Because Portuguese people tend to be outgoing and when they drink, they are a little bit more outgoing. Here, people tend to be closed within themselves and when they drink, they suffer a fantastic metamorphosis which makes of them the nicest, friendliest most talkative people in the world.

It is also something that makes this Portuguese a little confused in this far far far away country!

Hadet bra!

domingo, 17 de fevereiro de 2008

Ice, Snow, Wind and Cold

This time, I will just provide some random pictures taken during my last ski trip.

sexta-feira, 15 de fevereiro de 2008

Caught somewhere in time

Hello, there!

After more than 7 months in Norway and having problems related to that, I believe it is time to talk about a small detail that tells a lot about a country and it's characteristics: punctuality!

Back home, it is normal to get to classes five minutes late. Most of the teachers won't get bothered by such small thing. There are some teachers, that arrive to classes after the students!
If I am late 5, 10, 15 to a meeting with a friend, it won't be a problem at all! He/she knows I will arrive, sooner or later!
Usually, I am late to school everyday! 5 or 10 minutes, I am late! no matter how hard I try, I will be late! Now, you can ask: "Why don't you leave your place 5 or 10 mins earlier?" Well, if I do that, I will loose my time with something insignificant I will find along the way! It is something stronger than me!=P

Here in Norway, things are a BIT different. people are punctual! They arrive at the time they were meant to. If they, by some reason, will arrive later than they should, they will warn a person, even though it is an informal meeting! A coffee, a drink, a dinner...Norwegian people will be there on time! "3 o'clock, sharp!" means really really sharp!
However, they are not as punctual as the Germans! Germans are always in time, wherever they go! And it is really hard for them to deal with people that tend to arrive to meetings later than they should... I have a German teacher, you can figure the rest! It was horrible for her my lack of punctuality and for me her extreme punctuality! now, after some months, we managed to understand and go over such aspect, since it is nothing more than a cultural characteristic!

Hadet bra!

quarta-feira, 13 de fevereiro de 2008

Sesame Street

This title must be a bit awkward, but don't go away, it is actually about that TV show we all watched - I thought everyone did - when we were kids.

I am living with two persons from Eastern countries: one from Lithuania and the other from Romania. There is no one else living with us, which means that I am the only person from a western country.

I traveled a bit, across Europe and I met many, many people from abroad. People coming from such different countries such as Turkey and Finland. And somehow there are some bonds that unite us. One of those bonds are the TV shows one used to watch as a small child.

Everyone I know(well, not anymore), and I mean everyone, knows Sesame Street! It doesn't matter if a person is 8 or 80! It was something that cut deep into our culture(s). If a 70 year old person knows it, probably it isn't because he/she watched it, but his/hers grandchildren did... It is a mark for millions of children across the world.

My point is that I felt really confused when I started to talk like the (everlasting) cookie monster and they asked what was it! I felt like a car hit me. not knowning cookie monster?that is heresy! that is outrageous. that is having a pointless childhood...(too dramatic, here!=P)

What I mean is the fact that when living abroad with people from culturally distant countries, it is very hard to be understood. Jokes don't make any sense, "do you remember this cartoons or this movie", which is usually used to break the ice and start a conversation it's almost useless! But, it also works on the opposite way! For I never watched Vinni Puh - Soviet version of Winnie the Pooh.

For those who didn't watch any of these shows. For those who watched both. For those who just watched one of them.

Crazy world we live in!

Hadet bra

P.S.- The soviet Winnie The Pooh a.k.a. Vinni Puh is far much cooler than the Disney one!

domingo, 10 de fevereiro de 2008


Years ago, my favorite author wrote a book about blindness. A country where all men, women and children got blind. It wasn't a dark blindness, but white one! And I was one of those.

This week, I went with two friends for a skiing trip. we went out for three hours, in the snow. We went up some foggy, snowy hills. After reaching the top, we followed on, behind the mountain. Suddenly, the fog became "thicker" and it wasn't possible to see far! There was a part of the way, where there weren't any trees near the ski tracks. My friends were far away in front of me, because - due to my greatest skiing skills - fell on the floor three times. I was alone and all I could see was white. everything was pure white. I felt I was inside a strange dream or a futuristic movie scenario. The feeling was like being inside a white darkroom. where you don't know where ground starts and if there is a wall there or something you can fall on.

sight wasn't my only sense that was all confused. I also couldn't hear anything. Everything was so still... no wind blowing, no birds singing, nothing!
I felt I was in a desert, a desert where your senses are deactivated. I could get lost in such an environment for days...

Creepy, but still very interesting to experience...

Hadet bra!
Øyvind and me

Although the pictures are too dark, you can have an idea how foggy it was...

PS.- I am sorry, I didn't take pictures when it was really foggy, because I wasn't carrying my camera(a friend was, I was afraid to break it, when I fell).