Faroe Island Essential Services

Police. Check.

Fire Department. Check.

Hospital Emergency Room. And check.

In an earlier blog about my travels in the Faroe Islands, I wrote about getting to experience the services of the police and fire department. In another blog I wrote about wanting to go deeper into the culture of the places I visit.

Thanks to a misstep today on what we had already named “an anything can happen day,” my friend and I spent a good part of the day in the emergency room of the National Hospital of the Faroe Islands.

The day had started so very well. We had cappuccinos and morning buns with rhubarb jam and cheese in a new cafe, followed by a lovely stroll through a bookstore that is centuries old. We visited the post office to buy interesting stamps for letters home.

The day had turned gray and cold, and on our way to another island, we were looking for a place to buy a bowl of soup. And then my friend took a tumble.

We took a detour to the National Hospital instead.

It’s a bit difficult to navigate a medical system where all of the signage and instructions are in another language. However, we found our way, and the medical personnel who cared for my friend could not have been kinder.

We also learned how to have a prescription filled in the Faroes (yet one more check), and how to have it filled with instructions in English (and another check).

Before we left the ER, we did think to ask our doctors for advice for the best place to go for soup.

They were right.

And my friend? A few stitches, a tetanus shot, and several bandages later, we’re taking an early night. And plans for more adventures tomorrow.

This blog is posted with the full approval code of the unnamed patient.

Why I love the Faroe Islands

On the drive today, my friend and I were talking about where we want to travel next. We’ve been traveling together for nearly thirty years and have many favorite places.

We are aware that we are oldering. We do gentle walks instead of hikes. Beauty is important to us. We now require a layer of ease that was not necessary when we began to travel together.

We talked today about not enjoying places with crowds. We do not require the novel that was essential years ago.

I still love traveling to foreign places. I am curious about how people live their day by day in cultures different from mine.

I think part of this yearn to travel is because I’ve only lived in one state my entire life. For me, there is a wondering about lives different from mine.

Maybe it’s because I don’t speak Faroese that I feel a gentleness here. The conversations I have are that—conversations. We both agree to speak English as our common language. Then it’s a voice. A listen. A response. I’m not off darting and lunging on distractions, particularly those which involve the news.

COVID tests are free and easily available. Results are back within hours. For the first time in months, I am able to walk freely without a mask because of their excellent COVID strategy.

The beautifully maintained roads, no matter the size of village they lead to, have yet to go past a less than stunning view.

Even the gas stations have espresso machines, and pristine bathrooms. The soft serve ice cream is a bonus.

There is a sensitivity to “our fragile earth, our island home.” The wind turbines providing some of our power are sculptures. The water from the tap is cold and tasty.

And did I mention the sheep?

A trip to an island

There is so very much I love about being in the Faroes.

Internet is good and only found in a few places. It’s a different approach to life not to be able to find answers instantly. That means having to ask questions if information is absolutely essential. It also means a sabbath from the deluge of news that I’ve allowed to overwhelm my day when I’m at home.

A trip to an island.

Each morning is started with coffee at some local place. This morning we are enjoying our drinks outside by the harbor, and the local duck has decided to join us.

A trip to an island.

The Faroes consist of eighteen islands; traveling between them requires an excellent system of ferries, tunnels through mountains and under the fjord waters, and even some bridges. That means that sometimes travels actually have to planned in order not to have an extended stay in a remote place. So far. So good for us.

A trip to an island.

And the sheep! The sheep! The sheep!

I understand there are more sheep than people in the Faroes. Sometimes the sheep run up to greet us. More often, they run when we stop, thus messing with my carefully planned photo.

A trip to an island.

The kindness of strangers

If I’ve learned anything on my travels, it is to be able to pivot and find joy when the unexpected happens.

My friend and I got an early-ish start so that we could drive far to the east. We found a coffee house that opened before the others, and I was trying to direct us through the narrow, twisty streets of Torshavn, and the most unexpected happened.

The solution involved the best of Faroese hospitality: an apprentice construction worker, a family of three, a mother in law, two police officers, two fire fighters, two neighbors, a representative of the Icelandic embassy, and a group of tourists.

When I travel, I like to try to get a true flavor of what it would be like to live in a place. This I did today.

When we got our car stuck while trying to turn around, a series of Faroese strangers helped us negotiate our challenge.

A young apprentice helped us call the police for help.

A neighboring family invited us into their home for coffee, tea, and morning buns.

As we rested, their mother in law watched out the window for the firefighters to come and figure out how to pull the car out of its overhanging position.

The firefighters took our payment with their visa card reader, and two hours later, we were on our way.

My heart is full with the generous kindness and hospitality that could have become a trip tragedy into a time for experiencing the fullness of being loved by neighbors, and strangers now are friends.