The brochures are full of romantic imagery. Awesome natural vistas.

But suppose you actually wanted to visit Sandnessjøen, Norway (population approximately 6,000).

You’d arrive by ferry or by crossing the most beautiful bridge in Norway (according to a poll of a technical weekly’s readers). These are some of the things you might see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A frequent sight: moose shit. Alsten, the island on which Sandnessjøen sits, has a very high concentration of moose. During the fall and winter, especially during the hunting season, you’ll see them wandering the streets.

Sandnessjøen is part of the region called “Helgeland”, and in his infinite wit, a local photographer has published a book called “Elgeland” (moose land).

If you enter town by the bridge, you drive past a large statue of a moose looming above the road.

So-called art photography? I’m not going to tell you what I think of art photography.
I’m the one who’s been with the Freemasons the longest… Oh, and with Lions, too.
Bjarne (former mayor). There was a secret room we didn’t get to see. The secrecy is for pedagogical purposes, he said. Makes it more exciting to advance within the order.
Drying fish.

In Sandnessjøen, oil and natural gas are creators of jobs and represent a much-needed injection into the local economy. This mural was done before Deepwater Horizon, but little indicates attitudes have changed since then.In Sandnessjøen, oil and natural gas are creators of jobs and represent a much-needed injection into the local economy. This mural was done before Deepwater Horizon, but little indicates attitudes have changed since then.

“Cold? I’ve got so many clothes on, I’m sweating.”Werner (winter service vehicle driver). Meanwhile, I was freezing my hands off.
Ahmed and Dan are applicants for asylum in Norway and live in a reception center in Sandnessjøen.
Modern-day dairy factory and reconstructed viking longhouse.
“If someone were to ask me about my identity, I’d have to say theatre.” Kirsti (ecological farmer), here with a bull. Kind as they come, she said, but if agitated, he may step on your toes. And he weighs a ton (literally). Kirsti and my mother are in an amateur theatre group together.

Henning, to the right, is my parents’ next-door neighbor. His wife died of cancer a few years ago. Henning has cancer, too, but has survived. His brother, Anstein, sits to our left. This is in Anstein’s apartment, and they’re in the middle of a story about I don’t recall what.
“Syvern” was a music festival. It suffered a massive budget deficit.
Tanja (nurse). Tanja is fronting the first and only mosque in Sandnessjøen.

This garage, I’ve decided, is the work of an avant-garde aesthete. It’s been sitting half-painted for more than a year.

 

Charity flea market. The volunteers working there were among the few people I asked who weren’t comfortable having their portrait taken.
“I run one of the most popular soccer tournaments in Northern Norway, and I don’t even like football.” Roger (youth club leader). Roger runs the charity which in turn runs the flea market, with the proceeds going to projects aiming to help poor people in the Phillipines, with his husband, who is Filipino.

 

Fin.