I have about 8 book-sized journals in a box at my parents house in Shoreline, Washington with detailed descriptions of each day I was traveling. Unfortunately all I am writing from now is my memory from 37 years ago. I was very disciplined about writing there and did it daily. My day was not complete without writing a daily entry. I wrote entries in multiple languages just for practice. Hopefully I could read them now. I wrote in Spanish, Italian (I think), Norwegian and maybe in German as well. Good practice.
Anyway, I wanted to discuss some of the people I met during my time on the farm in Norway. Most of the time I just worked on the farm and met visitors. Musa Jaby was the person that had the same job as me. He was from Gambia in Africa. It is a small slice of a country that is surrounded on both sides by Senegal. Although I do not know that much about the history, it was a country from which many slaves were taken. A horrible sin of humanity and we are still living with it today. Musa was shorter than I and very dark skinned. He was incredibly fit. He was pure muscle. At the time I was very physically fit and had a tremendous work ethic. He is one of the few people that could work as hard as I can and he probably weighed 70 to 80 pounds less. For me, he was educational. We spent every hour of every day together pretty much, so we would always ask each other questions about culture, religión, families, etc…It was fascinating. I remember us having heated arguments about many things, but we loved each other in a way that was unique. I cant think of many people I have ever been so close with. He had a tremendous smile and laugh and great spirit.
He had come to Europe with dreams of making enough money to start a business in Africa. We lost touch and I cannot find him which is sad to me. I will try again. He had a nice suit among his few clothes. I asked him why he would spend so much money on a suit if he had so little money. He explained to me that in his culture, even if he was starving he wanted to look like he was rich. He was muslim, yet he was working on a pig farm, which seemed difficult to me. He of course did not eat pork. He believed in black magic. He talked about people in Mali that could be shot by bullets but never die because of magic powers. One night I was playing around with him and told him I could see spirits in the wheat field….and that huge elephants may stampede. I had him believing me for a while. We had so much fun! I recall one time we were laying corrugated drain pipe across the fields that were pure mud. We walked behind the tractor device that was laying the pipe in a deep ditch and we would cover the ditch with sawdust. We kept getting stuck in the mud. It was exhausting. Eventually I was so stuck that my boots got lost in the mud and and I fell on my face.
There was an old house on the property that was falling down and when the owners went on vacation they asked us to tear it down completely. Was kind of fun until we got to a part we could not tear down. I took a huge tractor with the huge oversized wheels and tied a cable to the house and drove away from the house as fast as I could. It just about killed me. The tractor jumped in the air and I slammed around the driver´s box, but the house did not come down. Musa laughed hard. I left Norway before Musa did and I remember us sobbing in the yard in front of the house. My shirt was soaked with tears and I had to leave. I always find it difficult saying good bye to people I care about. Leaving a piece of yourself behind.
A second person I met there an older man from Trondheim, Norway to the North. His name was Morten. He picked me up hitch-hiking from Bergen on my way North. I was going to the Voss Mountains but he talked me into coming with him to Trondheim. He was not in good health and lived alone in a small apartment. He had very white hair and a red complexión. he drank excessively. He was one of the most lonely, tragic figures I have ever met. I will look through my diaries for more details on him. He told me I could stay at his place as long as I wished and he would drive me wherever and whenever I wanted. His hands trembled a lot. I forget his family details but he told me that had worked in the resistance movement against the Nazis during World War II. He was smuggling people (Jewish, I believe) across the border from Norway to Sweden via the mountains. It was treacherous work and he eventually was tortured and was still damaged physically and mentally it seemed when I met him. He was so very kind and gentle. He kept telling me how much he enjoyed me being there and that i was like having a son. I remember he dropped me off in Trondheim one day. I was walking down the Street and a Norwegian was staring at me, so I greeted them. They quickly responded,”Kjenner du meg?” (Do you know me?). Norwegians were so reserved that a person saying hello like that was unusual. Anyway, after some time at Mortens, I had to move on even though he wanted me to stay. I felt sad and when he left me in Voss at the mountain trailhead I felt so sad for him. I remember one day in his apartment, he told me something like, “The way you live is like you are an artist of life.” I cant remember his explanation of that comment but it was a compliment. I hope very much that the rest of his life found more peace and comfort. His work in the resistance movement made him a hero to me.
Speaking of the Nazis, their impact was felt still at that time in Norway and across Europe. The father of the farmer I worked with had been prewsented with the choice of joining forces with the Nazis or not. Things were not always so clear and he joined the Nazis. After the war he was jailed in Norway. I could tell this was very painful to talk about for Per and his family. There is a spectacular resistance museum in Oslo. Sometimes Norwegians would speak with great hatred for the Germans as the Germans had burnt entire villages to the ground in parts of Norway.