Yesterday I got a ride down to Thor Heyerdahl’s house with a man called Torgeir Higraff. In 2006 Torgeir made his own version of Kon Tiki and crossed the Pacific Ocean an entire month faster than Heyerdahl. The biggest shock for Torgeir was that whereas we see in the Heyerdahl Oscar winning film from 50 odd years back an ocean dense with fish, he found the ocean scarily empty. When he stopped feeling seasick they passed by the stinking continent of rubbish and he felt sick again. Torgeir is a real live hero with broad shoulders who is burning to share his adventures. Behind the glamour there is a Bleak House too. He says that he reckons the robbing of the oceans by the mammoth trawlers will really hit us when runaway climate change has made farming so hard that we turn to the sea for food.
We are working together with groups of 70 thirteen year olds on a storytelling environmental programme. (www.fortelling.no) We don’t tell them the supergloomy news, we give them great stories and a game where they get into role as Climate witnesses. After meeting Torgeir they come up to the house and visit Thor Heyerdahls mum, that’s me and his wife that’s Charlotte. These kids get so into it that even when we’ve changed out of costume they still think we are about 140 years old and related to the big man.
Anyway back to the car, Torgeir has a great accent and I suddenly realized he probably comes from far North. Sure enough he grew up on a tiny island off Senja where I’ll be walking SOON and when I told him I was going to eat local food he said: ’Pizza Grandiosa. That is the local food up there, apart from Pizza Grandiosa.’
He said his grandmother was one of 14 children and her mum brought them up pretty much single handed PLUS she had to milk the cows, plant the potatoes and row them to school. The men were out fishing or trying to earn money and they might come back but then again they might not. Torgeir said peoples lives up there were so hard that in the 80’s when the oil money came they just tore down whatever they could of old houses, and old piers and built new concrete ones. They were not interested in tradition. I may not find a lot of fairy tales among the people he describes but the everyday life of 50 or 60 years back seems pretty mythic!
I’m going to bring a pan so I can boil up nettles if there is nothing else to eat.