Notes from Nowhere

miðvikudagur, september 21, 2005

Despair and revelation

Its a fine line, but I maintain there is a difference between being a tourist and a traveller.

And I've had it with being a fucking tourist. I found myself on yet another epic train journey, this time to Bergen on the West coast, sitting opposite two brothers from Tennessee. We talked country music, travel plans, photography. 'Scandinavia!' came the knowing whisper, when the German girl in a long- sleeved off- shoulder yellow t- shirt walked by.

There was a familiar tinkle of warning bells when I overheard them speaking about 'doing' cities, countries, using their Eurail pass, I thought, OK, give the benefit of the doubt, it is just a different language, that's all. When they described the landscape as a 'slideshow', I freely admit I was engaged in photographing from the window too. Maybe I was a bit desensitized by then. I met a somewhat joyless couple from Devon. At some point down the line, something happened, and I'm left feeling strangely empty, longing for real connection.

I want to rush up to anyone local, and prostrate myself, 'I'm sorry my Norwegian is so bad! I'm not just a tourist! Tell me about yourself! How can I contribute? I've come for mountains; please may I breathe your sweet cold air? I've come for solitude - are we not all alone?'

But on this, 'the most picturesque train journey in the world', they've seen a thousand people like me before.

And I don't throw myself down on the floor of the well kept train, I don't cry out, I don't even start a conversation with the old guy behind me. I just see a bearded man with a big orange bag, a messy rucksack, and a rifle. He disembarks in the middle of nowhere, in the cleft of a vast wooded valley, and in the emptiness I feel a little spark of life and death. And sit and write my way into another town, wondering how, once more, I will be revealed.


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