As I wrote my post for March 17 on the ridderrenn, I realized that I had more to share than just 1 page. I would have written about it when I went to Norway as part of the U.S. team from SFL, but I didn’t have a blog back then. I’m not even sure if anybody had a blog back then. So here’s the rest of the story.
Even though I had never dreamed of going to Norway, it was an honor to be chosen, and it was a life-changing experience.
Any time you go to another country and experience the culture and get to know its people as individuals, it’s a gift. I found the language to be almost impossible to decyfer, until my guide Liv, who was born Norwegian and lives in Indiana now, taught me some basics, like please and thank you, and (very important,) “Will you dance with me?” I can still say that one after all these years, but I don’t have a clue how to spell it, but it sounds something like “Vil du donsa maya my? I said important, because in the evenings, there was dancing with live music, every single night. It was fortunate that I had memorized how to say “American” in Norwegian, because 1 night, Liv told me that a young blind man told her he would like to dance with me. She guided us both to the dance floor, and we danced. We had nothing to say to each other, because he knew absolutely no English, and all I could say in Norwegian was you are a very good dancer. That only goes so far. We danced 2 or 3 numbers, and then we were ready to go back to our respective tables, but where were they? We were both totally blind. Liv had said she would come and get us, but she got to talking to somebody and forgot. So the 2 of us went wandering around and bumping into the tables, listening for familiar accents. As I mentioned last time, there were people there from all over the world. I was getting a little panicky until finally, 1 of the Norwegians rescued us, and I told her to please find the Americans. The next dance was with a man who had no right arm. Liv had given me the heads up when he asked me to dance. Well, what was I supposed to do with my left hand, and how could he lead? Seeing my confusion, (He was sighted but spoke no English.) with his left hand, he placed my left hand on his right shoulder and took my right hand in his left. I was absolutely entranced how he could lead me with the pinky finger of his left hand. Think about, that my ballroom dancing friends. And then there was the man with the artificial leg from the knee down. He said he could dance anything but the polka. And remember, these guys were out on the ski trails too. I’m not going to use the word amazing, but it was humbling. I only had the challenge of being blind. I can’t imagine skiing with the use of only 1 arm, but then he probably can’t imagine skiing blind.
One evening, a bunch of us went to a favorite Norwegian restaurant. The specialty was shrimp. But to my dismay, they were served, whole, heads and tails included, on slices of buttered white bread. People rave about the food at the Ridderrenn, but I like my shrimp grilled or deep fried, or on the side of a cocktail glass at the very least. There was no such thing as low fat ice cream. We joked that just looking at it would cause our arteries to harden. And there were reindeer meatballs—I’m serious.
After the race week, we were treated to a busy schedule of sightseeing and shopping in Oslo. Our tour guide was 1 of our own SFL Norwegian guides, and she treated us like royalty. These were only a few of the highlights from this amazing time. I’d love for any of my SFL friends who read this blog to chime in on what a fabulous experience this is.