It was Easter this past weekend in case those of you in the U.S. forgot. Here in Norway it’s impossible to avoid. The office quickly emptied out last week as everyone headed for the hills, or mountains, to get their last ski trip in. Everything closed down Thursday, Friday, and Monday. Since Easter is not really celebrated in the U.S., at least not with days off work, I had kind of forgotten about this holiday, which is also popular back in New Zealand.

I joined the crowds leaving Oslo and caught a train to Hamer together with my friend John Rodsted, a photographer who documented the mines campaign and brought the field perspective to the diplomats, and his girlfriend Mette Elieussen, another old friend from the mines campaign. Mette grew up in Hamer, a town by a lake about 1.5 hours north of Oslo. A smaller town made famous by the 1994 Winter Olympics, Lillehamer, lies at the very northern end of the lake. I can’t remember the lake’s name, but it is huge and still frozen in parts.

We spent the weekend at Mette’s sister’s farmhouse together with one of Mette’s friends visiting from the U.S., Angela and her daughter Gabriella. The snow has disappeared from the streets in Oslo, but up in the mountains there was still plenty. We spent a day sledding down the hill behind the house and feeding about twenty sheep and their lambs. The sheep sleep in the barn at night, but spend the days outside munching on hay and running from the rather aggressive house cat Leo, who seems to really like the snow!

We also went cross-country skiing a couple of times, not far-ten kilometers-but still exhausting! Did all the usual Easter things like eating too much, including too many chocolate eggs. No drinking ‘caus we forgot to get to the State-run wine store before it closed at 4pm. All alcohol stronger than beer can only be purchased in these stores. We drank brandy Angela had brought instead!

When I came back to Oslo the winter sales were in full effect, so I bought some really nice skis and boots that were 70% off or $150 total. I’ll need to come back here to make any use of them! Now all the sports shops are full of bicycles for Spring! I have just eight days left here…