Bergen, Norway

August 20-21, 2001

Some of the accomodation has closed for the season, so it took awile to get situated, but there was room at the Montana hostel for me. Ritsuko and I wandered around Bryggens, the historic rough timber buildings and streets the (alleys/streets are wood too!). I think I've finally shaken this fever thing now and looking forward to a busy day tomorrow. I bought a rail pass and made aggressive touring plans for the next week.

This is Ritsuko's last day in Norway. She's on the night train back to Oslo to catch the morning London flight.

Damn, I think I feel a cold coming on from going against my sauntering style and doing more of a sprinter's style in Bergen. I already have a museum card and rail pass, so I'm pushing on, but should allow for more rest. I'll suffer later if I have too.

The museums were all interesting here and all of small manageable sizes. The first I stopped in houses some ruins of old Bergen just where they were found. I try to imagine what the structures looked like 1000 years ago, then remember the church outside the window. It's still standing and functioning in perfect condition. The outside reveals nothing particular, but the inside is worth the look. It remains as it was nearly 800 years ago, except for the more modern pipe organ and electric fitted chandeliers. The organist is hammering out something of a religious carnival: a sense of chaos, the fear of god, witch craft and some sort of resolution that still needs practice as he stops mid note and replays the tricky licks in the last part. Back in the days of this church, it was the church that enforced law (and superstition). How do they come up with these things? There are beliefs on having sex with frog legs in the bed or live fish. And the medical prescriptions have excrement from different animals for cures. Is there a historic backing to the biker phrase, "eat shit and die?" I think I'll skip the remedy for my headache: pigeon droppings. Trust me, there were worse treatments too.

Now off to a strange medical museum where the cures were scientifically based (and eventually successful). The Leprosy Museum, housed in the Leprosy hospital with attached church, goes through the hospital conditions, symptoms and treatment. There are still cases of Leprosy though out the world today, although there was a UN goal to eliminate it completely by the year 2000. It's curable if you can afford the medication/treatment.

Now to some art museums before I collapse in the grassy area around the fountain. Norweigian art tends to express the woodsiness of the people in the summer and winter survival/depressions. I can't imagine the snow-covered life here before central heating. I wouldn't have lasted. Then again, most didn't last long... the average age fluctuated between 20 and 30.

Now I'm waiting at the train station and a boy runs up to me, "HI!" and then goes on in Norweigian. I tell him, I am sorry, I only know English. Then a gentle, but very loud and booming laugher comes to my right, "Ha, ha, ha. We were all children once! That child, is very special." The voice continued to be warm and loud, broadcasting, "Yes he's VERY special. He's autistic, if you know what that means - a mental retard if that's how you say it in your language. A very special mental retarded handicap."

He continued to tell me that this boy, I think his son, had a fascination with trains, and unlike the other autistics I've met, was not shy at all, but extremely outgoing in a random sort of way. I tried to make contact with him, but his focus was already on the trains. He darted out to the platforms faster than a high speed TGV train.

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