• Francesco Randazzo


The Preamble:

After spending a challenging year learning a new language, getting used to a new culture, working most of my days in restaurants, I decided to quit and find a different job.

I always loved the road, it was my office. So I happen to find a job as a courier, firstly with a bicycle, then with a scooter. With all these small changes, I immediately had a lot of free time, that I spent mostly playing videogames on my computer.

My only desire was to become a professional gamer. Adequately paid to play competitive matches.

You might find me crazy, but that was the only thing that mattered to me during that period.

Slowly I didn't know how to love anymore, me and whoever was around me. Waking up at 5 PM and right after I was trying my best on videogames. All until early morning. I lived in the darkness of a drug.

Going out to get groceries I decide to break that routine, getting in the tube. I don't remember where I was going, but I needed a change. I saw a huge manifesto with the Northern lights. It awakened something in me. My soul has always been adventurous, so I decided to do everything to see the Northern lights at least once in my life.

I spend my Christmas in Sicily and I tell my parents that I planned to go to Norway. Reluctantly, they support me.

I start selling everything: my computer, my moped and everything I bought and built in these years. My only goal was - Northern lights. So leaving my career in videogames aside.

My room was a bed, a desk and a chair. The bare necessities to remind me to go out and appreciate Nature and my own soul.

I was nearly ready to leave, I bought everything I needed for that cold Norway weather.

Thankfully, Jonas and Iwona approve the request I applied for on wwoofnorway.org, an incredible organization helping travellers to contact people and their farms, who host them in exchange for a bit of labour.

The week before I get there I get a flight to Trieste in North Italy. I needed to meet someone important for me, together exploring the Balkan countries close to Italy.

The Trip:

Ok, the same day I change three countries, three different time zones. I spend a sleepless night, cleaning my small room in London to then quickly go to the airport. I feel lost, tired, but I feel good.

I get to sleep those few hours of flight and as I open my eyes I see a completely new landscape. On my way to Trondheim-Vaernes station, I realise, cursing at the wind, I had lost the ferry. The only daily ferry.

Calling Jonas he tells me that he won’t be able to help me, so I end up wandering, then, all afternoon, looking for food and a decent place to sleep that night. It quickly became an issue. I jump from a bus stop to another looking for some warmth (they were closed and heated bus stops), so I could then use my phone, check the map, and get to move towards the next hotel, to then find out it’s full. All of it until night.

Finally, after being denied countless times, they point me towards a hostel in a further area of the town. After a few hours walking, I find myself dragging to the bed, calling my parents and reassuring them. I love hostels as they are a sharing point of so many people and stories.

As I was in the hostel hall, I was curious about this guy with a hat saying “Everest 5675mt”, so I decided to introduce myself to him, asking whether he climbed the tallest mountain of the world or not. The answer was tailored to his hat, obviously. Steave reached that height. His name is Steave if I haven’t mentioned it before.

Playing cards and laughing he tells me of that incredible journey he had. Both of us had the dream to get to see the Northern Lights, we were there for the same reason. From that point onwards, in fact, I spent every night looking for them. Often resultless. It will be then a month until I get to see them, in all their greatness.

I get out of the hostel and I start taking public transport to reach that Norwegian Fjord, where I would’ve been living for the next two months. The last of which stops right in front of Jonas farm (the driver knew well where to stop, there weren’t real “bus stops” there in the wilderness). I see a huge farm on top of that snowy hill. I see those mountains from afar, those woods, and that landscape I’ve never seen before. Everything’s new to me. Even breathing seemed to be so different from what I initially learnt. Walking on snow is very challenging too. I then clumsily hike on that frozen road that will bring me on top of the hill, where the farm is.

As I reach the top, two German travellers, Max and Joshua, greet me, showing me around. Finally, it gets dark and we reach the main house, where I meet Jonas and Iwona for the first time. What a couple! They both work tirelessly to manage a farm, letting travellers in, listening to their stories and kindly offering them really nice spirits.

We spend the nights between eating fish soups, watching movies, drinking alcoholic beverages, and having fun around young lambs jumping around sofas. It seemed so incredible, but it’s what I lived with for those two months.

My days started when the sun arose. My first task was to feed the goats and replace the frozen water from the drums to then cut and cram the wood. After this easy routine, my day was free until the night, where I had to repeat the same tasks.

Normally my day consisted of really long walks between white woods and frozen lakes, which I often spent with Max and Josh. Not long after though Katrine joins with us. A typical Danish girl, green eyes and blond hair.

We were five, us four, and our dearest friend Bob, a wolfhound. We were like kids always looking for something new, but what we cared most about was sharing our small adventures in front of a nice glass of liquor and the crackling fireplace.

The routine remained the same for all my stay, apart from the few minor inconveniences happened throughout.

Those who were my travel friends got to get back to their own lives, so I was alone. With myself and the nature around me.

I spent days with Bob, I left him guiding me around the white forest for many hours, so to make sure I was lost. Every afternoon the farm became my final target. My path changed daily. Getting further and further away I felt closer and closer to Nature.

Lost in the woods:

Lost among the boreal forest, following an elk, me and Bob were determined to find her, but also the Sun was setting soon. For us, it would’ve been getting back, but we didn’t know where to step our paws. No reference points, no tools. I tried getting on top of the highest trees, looking for lakes, farms, but nothing ahead.

I only saw my fear. Fear of not being able to get back. Bob was extremely tired, and I didn’t feel my feet anymore. Feeling dread going through my body I get to see a pylon further away. Now where to go really? Right or left?

Following my instinct, after more than an hour walking, I manage to be on the road that got me out of the woods to then quickly go back to the farm. A truly exhausting day, which ended up very well. In front of the familiar fireplace and a delicious freshly made soup.

The day after I immediately go for another hike. I knew my previous day would’ve changed me negatively if I didn’t confront my fears once again. So I kept doing it for days and days that came.

No filters, only freedom, no one to judge, no smartphones. It was just me, nature and the adventure. Fear and happiness. All the feelings grew with no limits. An interior path, a fight among feelings I never felt, so to feel like a stranger to myself. I always was so private and kept things to myself. I knew what made me happier.

Getting back:

It was just a few days before the end of the trip, although the things I discovered about me were important, the result was a more insecure myself about the future, more than I’ve ever been. What would I do after then? Get back in London? Find a different place where to stay? So many questions, so little answers.

After spending most of my time thinking about decisions, it was time to get back.

I remember the last night, us enjoying ourselves around a firepit, laughing, Juliette and Jack (two guys that recently joined the farm), Jonas and Iwona.

Wake up at dawn, a strong headache, and I had to run to get all those transport to get to the airport. Run, get in the aeroplane, sleep and get back to the real world, with an incredible past to think about.

I dedicate my words to everyone who asked me about the trip and to me never been able to spend a few hours unfolding my life-changing experience.

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©2019 by Armando Contarino & Francesco Randazzo.