Europe N to S: Venn (6/25/16)


Kunes, Norway – June 25, 2016

Today’s Miles: 14.6

Total Miles: 95.2

Highway markers tick down the kilometers as I walk. They are small signs, hard to read from a moving car, but on foot they come slowly, their black letters counting down every half kilometer, one after another, accurate and merciless.
Kunes appears in the distance along a straight stretch of road and I grind my hope into the ground. I heard of a small cafe there, but I tell myself it does not exist, that it will not have food, that the two packages of ramen noodles and instant potatoes are all I will eat for two days until I reach Lakselv.
I do not find a cafe. All I find is a camping area with RVs and nothing to buy. I turn back and stare at a sign on the road.
“Dagligvarer,” it reads and points down a small road.
I wonder what that means. I stare at it, but there are no icons to help decipher it. The little road seems too small for any business. I get out my phone and open up my trsnslation dictionary.
Dagligvarer.
Groceries.
I don’t believe the screen for a moment thenx fly down the road. The weariness of walking on pavement peels off me. My joints stop aching. My muscles spring to life. I misunderstood when I heard cafe. There isn’t a cafe, there is a grocery store.
I imagine chocolate bars and loafs of bread. I think of sliced cheese and sausages.
I turn a corner and the grocery is there, not a bad size at all. I rush toward it, then stop. Dark windows and an empty parking lot stare back. A paper sign taped to the door reads off the hours.
It closes at 1pm on Saturdays, closed on Sunday.
I check my phone for the day of the week. Saturday, 3pm. I’m two hours late.
I stand for a moment, reading the sign, pleading with it, watching it not change. Two hours. Just two hours. If only I’d known.
My hands catch my falling face.
“What is it you need?” a voice says.
I look up and see a woman working in her garden nearby.
“I was just looking for a bit of food,” I say. “I am walking toward Lakselv.”
She stands up and brushes the grass off her hands.
“I have food,” the woman says.
She leads me into her house and fills a sack with wild salmon fillets, cheese, and homemade bread.
I offer to pay and she shakes her head.
“Tusen takk,” I say, “a thousand thanks.”
The only Norwegian words I know.
Food turns to talk of the mountains, to helping in the garden as my phone charges, to a shower, to a party at the fjord to celebrate midsummer, to waiting sausages and pork chops and homemade potato salad, to laughing in a fire-warmed hut and sharing stories until 2 am, to a spare bed to sleep in out of the cold, to learning a new Norwegian word.
Venn.
Friend.
Erna er min venn.
Erna is my friend.

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15 thoughts on “Europe N to S: Venn (6/25/16)

  1. ok, he is back with the wonderful writing and experiences……Daniel, this made me cry….Thank you

  2. Tusen talk, Erna!!! Made me cry, too!!! In a week of senseless violence, Erna’s kindness reminds us all what it is all about, love, kindness and sharing!!! Thank you, D!!!

  3. Auto correct changed my new word, Tusen takk, Erna!!! 😎 Now I know some wonderful Norwegian words!!!

  4. Inspiring. Louis Armstrong inspiring.

    “The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky,
    Are also on the faces of people going by.
    I see friends shaking hands, sayin’, “How do you do?”
    They’re really sayin’, “I love you.

    Oh, what a wonderful world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  5. Daniel: Do you have Erna’s address? I want to send her something. And just a thought. Wouldn’t it be a great experience for all of us to send Erna something — from a thank you card to anything you can think of. If she did this for Daniel, I can only imagine how many other lives she has helped and inspired in her lifetime. I loved the picture of you and her as you towered over her small frame.

    1. I would LOVE to. I could send her saffron with a recipe for Paella. Besitos D! Tia Laura

  6. I like the idea of surprising Erna.
    I devour your posts, they are life force coming through this cold technology.
    I enjoyed the video so much, amazed you pull off the creation while traveling, and wished your voice was a bit louder over the music.
    More trail blessings to you!

  7. Daniel It is always so nice to read about the kindness of strangers. It helps to restore one’s faith in humanity.

    Wim Smits

  8. My heart sank as I read that yet another food source destination had disappointed you. Then, WAM! You got me! I am crying and just a few stories into your journey. Not the first time your stories have made me cry, sometimes for sadness but most times for joy.

    Takk, Erna, for å være sønnen min venn.

  9. Perfect place to find an angel – working in the garden! Connected to the earth; aware, understanding, knowing the importance of food and sharing. She was there when you needed her most. What a blessing! Yes, I too shed happy and thankful tears reading this story.

  10. “Norwegian Nice” is the origin of the famous “Minnesota Nice” you came to know and love in your trip down the Mississippi Daniel! Thanks for sharing and thanks to Erna, for being a light in the early darkness of your journey.

  11. Yay Erna! so many emotions from the previous post to this one :-‘( O.o -___- ^.^ so thankful for the kindness of strangers, so thankful for the welding of new friendships. Keep on truckin’ good sir 🙂 #safetravels #goodcompany

  12. Erna is one of the good ones, I have known her since I was little, she used to visit my grandma often 🙂 i wanted to leave a comment because some people at the midsummer party mentioned you this summer, seems like you left your mark in Kunes, which i think is really cool.

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