Forrest Oliphant

[ofo] getting to nih


Hej all,

back in Denmark after a week in Chamonix - Mont Blanc, France. Sorry to
those out of the loop, it has been awhile since my last big email. I
hadn't even left Tokyo with my sister... it's been a pretty busy couple
of months since then. Here are some highlights: a week at a youth
hostel in Ogasawara (a randomly Japanese tropical island accessible
only by a 25-hour ferry ride),,, back to Iwate with my sister to teach
folk dances & waltzing to all my students,,, goodbyes to all my
schools,,, goodbyes to all my Iwatelope friends,,, helping Taneichi's
new ALTs settle in, translating for them and introducing them to
schools and local festivals,,, getting accepted to Nordjyllands
(North Jutland Sports Folk High School, where I am now)
with 16 days to get from Taneichi, Japan to Brønderslev, Denmark,,,
missing the night bus for my departure,,, taking the shinkansen the
next morning and making onto the plane by half a hair's width (the last
standby passenger accepted),,, four nights at home, including two
contra dances,,, To øl tak.then
a plane to Hamburg and a train to Odense, where I meet Lindsey, and the
adventure begins (ha),,, we stay with Hanne "Belle" Jørgensen (formerly
of The Freight Hoppers), get the royal tour, and even get to jam on a
few oldtime tunes,,, get on the train to Brønderslev the next day.
After two train car changes we found some seats that were actually
headed where we were, and settled in for the last couple of hours of
the train ride. As a conductor firmly but politely reminded us, we were
in a "shh, no talking" car. "Oookay," I thought, marking the incident
down as Danish culture shock number one.

We (quietly) rolled into Brønderslev Station, and walked out to meet
the Anders, the school's representative. He took our bags and pointed
the five of us from that train towards the school. Lindsey and I had to
laugh as we started hiking... our first adventure had already been
assigned! We didn't say much of anything to the other kids as we
walked, which is funny to think about now... after a month of living,
eating, working, and playing with them, they feel about as close as can

leading up to Chamonix now feels like preparation for the trip. They
have all kinds of cool games and activities that people at the school
have come up with over the years. One of my favorites was like a
low-tech laser-tag game (with crumpled newspapers wrapped in tape
instead of lasers) played in a gym full of gymnastic equipment for
obstacles. They also got us to come up with games, in teams, of course.
One of those involved stealing clothespins from the back of the other
team's jerseys, which degraded into a big grabass fest. My favorite was
a kind of soccer / hockey hybrid, with one player of each sport tied
together with bicycle innertubes. That's when I met Bjarni, my big
Icelandic viking friend, who pulled me around the court making me feel
like it was more of a horse-and-chariot competition than anything else.

A more serious competition original to the school (?) is the
bike-and-run. I think this sport might have been born as a practical
solution to a bike shortage, but it's pretty cool. In one of it's
forms, a team of two people with one bike have a 10km course to
complete. When the teacher says "go," they have to copy the course to
their map (one per team). One person starts running, the other starts
biking, and it is up to them how often the biker leaves the bike for
the runner. It's a pretty exciting race, because you don't really know
your position until the end. Even if you are keeping up running with
people from other teams, they might get a bike before you, leaving you
in the dust.

After a month of such team-building hijinks with all these cats we got
in a two-level bus headed for Chamonix, France. More on that later...