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Global Quest For Local LETS
Copyright � James Taris

NORWAY

22. The Pride And Joy Of Aas


Alf trying to keep Balder in check.

When you're in Norway, you're about as high up on the globe you could possibly go. Unless, of course, you went to Alaska. But I feel it just wouldn't be the same.

Geographically, Norway is an interesting country. It starts from about the same latitude as the tip of Scotland, then goes north for 1,752 km, with its narrowest section measuring a megre 6 km in width. Understandably, most of the small population of 4.2 million people live as far south as possible. That's where it's warmer, and that's where you'll find its capital city, Oslo. Then 40 km south of Oslo you'll find the small town of Aas where I spent 6 beautiful, though still freezing, autumn days (it was 3 degrees all week).

And if you want anything cheap, you're in the wrong country, buddy. This is the most expensive country in Europe! I did some quick comparisons and found that most things were 4 times more expensive than back home in Australia. And one more thing. I'm just a smidge shorter than 6 foot in height, and for the first time in my life I was walking in a country with most men and women! towering over me. Something I never quite got used to.

But let me introduce you to the pride and joy of Aas. Alf Haakon Lund.

Alf lives in Aas which has a small population of only 8,000 - 9,000 people, mostly transient, due to a large percentage of them being students. And before my arrival, I was warned (by everyone!) that, "There's nothing in Aas except for an Agricultural University." And yet, that is precisely what makes Aas such a perfect location.

Alf, 30, is also a student and lives in a student residential area he fondly refers to as 'the Students Ghetto'. He's a very interesting and talented young man with a keen sense of humour and interests in many fields. First of all he's a computer whiz. Next he's a very competent musician (guitarist) who played regularly in a band only a couple of years ago. His knowledge about music and musicians was much better than mine (I'm keen on the history of modern music), though his music collection was mostly from alternative bands preaching anarchy more than anything else. In fact, during our many hours together, listening to some really weird music from equally weird bands, he shared many song lyrics with me. And the one that made the most impact on me, and stuck to my mind like glue, was this quote from Saft, a 70's Norwegian rock group.

"Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity." (isn't that so profound?)

But his most recent interest and expertise is in the very challenging indoor sport of � chess. And he's very good at it too. In July this year he became the Level 3 Champion of his club, thus promoting him up to the next level. I couldn't resist the temptation to challenge him to a game, but after I lost 2 straight games in a row (the first was a thriller) I couldn't tempt him to play me again.

And there's one other side of Alf which really impressed me. He's a doting father to his beautiful 3 year old son, Balder. Balder is the kind of kid who's like a bull in a china shop. Always running around, climbing on things, falling down and hurting himself, crying for a couple seconds, then getting up and doing it all over again as if nothing had happened. And Alf handles it masterfully. Even though I've been a parent for many more years than he has, I certainly learnt a few things from him, such as patience, tolerance, and avoiding the mind-set adults get stuck in. Watching Balder help Alf with the cooking was both frightening, yet inspiring. Why frightening? Because Balder was chopping up the vegetables!

Norway is lucky to have Alf. Aas is lucky to have Alf. And Balder is definitely lucky to have Alf.

This article is taken from the ebook,
Global Quest for Local LETS

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