This week the show opened with sereen pictures of rolling green pastures, snow top mountains and a quaint little farm with stabbur (traditional storage houses built on stilts so rats can’t get in).  The Alt for Norge Americans piled out of the bus and took a big whiff.  ‘Oh, smell that!’ The hunting videographer was a little sarcastic.  The folk enthusiast was describing the smell like a fine wine ‘smell the snow, mixed in with manure and fresh grass… like a snow perfume’.  With snowy mountains, a blue fjord with grassy fields, the gay games medalist said that the place was one of the most beautiful places he had been to in his life.  The priest was a little nostalgic and wondered why no one back home had ever mentioned how beautiful Norway was.

Just like at camp, the boys and girls had their own log cabins.  The wrestler laid on his dwarf bed, calves to toes hanging over.  All the boys came to the conclusion that Norwegians might not be as tall as they once thought.  The opera singer was freaking out.  She was sure that her cabin was a joke – maybe a storage area for their luggage?  But nope – the little wooden frames with matress slapped on top was the real deal.

The competitors arrived on the back of a truck with milk ‘spann‘ (milk buckets) to the days challenge.  In the field was a bunch of cows that needed to be herded through a small gate to the next field.  The team who herded the cows through in the quickest time won.  (This was the first time many contestants had seen milking cows, let alone herd them.)  Team A, gay games medalist, folk enthusiast, grandma, the opera singer and the wrestler came up with a game plan – to sing the cows home.  The folk enthusiast explained how you have to pick up on the cow’s energy and work with the energy to get the cows through the fence.  This advice certainly didn’t help.  The team managed to get the cows racing for the gate but near to, the sheer size of the gay games medalist spooked them.  Second time lucky.  Team B had an advantage as the hunting videographer had herded cows before.  Their tactic was to have two people bring the cows up from the rear.  The team thought having some nice wavy grass in their hands would be more tantalising for the cow than the grassy field the cows were standing in.  The mad dash up the hill to the cows left two team mates behind.  However, this worked in their favour and the cows were herded through the gate in 8.42 mins to win.

For dinner the contestants walked into a fine dining experience with silverware, white cloths and for dinner a traditional Norwegian… smalahove – sheeps head.   This dish is eaten usually around Christmas time and was seen as a paupers meal.  However, now it is a delicacy and is served as a tourist attraction at restaurants.  The meal has won some ground over the years and even has its oven website: www.smalahove.no   Smalahove is the head of a lamb.  The brain is removed, the head is salted and boiled and then the hair is burnt off with a blowtorch.  The contestants were instructed on how to eat it: ‘dig for the good meat’!  The lip, jaw and around the eyes are the fattiest parts and must be eaten first so the fat can be eaten warm and melt in your mouth.  The dessert or ‘milk’ is the lamb’s eye and is left til last.  When it is popped in your mouth the eye will melt into a gooy mush and leave a hard bead.  The bead is spat out onto the plate.  The wrestler ate the eye and was swishing round looking for the bead.  The folk enthusiast was honoured to eat such a meal and hoped for another plate full.  The gay game medalist was trying not to vomit.  As the dinner guests sang ‘Ja, vi elsker’ the opera singer picked up her eye.  ‘This is for you grandpa’ she said and scooped the googly thing in her mouth.  What a trooper!  In the end she was a little disappointed she didn’t get the bead.  (Maybe she swallowed it?)

Early the next morning the surfer stripped off and had a shower in the paddock with all the sheep watching – he was the only one to brave the outdoor shower with the outdoor morning cold.  The priest and hunting videographer found a shed with ‘aquavit’ pølse drying, presuming it must be a good marinade.  When asked what the opera singer thought the losers challenge would be she said ‘I don’t know, probably killing something’.  Many of the contestants expressed how wonderful it was to be in the place were they felt connected.

The loser’s challenge was to drive a tractor around cones in a field.  The gay games medalist was terrified but after his drive he said ‘what an adreniline rush’.  Before the opera singer climbed onto the tractor she looked at at the camera, ‘Have to get me man on’ and spat on the ground.  The grandma sang as she bounced al0ng in the tractor and the wrestler would have filled up ten swear jars.  The folk enthusiast had the best time she knocked over too many cones so the gay games medalist won the challenge and was now safe from going home.

  Team B were treated to river rafting for winning the cow herding challenge.  The priest, the surfer, the actor and the hunting videographer had a quick lesson on safety before getting in the water.  A soon as they hit the rapids they all bounced out of the boat and went floating down the river.  The surfer was the first to get back in the boat and pulled the hunting videographer in like a beached seal.  It was very impresssive.  But no matter how freezing the water was, the team was crazy about their trip.  The priest said he had been on many rafting rides and this was the ‘wildest ever’.

For the going home challenge the contestants were to performe at a bygdefest, a community party, and of course that meant more singing.  Tore Halvorsen, a popular dance band artist, rehearsed the contestants in singing “Nei så tjukk du har blitt” (Wow, You got Fat).  All the locals were invited to the party.  The Americans thought it very odd to hear real country music played in Norway.  For the contest the Grandma was up first.  She put a soccer ball up her shirt to look pregnant and sang her little heart out.  The wrestler belted out what he could.  The opera singer couldn’t help singing the country rock song in opera-style.  The folk enthusiast fitted in an ‘oink oink’ in her verse.  And the local’s verdict – the crowd loved their valour and two little boys were even dancing to their singing.  In the end one must always go home and this time it was Grandma.  It was very sad and I felt her disappointment.  All the contestants have been giving their heart and soul to the adventure.  No one has ever piked out or been a downer.  Grandma had proven that she was as young as the rest of them and was a real trooper.  Her leaving comments made us watching realise how this competition was worth more than money or fame: ‘…I tried very hard.  I’m very sad not being able to see my Norwegian family’.  This certainly makes is so much sadder when a contestant has to go home.

This week the Norwegian Spirit award went to the surfer for his bravery in both showering in front of the cows and pulling the hunting videographer out of the water.  He recieved a traditional troll as a token.  But next week looks very extreme!

So far I haven’t found any other clips on Youtube, sorry.  But here is the TV Norge web-TV channel for the Alt for Norge series.  You do have to pay to watch though. 

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