Change1 and 2!
I first came to Colombia as a sailor 1970! I was only 19 years old and my life was fantastic as a sailor. To be able to see and experience the world at such a young age and at that get paid for doing it.
It was my second time in South America. The first time was with a cargo ship sailing to Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. At that time in my life it was exotic and exciting to be able to come so far as a teenager. It was such an adventure! So many fantastic memories andexperiences and at the same time, it also grew me up very fast. Coming away from the home of my parents, where my mother did everything…cooking, cleaning, laundry and even making my bed! Imagine the contrast for this spoiled teenager….nobody did anything for me on the ship and on top of it all, my job was to serve the crew their meals and afterwards do the dishes. No dishwasher in thoose days…I was the dishwasher 3 times a day…breakfast, lunch and dinner for 20 crew!
Also sometimes when I came to start working in the morning it was full of dishes because this was also the crews livingroom at night. In the evening they usually stayed here to play cards, drink and just hang out. Strangely enough I would not trade this experience with my comfortable room at home for anything! It was hard and lots of work, but at the same time I loved the atmosphere on the ship. It has a certain aura being a sailor and many get stuck and never go ashore again…one time a sailor always a sailor. It is a mini society with a distinct hierarchy from the captain on top and down to the messboy scrubing floors and doing dishes. You knew your place and somehow that was a security/safety/comfort all at one time. This was also good for a spoiled teenager that was used to do what he wanted to do at any time.
Why I write alllllll this in connection with my passion for Colombia, comes from something someone said to me once or maybe I read it somewhere but it got stuck to my mind
”To truly/really know someone you have to genuienly be interested in that persons history/background/life..everything! Than you can begin to comprehend and understand this person!”
So to understand me and what has made me the person I am today is very complicated to say the least. I sometimes wonder myself if there can be a full explanation or understanding? I have divided my life into roughly 10 major lifechanging events where I distinctly changed course and made a u-turn in my life. Sometimes by choice but also by force(where I am not in control).
Nr1 Being born! I grew up in small town in the 50s beginning 60s. I was a very quiet good boy, a little shy, a little fat and did not raise my voice. My father worked in a factory, mother home when I was little, 2 older sisters. A normal lower middleclass family! Very cosy. We had a summer house by a lake outside of town where I spent my summers. But all this was going to change when I turned teenager…of course I could add many more things here and maybe will, but for now this is enough!
Nr2. Second change in my life! Around 1963 the music scene in the world changed radically with the Beatles, Rolling Stones leading the way! As 13 year old my hair grew and so did my habits. Drugs came into my life and new interests also. School was not so important or interesting any longer even if I fulfilled my 9 years and 1 year in office/economic school also. This is when I decided to drop out. I had just started a 3 year education, high school, when I turned 17 and at that time I could decide what I wanted to without parental intervention or apporval and I did. Even though I was not of legal age which at that time was 21.
So the autumn of 1968 I went up to the headmaster and said I quit school and that I am going to go sailing! Went home and said the same thing to my parents and told them I wanted to go sailing on a ship. They were not happy but what could they say to a rebel and very determined teenager. My father drove me to the nearby town so I could get the necessary shots to be able to apply and be approved to enter and work on a ship. This all happened autumn 1968 and end november I got called for a job on cargoship that went to the east coast of South-America.
Nr3.(in a way this is a continuation of nr.2 as you will understand). So now I was for the first time on a ship. It was an old cargoship built 1948. M/S Guayana – Johnsson-line! My cabin was on deck in the back of the boat. A very small cabin that I shared with another sailor. I got the upper bunk and a small closet place. The first night when we still were at the quay, I got seasick! Imagine that! We had not yet left the port. Where would this end? In the morning I had to get up and start my job no matter what. There was no formal 3 day introduction working beside an experinced employee. No way I had to learn as I went and really learn by doing. Of course the crew ”helped” me. They instructed me to get this and that, kept me very busy until I had gotten the routine about what was expected from me. I was the lowest of the low on the boat like I mentioned before. So we first went to Stockholm to pick up some cargo and then to Gothenburg before we finally set course for Rio de Janeiro.
Imagine it was at the end of november and quite chilly and cold on the North-sea! With that old boat it was a trip that nearly took 2 weeks from Gothenburg to Rio de Janeiro. We stopped in Las Palmas for fuel before the last leg across the Atlantic. I loved this crossing. The 360 degrees view with only water everywhere. The sun coming up over the horizon and the amazing sunsets seeing the sun ”drown” in the ocean! I quickly learned the routines of the job and in this way I could enjoy the trip much more. Especially learning to check the wind before throwing the garbage overboard! Otherwise it will come right back at you! Another thing was outside of Portugals coast I got to see big blue whales jumping. So majestically to see how graceful they were being that big. And when we came to warmer waters I loved to hang over the rail in the front of the boat and watch the dolphins swim along the ship and jumping in front of the bow! And suddenly the horn sounded!! We were crossing the equator! I was on the other side of the earth suddenly!
Such was life on the ship and I learned to love it! So strong are these memories that I still today remember them and treasure them. Magic moments in life! I can also remember so well when we approched Rio de Janeiro and coming into the port. It was christmas eve 1968 and it was HOT and humid! My ever first christmas in the tropics and ever first time! The strange thing is that they have everything else that you have for christmas except the cold and the snow! All the lights and decorations and Santa Claus and in abundance, but no snow and , +30degrees in the shadow and incredible humidity!
There was only one negative thing that happened my first time to go ashore and that was that I got robbed. It was a gang of young kids that surrounded me and asked for money and cigarettes. They acted a little threatening so I gave it to them! But they did not know that before I left the ship, the boatsman instructed me to always keep my money divided into 3 places and especially have emergency money in your sock! This rule follows me still today! Never put all your ”eggs” in one basket so to say. This is the only time I got robbed during my years as a sailor and it was in broad daylight as well. And believe me there has been many opportunities!
So this first trip to South America and the other side of the world was so so educational for me that it still lives in me today. Trying to put on paper is difficult. When I look at this experience I see it as the best education ever. No book, school, academic, university, professor, wise men etc can never teach you life like this. The-self-lived-experienced-lesson! The university of Life!
During this first trip I also visited Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay. My visit to Buenos Aires was a little ”boring” because I was not of age, they have a strict 20 years limit, so I could not go to clubs or bars at night. The 10 days we stayed there I got to do some sightseeing and saw the famous obelisc in the center of Buenos Aires. Argentina by the way was also a different experience and much more a mix of spanish and german/european culture! This can be because after the second world war a lot of nazis and other germans fled to Argentina to start a new life. And you can see the german influence in some ways. And funny enough there are many jews also, they manage the banking system.
Montevideo that are just straight across from Buenos Aires, separated by the bay of Rio de la Plata, was just like coming back to the latin/spanish South America. I remember I liked Montevideo, not only because that I could go to bars and drink, but it was more of a laid back easy city. We only stayed there for a couple of days and then the trip went up to Brazil and then back over the Atlantic ocean again. We were back in Europe at the beginning of february. The first port was Antwerpen in Belgium and after that to Gothenburg. When we came to Gothenburg I had a mini holiday for one week when I could go home and visit my folks and friends. Which was nice but went very quick. Then it was back to the boat and time for the second journey, which I did not mind at all! I had learned to love this kind of life and the lifestyle! So the second trip to the Southamerican eastcoast was good and I started to get the hang of it, the routines with the work etc and also coming to the different ports, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Recife. We returned to Sweden around may 1969 and it was time for me to sign off! I got my last pay, collected my souvenirs and headed for the central station in Gothenburg. My father picked me up in Halmstad and took me home. During this last trip I had decided to become a waiter and applied for the school in Malmö. The reason I did this is so I could become a waiter on board the boat, where you serve the passengers (these cargo boats had about 10 cabins for passengers) and the captain, the chief and first officer. So this was the idea that I would go back to the sea after completed education.
So who was I? What was I like? Who did I hang out with? My likes and dislikes! I touched the subject in the first chapter. I got in touch with drugs, pot, when I was around 14. There was this guy, Chris(I call him this here), he was older than the rest of us but he stuck out with his long hair and afghan fur coat, the most popular hippiegarment you could have. Anyway he had something that we knew very little about called hashish! We read about it in the english music papers that we picked up every week at the central kiosk in the center of town. It was the highlight of the week when Melody Maker and the New Musical Express arrived. We were quite a few that read them like the bible of what was going on in the music world. They were in english so we got quite fluent in english because of these weekly papers. Anyway these papers wrote not only about the music scene but also about the musicians and their lifes. This was quite a wild life and drugs was a big part of this. So in this way we got all the info and as we liked the music, we got curious about this new thing, drugs!
Local groups were being formed all over town and performing at the infamous, famous Peoples Park or at some other smaller joints a little here and there in town. It is amazing, looking back, how many groups popped up. And were making a name for themselfes. Some of them still exist to this day, 2017! I also tried with some friends and was trying to play bas guitarr. It went for some time as long as I could borrow the bas, but when I wanted to have my own, my father said no! Too much money. This ended my music career, before it even started.
Anyway one evening in the center of town, one of my friends had a piece of this thing called hashish that he had gotten from Chris. My friend had also learned how to prepare it and mix it so we could smoke it. By this time I was already smoking cigarettes and was hanging around the centre of town nearly every night. Was only home for sleep and eat just about. My hair grew and clothe style changed all to my parents chock trying to figure out and understand what happened to this introvert, kind, quiet boy! And to give you the big picture how much my parents had to go through and that is, that this journey of being dropped out did not stop until I turned 40 years. I did drugs for about 7 years and quit when I was about 20! In a way it did not stop there it just changed direction into another face of my life! The religious life. Read on and it will all come.
So here I was, my first time being introduced to this new thing called drugs! I think it was in the late spring so it was fairly warm and we went to this park in the centre of town to test it out. My friend mixed it and put it in a pipe and we smoked it. I will not tell you how you mix but it is a ceremony and I became a master of it later and was nearly always asked to be the mixer, the magician! Something to write in a cv! Anyway we passed the pipe to each one of us and I was waiting for a reaction, some action! Like when I tried alchool the first time I could really feel it right away, but here when I smoked this hashish…I waited and waited and nothing happened but my friends seemed to have a ball. Laughing and joking so I faked it to fit in!! So stupid of me. Sometimes I wonder why it did not stop there since I did not get any kick. Because after this it went on for nearly 7 years and I did not have to fake it anymore!
We were a tight group that hung out together and got turned on regularly. A couple of times a week at least. Sometimes right under the nose of our parents. Thinking how strong the smell is from the pot and they had no clue. To them we were just a bunch of innocent teenagers listening to music as our big interest. Sometimes they came with lemonade and fresh baked buns just to be nice to us when we were getting high and listening to music in my friends room. They should have known. The first house we could gather in more privately and where the local bands were playing and practising was close to the center and easy to get to. Here we hang out until we got this other house more on the outskirts of town. I remember one evening at this first house we were sitting in a room on the second floor. The door was closed and the only light was candles and burning insense sticks like crazy! Bob Dylans new double album Blonde on Blonde had just came out. And we were smoking and smoking the whole time listening to the record over and over again when suddenly the candles went out! There was not enough oxygen in the room for them to burn!! This could happen and happened!
So here you get a taste of who I was at this time and what was going on during my teenage years!
By the way this is still under Change nr.3!
So after I signed of the boat it was the summer of Love, 1969! An incredible summer and I dont remember anything! Ha! That is what life was like in my younger years. Actually the summers of Love was nearly every summer from 1964 until 1971 for me and also winter of Love! It is not true, I have some memories but they come later! And soon the summer was gone and I started school in Malmö. A fairly large city in the south of Sweden. Here I started at a restaurant school to learn to be a waiter. I had a great time and the school consisted of some learning to cook and others to do first course dishes and deserts and where I went, learning to be a waiter. And for a couple of hours everyday we had a restaurant where the public could come and eat. It was very popular because here they could eat good food for very cheap price since it was a school and provided good training for us. It was always full of people.
I still to this day remember this man that came every day and was always the first in line to come in. He was a big and I mean big fat man and older! He smelled like he had not had a bath for months or maybe years! It was always a struggle to serve him because he was picky also and as you know ”the customer is always right”! Maybe it is because of his smell the memory sticks to my mind, because not so many other things sticks or are remembered from that time.
I smoked a lot during that year and also took acid/lsd! Quite a few times actually. Maybe I write later about my first experience with acid which was quite a trip! So this year in school went fast and I actually did very well and got good grades, mainly because we had a lot of fun and great schoolmates. Our headteacher was kind of funny and an alcoholic at that, but managed to keep up the teaching somehow and make it fun at the same time. He managed to keep our interest and I made it through that first year.
The second year was to be at an actual restaurant and I moved home and was going to do my practise at the local hotel/restaurant that was the best in my hometown. The linen cloths were blinding white, the salt and pepper shakers were shining, the maitre de hotel had an impeccable suit and the waiters had short white jackets, black pants, shining shoes and a bow tie around the neck. Last but not the least, the waiter always wore a napkin over his arm and was never far away from a tray. The napkin was a multi instrument, when the plates were hot or when you served from the hot platter full of food to hold under it or when you served wine to catch the drop from the bottle or to use it as a broom to clean of crumbs from the table and many other things. Anyway the owner of this restaurant really treated me like the lowest of the lowest and made me do stupid things! Clean the silver, be sure the glasses are clean, wipe the salt and pepper shakers and make sure they are full, fold napkins. To let me serve a guest happened maybe on occasion.
Anyway in short I disliked this very much so I didnt last long there. I started working there at the end of may and in the middle of june the schools were having their graduation parties. My old friends from gradeschool were having their graduation from high school and guess where they had their graduation dinner? At the hotel where I was working and it was kind of funny me serving them while they were having fun! This really got at me and I also got to hear that the next day there would be a great party and if I could come. Of course I will come I said but there was only one catch, my so called trainee job! I went to the owner and asked to be free the next day so I could celebrate and party with my old friends. He said ” No Torbjörn you cannot have the day off!”! So what was my answer to that?
I told him he wont see me tomorrow because tomorrow pleasure comes before work! I told this to him with such conviction so he told me that if I dont come tomorrow my trainee job is no more. Ok I said and left! I did not show up the next day at the restaurant but I showed up at the party with my friends! Was quite a night. The day after, monday, I went back to the restaurant and it got confirmed that my trainee job was finished and the school was notified. I got some money from the trainee job and wondered what to do next. I did not want a new trainee job anyway. The school was fun but working in a snobbish restaurant was not my cup of tea. The summer passed and in the early autumn I decided to work on a ship again. And this time it was quite different from the first time.
This summer was later to become famous as the summer of 69! The second summer of Love, the year Woodstock happened! The first summer of love is much connected to the Beatles album Sgt.Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band!
So I was again out of work, dropped out, and I got a temporary summer work for 3 weeks at my fathers factory to do some cleaning things. Just to get some money because my parents did not want to pay everything for me. It was enough they paid for room and board. I lived for free and ate for free. In a way a very luxurious life, but back then I did not look at it that way. If you did not have money/cash you were poor.
After the 3 weeks of work at the factory it was time for salary! I got the money on a friday and my friend told me that his sisters apartment in Malmö was free for a week and we could borrow it. I dont think we even packed a bag but just went out on the highway and hitchhiked to Malmö. In those days I hitchiked all over the place. It was my way of getting from point A to point B! It always worked out except one time when I was with a friend in Halmstad for midsummer celebration. We were at this beach drinking and getting turned on when in the middle of the night we decided to hitch hike home to Ljungby. So we got out on the highway and started hitchhiking. To make a long story/walk short and that is we walked the whole way to Ljungby over 70 kilometers. It was midsummer celebration and hardly any cars that night. We were lucky with the weather anyway the whole way but no ride. I slept straight for 2 days, I think, after that walk.
Anyway back to our trip to Malmö. We got a ride and arrived in the evening and as customary we bought a case of beer and started the party. The day after we decided that we were going to Copenhagen and party there. On the ferry over we got quite a few beers and when we got to Copenhagen we went into the first liquor store and got a small bottle of vodka each. In Denmark you dont have to be 21 like in Sweden (in thoose days) to buy strong liquor. We were already pretty drunk and with this vodka it was overload! After we finished it we decided that we would go to the Tivoli and have some fun, but by the time we arrived at the Tivoli the alchool had taken full force in our bodies! Meaning taking over completly! If you can say we were drunk on a scale from 1 to 10 we were 15! Anyway we got to the Tivoli and I think we paid and then the guards threw us out, but the police took my friend and put him in a cell but me they left alone! That night I did not sleep a wink, I moved from bench to bench and threw up constantly. I was sick!
Finally I managed to find my way down to the port and wait for the first boat over to Malmö and Sweden. I was sitting in a doorway waiting for the clock to be 7. I got harassed by a gay guy that maybe thought I was gay but no way! So I fled to another doorway to wait. At the time when the boat was about to leave my friend showed up and the police had let him out and told him to get back home quickly. It was such a relief to see him and we could return to Sweden after a very strange odd not-so-funny night in Copenhagen!
So when we got back we decided that no more drink but we buy some pot instead. In Malmö there is/was a famous square where you went if you wanted to buy drugs. So we went there and got a piece of pot! And this was quite strong stuff, so after we smoked we were totally incapicitated for quite a few hours. This was the last we did because the money was gone and it was time to go back home!
As usual it was hitchiking that was our transportation. We got to a motell around 50 kilometers from home where we rested and had a coffee for a few minutes before hitchiking the last part of the way, when 2 policemen suddenly came up to us and asked if we were so and so! Yes we said kind of surprised and wondered what we had done now. Your parents are looking for you and have called us, the police, to look for you. We were surprised because we had just acted like normal teenagers with no care for anybody else! Anyway they gave us a ride the last 50km home. Nice getting home in a policecar! And the summer was not finished yet. I believe that I was a little too care free for my parents taste. I cant believe how much agony I caused them in their life. You will understand if you follow my story.
I devoted one chapter to my first time smoking pot which did not have any effect on me, but this first time trying acid/lsd was something totally different. I was visiting my friends outside Helsingborg in south of Sweden. I think this was the summer of 1968! Right across from Helsingborg you had Denmark and the city of Helsingör. This is the city where the famous Shakespeare play Hamlet take place. It is quite a small town but with the beautiful castle of Kronborg.
It was summer and a wonderful warm sunny day. We decided to take the ferry across and go to a club situated close to the castle. There was a live band playing. As usual when you come over to Denmark it is easy to find all kinds of drugs and this time I decided to try acid/LSD. And was I in for a chock, surprise and experience! The actual pill/tablet is so small and there are variations of concentration. They all have different names to let you know who made them and who wants the credit. I dont remember all the names now and I dont care. Anyway I popped it and was sitting down listening to the music and waited to see if anything was going to happen. I had smoked some pot so I was already intoxicated, when suddenly things started to happen. The floor I was sitting on became a wave like water. I clasped my hands to the floor to hold on. The music and musicians disappeared into a fog and litterally turned into a multicoloured music concert. At first I was in chock but could understand that this was the effects of LSD. I was quite incapacitated and could hardly move. My balance was set out of function. I started to get a little nervous if this hallucinations was ever gonna stop or had I entered a place a room that I could not get out of and get back to the normal.
But strangely enough I felt quite calm and at peace in this confused uncontrolled state of mind. Hard to explain why but this is what is it was like. When we travelled back to Helsingborg and Sweden my friends had to help me walk and I was a little worried when we came to Sweden that the police or customs would see my state and lock me up but I guess they thought I had had a beer too much and was just drunk. Eventually I ”landed” and the drug had left my body! I was exhausted and slept for quite a few hours. I am not proud to say this but I continued with acid for the next 3-4 years and took quite a few. They were not all good and the last time I took it, it almost killed me and since that time I have never touched it again and am propagating against it with my whole heart. I will tell you later about this experience because this is the start of stage 4 in my life!
It is a very dangerous drug to play with and have caused more damage we can ever imagine. So this is in no way a propaganda to take drugs. It is just my story and later I will describe also the hell the drugs bring.
A person taking drugs is going through 3 stages, easily defined. And this is my definition. Nr 1 I call the honeymoon stage when you are totally in love with the drug and nobody can tell you it is bad. You think you are in control and know best. I liken it to fall in love for the first time when you are a teenager. This is when you are BLIND and DEAF to advice and suggestions and council from anyone outside.
Nr 2 is when you come in to the stage when you are kind of established and you identify yourself with the drug. It is no longer you who define the drug it is the drug that defines you. You still think you are in control, but there is that creeping feeling that something is taking over your life and you are not in control anymore. But you cant put your finger on it. Your friends give you credit for having the best dope and can mix good stuff etc. You become somebody and this means IDENTITY, being somebody. So slowly the role of the addict is being formed and you dont know it until one day it can be too late. You have to decide to go on to STAGE 3! The addict! This is when you realise that all those things that you were warned for has happened, but it is too late. This is the power of the drug being narcotics, alchool, cigarettes, gambling etc.
I will devote one chapter later on how I was very close to enter stage 3 and what made me change.
So now I have written some about my crazy life. Anyway after I dropped out of that work or practise at the hotel restaurant in my hometown, I decided that after the summer (1970) I would go sailing again. I felt very much at home on the boat. This time I signed on to a boat called m/s Los Angeles and this time it went to the other side of South-America which meant Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Equador, Peru and finally Chile!!
But this time I was not working with the crew and serving them or even the officers but now I was serving the captain, chief(responsible for the engine of the ship) and first officer. I think I wrote in my first chapter about how these old cargoboats also had a section for passengers and so did m/s Los Angeles. And of course did these distinguished passengers get to eat with the captain every day. Especially the supper/evening meal was just something. By the way the people that choose to cross the Atlantic in this way had to pay quite a bit of money as you can understand. And they got the value for every penny. They had a special deck where their cabins were, I think there were about 10cabins so lets say there could be a maximum of 20 passengers. 2 in each cabin. So here I was serving them breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything in between. Drinks, coffee, snacks….you name it. One important thing and that is that this deck with the passengers were absolutely off limit for the rest of the crew. And absolutely no mingling with the passengers. This could result that you got fired.
So here I was on my second boat and I felt at ease and relaxed. This time I had my own cabin and was not sharing with anybody. It was below deck and just beside the engineroom. So you can guess what sound put me to sleep every night. But I had a nice window just above the sealevel so I could look out at the waves, but it was better to keep it close if the waves were going high.
Anyway here I was on my way to Southamerica again. So happppy! We went out from Gothenburg and then down to Antwerpen in Belgien as last stop in Europe. After that it was out at sea for more than 10 days. This is what it took to cross over to Caribbean and the first port we came to was Curacao an island that was a Dutch colony before. We fueled up before we continued and came to the first port on mainland Southamerica, La Guiara which is the portcity of Caracas, Venezuela. After that we came to Santa Marta in Colombia and this was my first time there, the fall of 1970! A fantastic small porttown just on the edge of the Caribean sea. This is the town I have come back to several times in recent times and also have my girlfriend there since 2011. To me it is amazing now over 40 years later I am back in Colombia and Southamerica. After this we went on to Cartagena de Indias another town I have been back to many times in recent times.
Going through the Panama Canal is quite an experience and during this trip I got to go through it 4 times. The narrow canals and all the different locks, lifting and lowering the ship. Sailing on the lake of Panama was also fantastic and a little surreal. This big ship on this tiny lake and the rainforest so close you could almost reach out and touch it. And then out through the canals and the locks into the Pacific Ocean!
And here I was on the west coast of Southamerica! The first port being Buenaventura still in Colombia. Because Colombia borders both to the Atlantic(Caribbean) and the Pacific Ocean. After this we continued to Guyaquil the port city of Quito, Equador. Continue down to Callao, portcity of Lima, Peru. And last but not least my favourite country in Southamerica , Chile! When we came to Valparaiso, portcity of Santiago, a beautiful city right on the Pacific. We stayed there for nearly 2 weeks and I just loved it. There is an adjoining exclusive resort close by Vina del Mar, where I spent a lot of magic moments.
To tell the truth it was here I first meet and fell in love with a latinwoman! And imagine for a 19 year old romantic idealist, emotional to get to know this temperament!! I still to this day remember the days, weeks with Patricia! Still remember her name, red hair, beautiful that swept me away! It was to the point that when we left Valparaiso I was very close to stay and jump the ship! It hurt so much to leave her that I can remember the feeling to this day!(2016)!
I will most definetly devote one or maybe 2 chapters to the women in my life! Not like they are some collectors item or I have scored! No way! It will focus on the respect I have for women and how they have been so important to make me the one I am today. So it is about respect even if they have hurt me immensly! But this is what happens when you fall in love and think that love is pure and cannot do any harm!
This chapter is about how my sailor days came to an abrupt end! Many times this has happened in my life, where the door closes on my life and what I was doing and there is no going back whatsoever! Some have been choices that I made with my control so to say but some of them were imposed/forced on me. Thoose changes are the hardest but sometimes the most neccesary to get you out of a rut that you cannot get out from by your own will! Will elaborate on this in a later chapter!
So here I was on m/s Los Angeles on my way back to Europe after my second voyage on this boat. As you probably understand some of us on the boat were smoking grass the whole time! And believe me, that smell is impossible to hide! Before leaving south america I bought quite a bit of marijuana to last the trip over the atlantic and also to bring some with me home as well.
But it was at this time I seriously started to reflect about my life and where I was heading. I could see myself becoming more dependent on the drug and I did not like that feeling. I had tried many times to reduce the quantity taking drugs but every time I was back doing it again! This is what scared me. The drugs I bought in Colombia was to be my goodbye/farewell to drugs. It was the idea anyway, but it was a stupid idea! Every drug addict start like this!!! Only this time also and then I will quit!
Anyway the 10 days crossing the Atlantic returning to Europe and Sweden was many days with many thoughts. When we came to Antwerpen in Belgium, I decided to also buy two Lsd trips to mark my goodbye to drugs as well. But on the way to Gothenburg, something told me to get rid of the grass because this would only make me continue with drugs and not help me stop! So in the night before we arrived to Gothenburg I went up on deck and through the whole package of grass overboard, but decided to keep the 2 Lsd tablets. I still imagine some fish getting stoned and maybe they even tried to fly!
We arrived early in the morning to the port. I carefully packed all my stuff, lots of souvenirs from Chile, Peru and Colombia. The 2 pills of Lsd I carefully hid with lots of brown tape as I secured the boxes with souvenirs. Since the signing of was first in the afternoon, I decided to take my luggage to the station in the meantime. When I came to the trainstation and had gone through customs, I figured that now it was all clear. So I took the 2 pills from the brown wrapping tape and put them in my bag. Left everything at luggage storage and went back to the boat to sign off, I thought!
I had just come back in my cabin to get some last things, when customs stormed in and started to turn my cabin upside down! They had me strip down naked (actually twice this happened) and checked me in my ass. Where have you hid it? They asked. I looked as innocent and surprised as I could and answered ”What?” But it was easy to understand what they were looking for but they did not find anything. I later learned that somebody from the crew had tipped off the customs, that I was having lots of drugs!!
So they got very frustrated because they did not find anything. They had a dog as well, sniffing down my cabin but nothing! You can imagine their happiness when they found my ticket for the luggage storage at the trainstation. So off we went with me between 2 custom officers looking like the worst criminal as well as being treated as one. We came to the trainstation and I had to check out all my luggage. We went to the big customs office where they literally turned everything inside out. But one guy took my shoulder bag and turned it upside down and started to examine every little thing that was in it. Guess if I was nervous and wished that I hadnt taken the pills from the box and put it in my wallet. The other 3 or 4 guys were searching my luggage while this one guy meticously went through my purse. I knew it was just a matter of time before he would find the pills.
Finally he found this brown tape and said ”What do we have here?” I dont know ! You find out, I said kind of angry. Mostly angry at myself that I had not left it wrapped up in the box, because then they would have never found it, but now the moment of truth had come. They were so happy that they had found something but they were expecting a lot more. So they analysed and could confirm that it was Lsd.
They formally charged me with smuggle of drugs and I admitted to it and was later fined 600swedish crowns. Returning to the ship and signing off, they put a stamp in my book that I was no longer welcome as a sailor ever! This was the end of my sailor days. But the trip was not over yet. My father picked up at halmstad trainstation and it was easy to see that he was not too happy. We drove silently the 70 km back to Ljungby. One more thing that disgraced my poor parents more and that was that at the police station a close relative was working as a criminal detective! So I was a disgrace to the family as well! But in some ways their ignorance and having really no idea of what drugs, hippies etc is or was was their mental protection from my crazy life. They grew up in a completly different world.
But was this the end of me doing drugs? I was not finished yet….
The summer of 1971, my last summer with drugs, cigarretes, beer and meat!! Meeting the girl that would be a help to take the step to a new life!
So coming home after what happened when I signed off the ship in gothenburg. Now I was a criminal drug user as well! I dont say addict because I was not there yet! It was the beginning of summer 1971 and I had absolutely no idea what I should do. I had some money from the time of the ship, but as good as I was with money they were quickly spent!
One thing that I was sure off and that is that I had to quit drugs or they would ”quit” me! I mentioned briefly before that a new idea had begun to take shape in my head. Instead of just living life and let everything just pass without any thought or reflection, a creeping thought began to take root inside me. Not only in my mind but also the way I felt. The care free, happy-go-lucky, carpe diem flying person was coming in for landing! With lots of questions in the luggage to be checked out. And on the outside of the suitcase was written in big letters ”WHY?”! Now I had to open it and so to say clean all my dirty laundry, my confusing past years! I seriously started to doubt everything that I had done, what I was thinking and I had no idea , ” no direction home!” This song from Dylan summarize pretty much the state I was in. Jimi Hendrix also sang in a song that also made me take it seriously ”if you want to get off of this alive, you need to get off this cloud!” maybe it is not exactly but the meaning/message was clear. Dead or find a new lifestyle! There was no golden middle way, there was(or is) no compromise with drugs! In short drugs are out to get you whether you want it or not. Sad to say quite a few of thoose I grew up with and knew from primary school fell victims to drugs and are now dead because of drugs! RIP.
One album that took me through this period was George Harrissons ”All things must pass”. It became my lullaby that put me to sleep every night. I guess by now you have figured it out that the hardline atheist was becoming somewhat religious!!! What a change. But it does not come easy. I still needed one more final kick in my behind to understand that life is not a game to just throw away.
This was summer and I was still doing drugs. And yes it was my grande finale or my grande end? If you, whoever, read this remember that I bought 2 lsd/acid tablets in Antwerpen that the customs busted me on!! These tablets were thougth to be my farewell to drugs and the customs ” robbed” me of this, so to say! In my mind it was still there to finish with drugs by taking an acid trip. So I got one and it was a beautiful in the middle of the summer day. When I popped it we were in the centre of town. And the acid started working by a feeling that everything kind of began turning into liquid and I melted into this liquid mass. We were sitting in my friends car here in the middle of town feeling and probably acting very strange. I could hardly speak but I formulated the words ”please drive out from town”, because I did want people to see me in this state.
First when we came out of town I started to relax and began to enjoy the trip. But was I in for a surprise, because now the trip took a whole other direction going from the hallucinating trip to a mental trip. It is like you have an out of body experience where you look at yourself as a spectator. To me it is kind of a near-death-experience! But suddenly I went into a psychotic mental state-of-mind! I was fully aware of everything that was going on but I was afraid to communicate my thoughts to my friends. I was not even able to ask what time it is, because maybe they would ask me why do you want to know that! And I could definetly not communicate how I felt because then they would think that I am crazy, which in a way I was. In all this a fear grabbed my heart and I honestly thought that I would never come out of this ” box”!
So here I was on my way into a psychosis, a permament state of mind from which I could never come back. I dont know for how long this went on, but regardless of time this felt like an eternity. In my desperation there was only one thing that I could do. I already wrote about how I began thinking there is more to life than what we see and hear. So the only thing left for me was to quietly in my heart say a prayer and all I could say was ”Help!”. And it worked! It was like a big dark cloud lifted from me, the storm was over, the fear was gone and I felt such an undescribable relief that I to this day will never forget. And the strongest in this moment was the feeling of Love, love is the answer! And was I happy? Yes! And this was my worst trip and my best, but I said to myself ” Never again!” And this promise have I kept.
Change nr. 4!
So I was ready for a change! And I knew it had to come now! After this last trip I seriously started to plan for it. And this is where the girl come in to play a very important part in this transition to my new life. I can say that this is Change number 4! The funny thing about her is that she was not a part of our circle of hippies but was more together with the bikers or what you can call them. She was a few years younger than me, a pretty face, beautiful eyes, reddish hair and looked a little rebellious with a fun personality. We had meet and talked a little before this evening so it was not that we never had talked before.
One night at the local disco I approached her and asked if she had a minute. She looked kind of surprised and agreed to let me present to her my crazy idea! I told her straight on without wrapping it in and make it very clear. I still until this day dont know what she really thought of me and this strange hippie coming out of nowhere making a proposal/suggestion that was unheard off. Anyway this was what I proposed and wanted to do. I told her a little of my background especially with drugs and that I wanted to stop using it, but not only that. I also wanted to stop smoking, drinking and become a vegeterian! I guess she must have thought that it sounded crazy enough so she said yes! Why I had this idea is because if this was going to be possible it was necessary to have someone with me to make it. Since I love women it was the best alternative. Dont misunderstand me that I was just using her. No way! I really fell in love with her, she was wonderful. We still have contact until this day but just as friends. I give her credit to be one of the most important women in my life.
So we started our journey and the first step was to say Good Bye to my ”old” life! One evening we went to my friends house and it was here that I decided to smoke my last pipe of hasch and also my last ciggarete. It was special but I knew it was for real, all or nothing! A ceremony to mark a new beginning, where old things are past away and all things have become new. And Yes it worked, since that evening in the summer of 1971 I have never touched drugs or smoked a ciggarete! In a way my life is characterized by these kind of descions! 180 degree turns! So now it was ”we” and we wanted to make this work. It was not so hard, but I want to give a lot of credit to the relationship that we had. It was crucial to this change in my life. She was working at the commune and I had decided to go back to study in autumn to finish high school and maybe make something out of my life. But I was 4 years older than my class mates. I mature slowly, but on the other hand now I was motivated and liked to go to school and study. I must say that since then my hunger for knowledge in all shapes and forms has and is always intersting to me. Be it history, geography, culture, cuisine, psychology…..everything just about. Anyway school was intersting. And life was smiling at me. But say that happiness that lasts??
Before I go into this it is important to mention that my old friends did not leave me just because I quit drugs. No, they just waited for me to return and ”be myself” again. I had no problems arguing with them about Why I am finished with that life. They had a hard time believing this but I stood my ground. Mainly because of the relationship I had and also the focus on my studies. So in that way there was no problem or that I missed my old life, on the contrary. We were so busy in our new life with finding good vegetarian food, also find good tea and other natural foods! But all this was just about to crasch! Say that happiness that lasts and does not come to an end.
First another thing that happened this year, 1971. I got drafted because in thoose days militaryservice was obligatory for every male in Sweden. But during my hippie years I had developed a peace and love for all thinking. My idea was that Sweden is part of the global community and all men are equal. Regardless of colour, religion, etnicity, money etc. And how can I then justify doing military service and learn how to defend and think Sweden is better than thoose on the other side of the so-called man made border. Wars between countries was mainly fought to execute and promote the rich and wealthy. Anyway I had developed a firm thinking that I would never do military service for any country whatsoever. Again a black and white descion. I felt comfortable in this belief when I got drafted to the Karlskrona naval base. I arrived to the base in the early afternoon and got a bunk to sleep in for the night because the actual draft began in the morning the next day. I got up in the morning and did not really know where to go to adress my descion. Went to a counter and presented that I had the intention to refuse military service. It worked and they put me in a room to wait there. After some time I got called in to another room where a uniform was laying on a chair and there were some people in uniforms in the room. An officer approched me and asked if I stood by my decision and I said a firm Yes. The formality to confirm this was that he would repeat/ command me to put on the uniform and I would say No. This was repeated 3 times and after that I was a concentiuos objector. So in the eyes of the system/law I was a criminal! By the way the offered me voluntary service for the military which I also refused, because I did not want anything that even smelled military or violence! This happened also this year, 1971! The consequence of this was that I was summoned to the court as a criminal and sentenced to 1 month in prison. Will return later to my time in prison. So after the visit to be drafted and becoming a concentiuos objector. The strange thing in all of this is that most of my hippie friends were all in agreement to become concentiuos objectors and peace and love! But I think when it actually came down to it, it was only me and one other friend that actually did it.
I must do a reflection here thinking about the timid shy boy that did not say so much before the teenage years. I was surely a changed person with definite ideas and thoughts about life. Learning to stand up for my beliefs and also hold on to them, regardless of the consequenses! Quite some change! I still to this day wonder how my parents put up with me.
Back to the story about my girlfriend and me. So I had decided to start studying in the autumn and my girlfriend was continuing to work. I was living with my parents at the moment but we were looking for a flat so we could move together. She lived with her mother on the other side of town so there were a few kilometers to see each other. Anyway we saw each other nearly every day. The school went very well and I was motivated to study like I never had been before. I did not have any problems staying away from the past life. On the contrary it was like I had started breathing. I remember after a couple of months after quiting there was a sensation of smell! I smelled things that I had forgotten. Amazing! So this year passed. Much more to tell but lets jump into another eventful year to say the least! 1972!!
It began with that we got a flat close to the centre and 5 minutes from my school. 2 room flat on the 3rd floor with a balcony. Brand new, so we were the first tenants. We managed to get enough furnitures and kitchen ware. It was not much, but now we had a place to our own. Fantastic, but say that happiness that lasts? We had stayed there for a few weeks and we always meet in the evening and fixed something to eat. Afterwards we usually sat together in the livingroom and lit candles, drank herbal tea and of course listened to music. We shared what had happened during the day, I finished my home work from school. We went to bed quite early because she had to get up quite early to go to work. We did not have any tv to keep us up either. With this new life I was quite happy until one day when I came home and as usual I was waiting for her to come. Time went and soon it was dark. We did not have a phone or any other way of communication. If there was anything we wrote a note and left it on the table to let the other know what was happening. But this day no note, no message! Nothing! So I got worried but did not know what to do. My heart started to sink and a lot of thoughts came to mind. I went to bed and tried to sleep and lay there listening for the door to open. The morning came and her bed was still empty. My sleep was of and on during the whole night. I dont remember exactly what I did the next day but I remember when I came home in the afternoon and then suddenly she was there! Like nothing had happened. Like the last 24 hours did not happen. But for me they had happened and when she told what she had done my whole brave world free from drugs and starting on new chapter in my life was ripped to pieces and burned. I could hardly feel my legs. ( Even today when I write about it I can recall the feeling, it is like that with many things that have happened in my life, they dont go away sort of!)
So here came her story of what had happened. She told me that she had meet her old boyfriend yesterday afternoon and he told her that something sad had happened in his life. A close relative had died and he was feeling low. So far it was ok, but she decided to go home with him and decided to stay the night with him. This is where I crashed because this meant that she probably slept with him and they had sex. No matter what she said after that, I did not listen or I did not hear what she said. To me it was like a ton of bricks fell over me. My history with girlfriends was not exactly the best and now it happened again. My former girlfriends had brooken up with me because of other old or new boyfriends came in the way and Yes I was dumped! That was the love story of my life! So sad and traumatic and now it was happening again. Even though she reassured me that nothing like had happened the damage was already done and the pieces of my heart was laying all over the floor and nothing in the world could fix it and bring it back to what it used to be. It was like a trust I had that maybe was naiv but it was not on the map that this would happen. Add the worry that I had for over 24 hours not knowing what to think or expect!! I was to say the least already in a very weakened worried stage and than this blow straight in my guts came. Suddenly the pure became dirty, the innocent is guilty! I had put her on a piedistal but now it crashed.
The time after this my life was in a total chaos and I was even contemplating doing drugs again, because I felt that even this love to her was a failure and now I really felt that life has no meaning no purpose no goal. Just compromise and crawl into the hole of the system and do your thing without question or doubt! Just fall into the line of compromise of a meaningless, routine life.
We stayed together and I tried to forget what had happened. The wound was healing but the scar was there and this I could not take away. I tried to put the pieces back together, but there was always one piece missing and that was complete utter trust. It is strange but I can even today, 45 years later, recall/remember that feeling! It is like this in my life and I believe in most peoples life that we are more shaped and formed from traumatic, sad experiences than from ecstatic, euroforic experiences. I know from looking back at my life that it is the life crisis that have shaped me more than the so to say Happy moments in my life. Enough philosophy/psychologi for now, back to the story!
So my life was not as happy as it used to and this made me to think seriously and maybe a little too much. One day when I was standing on the balcony which was facing west and the sunset I felt strongly that something was wrong with my life and something was missing. I could not really put my finger on it but the feeling was of a strong emptiness. Even to the point where I was even thinking that my life was over and I wanted to end it. After what I just wrote this is how empty and frustrasted I was.
As I indicated before I had started to seek in different religions. I tried buddhism and meditation, but I could not find the peace that I was looking for so I had actually turned to christianity. And now I dont mean church, my hometown has enough of different churches competing for the souls and building better buildings. To me it was more like a business than rather having a true christian message based on what Jesus said and did. When I read the Bible I saw a different Christ far away from what I saw in the churches. After the dissappointment with my girlfriend and the hope, love and everything that I had put into her, I had kind of put my religious search on the shelf for the time being, but now I was starting to think about it again. Like a last resort. The last straw before I turned in!
At this time an old friend, Chris, was in town. He used to be very heavily into drugs and also injecting amphetamine and other shit. A junkie to say the least. Anyway I had heard that he had become christian and quit everything and he was now travelling around and sharing about his exprience and how it helped him to stop using drugs and even the desire to do so was gone. So I invited him to come and visit us and share about his experience!
This event/meeting is of such importance in my life so I will devote a whole chapter to describe what happened, because it still affects my life and how I live today. It is what takes me through the most difficult times in my life!
So we sat down in our living room which by the way was very spartan/simple furnished because we were poor and did not have any fancy couches or something. There were some cushions and a table made from planks or whatever with a cloth over it. There we sat with Chris, his friend, my girlfriend and I. We were drinking our famous herbal tea and making conversation. So I asked Chris what had happened to him and he slowly started to tell his testimony how he had received Jesus into his life. I argued and tried to find contrary questions in the beginning. He answered patiently and correctly, but he continued telling what he had experinced in very simple words. Soon I just sat there listening and felt like somebody was undressing me and all my doubts and objections and defense slowly vanished. I dont really remember what he said but it sure did something to me. What it did to me I can remember to this day. I felt so small and insignificant, all my defenses were down. I had no more strength to resist, the battle was lost and all I could do was to throw in the towel, raise the white flag and surrender! My girlfriend who had watched me during this whole process saw this happening to me. It was that obvious!
What I did next is still a mystery to me because such a desperate action was something I had never done before. I promptly stopped Chris and asked him if we could pray. I just felt that there was nothing left of me and all I could say was, Can we pray! So Chris explained to me that first to pray after him and then say a spontaneuos prayer saying what I had on my heart. I did as he said and after we had said the prayer asking Jesus into my life, I continued with my spontaneous prayer which was more like a intelligent conversation instead of a submissive prayer. Anyway I felt calm and much better after this but the heaviest most revolutionary was yet to come. The Lord was not finished with me yet.
We finished our so to say meeting and Chris and his friend went on their way. We made some agreement to meet in a few days. My girlfriend and I prepared to go to bed. We had to get up early next day, she worked and I went to school. When laying in bed I suddenly got a stronge urge to pray again, but what should I say/pray? There was a battle raging inside of me mainly because I did not know what intelligent words there was to say, because I was still a proud, self controlled person. Somehow I managed to let go of my intellect and just sat up in bed and started praying very simple and childish. Please Jesus take care of my parents and family (this is what comes to mind in desperate situations!) and I continued to ask for forgiveness. After that I dont remember so much.
The next morning when we woke up, my girlfriend said to me that alllll night I had just said Jesus Jesus…..the whole night! Strange, but this morning there was a new feeling or sensation in my life. I felt lighter and more at ease with myśelf. Difficult to explain or put it into words, but there definetly was a change. My girlfriend went off to work and I headed off to school. I felt so strange walking into class that my friend asked if everything was ok? Yes it is perfect I answered but I did not at that moment say what it was. But it was not many days that passed and I had to let it out, the change that had happened to me.
As I finished in my last chapter about not having said anything in school, this was about to change radically. When I brooke the ice and out of the blue said, I am saved, I believe in Jesus now, I am a christian! It was received with many mixed comments and arguments. What church? No church I answered. It will soon go over! I dont think so was my answer. How can you be so stupid? My answer Who is stupid/what is stupid? I started to go on the offensive instead of just defending myself, asking questions back! Do you have something better to offer? What are the alternatives? Just because the churches are like they are, it does not change the message of Jesus, if you clear away all the rubble/shit the churches have clothed him in. Jesus teachings are so far away from that we see in the churches today that there is very little left of the original!! I tell you that I was no pushover when they tried to belittle me or make me look like a fool. It is like Jesus said that by professing themselfes to be wise they made fools out of themselfes! I had something to stand up for and I felt convinced and sure in this new life. There was no doubt that my life had changed and I also felt for the first time in my life that this was for real. It worked, because it was not depended on any person or what I had experienced before.
Anyway it caused quite a riot with my former friends because now they thought that I really had gone over the bend and most of them avoided me like the plague. Because whenever I meet them I witnessed to them and let them know about my new found faith. But I had some friends that were interested and wanted to know more. There were especially one very close friend that I was focusing on. One evening I went to the place where he lived. He was there with some other friends drinking. I dont think they were taking any drugs, but were quite drunk. I witnessed to him how great it was and that he really needed Jesus. After a long and intense discussion he agreed to pray with me. There was an instant sobering up and after the prayer he was totally clear. This was the beginning of a faith that we have shared since then.
At the same time in school and in my class most of my time was spent talking about my new found faith. Many were curious and wanted to know more. Remember that I dropped out of school many years ago, so I was a few years older than eveybody. I was an interesting person, not because of me, but here I came back to school after have seen the world and been a sailor and all! Most of them had only gone to school and did not know anything else! So now with this change it became the talk of the school.
The work, the essay, in swedish that I mentioned before was ment to be presented to our classes leaving it open for questions and discussions, since it was a philosophical project. The day came and we were to sit outside since it was a beautiful warm spring day. So we started but I soon had to stop and started to explain that everything that was written in these pages were part of my past life and something that belonged to my search for a meaning in life. This I had found now and I was no longer that person. Old things are passed away and all things have become new. After I was finished there were not many dry eyes. The strange thing many times, most of the time actually, the words came like a flow, I felt more like a channel that just opened my mouth and it just happened! Such a strange experience. So this was part of my final exam in swedish as well. The teacher was enthusiatisc and loved the presentation and my passionate speech about the change in my life!
I finished this year with good grades and was really an AAA student, which I had never been before. It was only that now something else had caught my attention and what do I do then? It is 100% with this new thing, no going back. After the school year was finished I again went to the headmaster and said that I am quitting and starting a new life. It was useless arguing with me when I have decided something. My poor parents as well did not know what to say or think!
What has been written in the last chapters you can call a change! So this is change number 5 in my life. If this was 5 what happened to number 4? This 4th change was when I stopped smoking, drinking and became a vegeterian. To be qualified as a change in my definition it has to be at least a 180 degree turn, going from black to white or vice versa. A change has to both cost something and give something, but it is definetly not something that comes for free. This is probably why most people are set in their ways and monotously go on without really paying attention to what they do and in this way just let life pass them by. Write a lot about this under the title ”Personal reflections”, as well in the story about Pilar, how in a way I made this change happen.
I must say that becoming religious was never in the book, on my agenda. Having grown up in a non-religious home where you only went to church for baptism, marriage and funerals. Well there was one other thing and that was confirmation, which when I think about it today is a very strange ritual/tradition. I did this and most children that do it say that it is because of the presents/gifts. It is such a big thing with relatives and everything. Super strange custom/ritual/tradition. Never made my own children do it. Anyway this was how close I got to religion and christianity before this change that had just happened and wrote about in the previous chapters.
I remember during my early hippie days that one friend suddenly turned christian, jehovas witness. When I meet him I was so mad at him for being so stupid to believe in God! It was a strong meeting but he was very calm I remember and not at all bothered by my attacks. There was not an inch of religion in me or my life at that time. Later on in my hippie years when I meet some girls that were out evangelising, from the local pentecostal church, in the park downtown, I was more kind to them but that was because they were girls and I was trying to convince them about what I thought. Hoping they would leave their beliefs and maybe become my girlfriend instead because they were both pretty and sweet! So this is how religious I was.
What maybe was that changed me was when I realised that I have to grow up and become something/someone. I definetly did not want to become like my parents, which to me was the most boring life I could imagine. Of course I have later learned that they have had an exciting life, going through the 2nd WW and living quite poor and having to fight and work hard for every penny(öre). My mother being home and only my father working. Yes I have learned very much to appreciate, admire, respect and love them for what they have done and the life they had. It was far from boring! Anyway at that time they were so far away from my vision about life as far as the east is from the west. So in this search I did some crazy descions as you have read, but slowly, very slowly my mind started to open up for the spiritual. That maybe there is something else to life outside of that we can see, touch and smell. Of course the music and lyrics played a very big part in this, because to me the lyrics has always been that which was important to me. And the artists that before had sung about life in general started to become deeper and raise questions about life, love, meaning etc in life! In short the big question was Why Do We Live?
I have had some odd experinces which further confirmed my search. One time just before Christmas I was walking along the main street in my hometown, the street was lit up with lights and the shops were loaded with gifts to give at christmas. In all of this I suddenly had kind of revelation/epiphany and burst out: Jesus How Misunderstood You Have Been! Just like that, because so much I had understood that Jesus was not anything what the church portayed or a commercial figure that wants you to buy presents and spend endless amounts on christmas gifts! And suddenly it was like I was on a trip again, even though it was over a year since the last time I had taken one. It was such a strange feeling but a good feeling. My reaction when I said this was totally out of the blue/spontaneous. The crazy thing is that I said it out loud. I was alone because it was late at night so there was no one to hear my outburst. I remember this very clearly to this day, because it was one of thoose experiences that shoved me more in the direction of becoming a believer.
I can mention more strange things that happened to me that to this day I have no logical explanation and maybe I will write about it in another chapter. But now in my next chapter I will continue my religious journey!
I wrote before that I quit school and I did this because my mind was set on something else. A bible school!
I wrote in the previous chapters about how I got saved and what happened in school and also about my friends reactions.
Parallell with this I started wondering if there possibly was a church that I could go to and if so which one of ALL the churches in small Ljungby? After some contemplation, thinking, research I decided that the choice came to the local pentecostal church. This church is/was possibly/supposedly the most radical. What now radical means and what you can expect. Anyway one evening without any prior notice or telling anyone that I would come, I stepped in the front door to everybodies great surprise. Surprise is just the surname because it was like a bomb dropped in their lap(literally) and now what are they going to do with it? Here was this long haired hippie still dressed in my odd clothes walking in to their neat, nice, quiet, cozy church. Of course I was welcome but they just did not know how to welcome me, dropping in like that without telling them I was coming. This is not what they were used to and probably had never happened in this church history.
So here I was and what now? To make a long story short, soon my girlfriend, her friend and my friend were deeply involved in all the church activities you can imagine. Every sunday we were always asked to witness about our conversion (actually there was no credit to the church being involved in our salvation!) and what we had done during the week. Of course it raised some eye brows among the conservative in the church because we were not baptised yet. Not that I felt that I needed it or that it would make such a difference, but to make the congregation happy we all agreed to comply and get baptised. It was a big event and when were baptised it packed the church to the last place. Surprisingly many or a lot of our old friends came to watch our baptism. We were dipped in pool that they have concealed in the floor right in the centre of the church. That was it!
Now we were full worthy members of the pentecostal church. We participated in nearly everything and also travelled around to other churches in south of sweden. It was kind of interesting but after a while it started to strike me and it was quite obvious. We were mainly preaching to the already saved and what use is that?
Shortly after our baptism it was time for me to do my jail time for refusing to do military service. I did this in an open prison facility about 40km outside of town. Of course this was quite an experience to have a very rigid schedule and at night they count everybody in before they lock the doors. In the daytime I did some carpentry work which I cant remember and you got some money for this and there was a small kiosk where they sold candies, ciggarettes and some newspapers etc. It did not take long before everybody knew I was a christian and was telling everybody about my change. One saturday part of the congregation with the pastor came to visit and performed with songs and testimony and of course I was standing right there with them with my fellow inmates watching! Quite something. It was an experience and not that negative and why I did not have to serve a second time I will write about later. Anyway the biggest chock was still to come when I got released.
During the whole time that I was in prison my girlfriend never came to visit. I did not pay too much attention to it because it was not so easy to find transport. So when coming home I was looking forward very much meeting her, but NO! When I came home to our flat she was not there and I waited for her to come home. When she did it was not at all what I could expect. She came home with her friend and totally blasted anything about our salvation and conversion.
She said that she did not want anything to do with Jesus or me anymore. She was going to move to another city and even said that she had started smoking again and also smoking pot. No wonder she did not come and visit me in prison. She was busy starting a ”new” life going back to the old. This was a big slap in my face but maybe a neccesary one. Because if we had continued our relationship my life would have been very different. So was it bad? In retrospect it was a good thing, like so many other ”bad” things that have happened in my life.
It put my faith at test but there was no going back and this is what my faith have ment to me and is still the strenght in my life regardless. Have not found anything that can change this.
So back to where I quit school and now after my girlfriend was gone it was time for another page in my life. Bible school! Before I forget there is one more thing worth mentioning because after my girlfriend was gone and we got rid of our flat I moved together with my friend in a small flat in the centre of town. After some time it became like a Jesus centre, a commune where we meet and when there was someone that did not have a place to sleep they were welcome to sleep there. In short we were practising our religion not only preaching it. Slowly we came off course with the church that was about to come to a head but a little further into the story of my julife!
The rest of the summer of 1972 kept me busy in the church and also a lot of visiting other churches and even some big get togethers with other christians. In Sweden there was a big revival wave of people getting saved or involved in other religions, especially buddhism, hare krishna and of course the Jesus movement! This was not only in Sweden but all over the western world. A lot came from the states like so many other things. What was new and different in the christian wave it was a revolution and it was such a radical brake from the established system and most of all a break with the traditional churches. These people or movement were called or given the name Jesus people.
The Jesus people did not belong to any special church or denomination, but came from the hippiemovement and like me joined or went to a congregation where they felt welcome. So these big Jesus festivals that happened here and there was not organised by any particular denomination. In a way the Jesus people brought christianity back to its roots and how simple it was in the beginning. The churches had in a way put on Jesus so many clothes of traditions, ceremonies, dogmas etc, 1000 interpertations of the gospel that Jesus original words were hidden underneath all these ”fancy clothes” of disguise and right out lies. It took me a long time to discover the original Jesus and what a revolutionary he was/is! Today (2017) I keep this picture alive and are not connected to any church/denomination and I dont feel the need for it either. I find individual believers from all kind of churches that I can agree with. They are humble, honest, sincere in their beliefs which is for me the most important ingridient in any religion.
The summer went on and in all of these I got to hear about a small non denominational bible school outside of a small city in the south west coast of Sweden, the city of Höganäs. This became the school where I and 3 of my friends enrolled in for intense bible studies the autumn of 1972. We lived there during the weeks and went home for weekends. I dont remember how we financed it but I think it was for free and the school was totally depended on donations.
I have a real funny story from when we were there. We travelled every weekend to my hometown and on sundays back to school. We had an old Ford Anglia that was only kept together by prayer, but one time this was not enough when we one sunday started our trip back to the school. We managed to have enough money for gasoline and 3 longhaired Jesus hippies started their trip back to bible school in this very old tiny dark blue ford anglia. We came a few kilometers outside of town and the car started vibrating. We stopped, prayed and started again but as soon as we got up to 70km/hour the vibrastions started again. I decided that we can call my father that is a proffesional car mechanic for advice. To do this we had to stop at a local farmer since we had already gotten a few km outside of town. I described the problem and my father decided to drive to us and see what was the problem. We waited and after one hour he came and in 5 minutes the problem was solved!!! The problem was that my friend, the owner of the car, had forgotten to tighten the bults on one of the wheels/tires which resulted that when the car got over 40km/hour it started to rattle and shake. So imagine these 3 desperate longhaired Jesus hippies not knowing what to do and here comes my father along and solves the problem in 5 minutes. In defence I can say that he was the answer to our prayers, but the doubters and nonbelievers will not agree. The only reason I tell this is that I think it is a funny story and a credit to my dear father that I owe so much to. The deeper and the more I get into telling my story the more obvious and clearer it becomes how much they have meant to me and I must say still means to me. I will always be in debt to them and I am so thankful that I was able to give back some in the last years of their life. They will come back many times as the story of my life continues.
So here I was now in Bible school digging deep into its teachings, prophecies, history and more. Basically I devoted the next 18 years of my life to this Book 110%! It is not like I dont believe today (2017) when I write this, but I dont put so much time/effort into it. This Bible school was a first. It was a small school and I dont think we were more than 10 students at a time. It was for 3 months and it was owned and run by this couple that got a calling to kind of make their home into a Bible school. They added some buildings for dormatories and a room for teaching. The teachers that came there was from different denominations but mostly pentecostals. In a way the teaching of the Bible did not have focus on any particular denomination but the focus was the Word and what it said.
This chapter is difficult to write because I really dont know where to begin. After the Bible school I was really pumped up with evangelistic energy, spreading the gospel and do what Jesus said. Bring the gospel to the people. So what did this do to me when I returned to my church/congregation? It was like fire meeting water! This meant, take it easy Torbjörn dont be so fired up, things will be solved/explained! So they tried to put out my fire and this bothered/irritated me very much! Why??? Because I had the feeling of urgency that this message needed to get out and not preached to thoose already saved. This caused a conflict in my life because I slowly saw myself sucked into the religious system, full of rituals, traditions etc. To me this had nothing to do with what Jesus said in the gospels.
One day in the autumn of 1972 my best friend went to Copenhagen and visited Christiania, because he had heard that there was a group of radical christians that had taken over one building in the heart/center of Christania. They lived very simple and lived to preach the gospel fulltime, just like Jesus said. Anyway my friend came back all fired up and said this is IT! These people really live the Bible and does what Jesus told his disciples to do. Forsake All (luke9:33) and preach the gospel to every creature (mark 16:15).
A parenthesis about Christiania, what it was and in a way still is today. It is an old naval base close to the centre of Copenhagen. I dont really know when it got abanoned, but in the late 60’s it got squatted by the hippie movement and have been since then. It is kind of like a free sanctuary with its own council and rules. The big issue is that it was and even today is a centre for drug trade. I visited it in my drug days and on the main street, symbolically called Pusher Street, you could just about buy any drug you wished for. This was done quite openly with the police and authorities knowing what was happening!
So back to my story and my visit to Christiania as a Christian! I decided to go and visit this group and see for myself if my friend story was correct. It was a cold late november day when I set off for my journey to Copenhagen, Christiania and my first meeting with the Children of God! Little did I know that it was with this group I was going to spend the next 17years! It was early evening when I arrived to Copenhagen. Windy, cold and dark when I set off to find the Children of God and the house they lived in att Christiania. I went in through the famous main entrance where I walked before but in completely different errands.
I walked down Pusher street and made my inquiri as to where I could find this mysterious group. Just go straight on and ask for the house called The Prophet! It was not hard to find, since it was/is one of the bigger houses or more like the looks of a big barn. The door was open and I went in and was immedietly met by a man. He asked me what I was looking for and I explained that my friend had been here a week ago. He asked me if I was saved and I answered Yes! Are you sure he continued and I said the 2nd time , Yes I am saved! He did not continue he just asked if I were hungry to which I also responded Yes. So they gave me something to eat, a warm stew with everything in it, meat, vegetables, potatis! You name it and it was there. Tasted delicous and warmed this cold, dark, windy, humid november night. Now we get to the next problem! Where are you staying? they asked! My answer was I dont know! You are welcome to stay here for the night if you like to? Well Thank You! No problem. I had at least brought my own sleeping bag. This was obligatory to bring as soon as you travelled in thoose days.
What happened next is what helped me to make the choice/descion that this was where I wanted to stay. Before going to sleep I was invited to a Bible study together with the rest of the group. We were about 20-30 people sitting together and they decided to read a chapter from the gospel of John. The way we read was that we all took turns reading 2 verses each. So when it came to my turn I had no english Bible so I borrowed from the person next to me and read my 2 verses. That was it, but it was so powerful because there was no sermon, no explanation! Just the Word! After that it was Good Night. It was not a luxurios bed, but roll out my sleepingbag on a carpet and thats it.
I dont remember so much more but the next day I returned home convinced that this is where I belong. These people lived the gospel like Jesus said, forsaking all and preaching the gospel to thoose that did not know the gospel! All this happened without a church building, or a lot of fancy trinkets! This was the simplicity I had been looking for. The fire that I had felt when I first got saved. I came back home with so much fire that people wondered what had happened!! I said that I have found some people that LIVE the Gospel! Not just talk about it.
In the next chapters I will not nesseraily focus so much on the chronological years like I have done so far, instead I will divide the years with the Children of God/ The Family into more where I have been/lived, the cultures, people, history, cooking, languages etc that I have learned. How I meet the mother to my children, where and how my beautiful children were born. There will also be one chapter (maybe more) about the child that was kidnapped. And of course why we decided to finally leave the sect! And what it means to leave a sect with 4 Children and 40 years old with the only reference that you had been in a sect, a religious fanatic for nearly 20 years!
So I came back to my hometown with this new found inspiration in my life. To me it was the most natural thing, because the meeting with the CoG was the closest I had found to what especially Jesus himself lived/taught/expressed when he walked here on earth! To my surprise it was received with very mixed feelings from my surroundings, friends in our community, the church and of course my family. The pastor in the church got angry and was trying to convince me what a false cult/sect the CoG was. I had my arguments against his, especially how I felt that the church of today is very far away from the words of Jesus and the simplicity of the gospel. How comfortable, lethargic, complacent and straight out lazy the church had become. The only result I got from pastor David is that I made him even madder! He had very little as to answer against my arguments and this convinced me even more that I was making the right choice. The choice was to join the group.
Before I left Copenhagen and Christiania, I invited them to come and visit me/us in Ljungby. They accepted this invitation and after a few weeks they showed up. It was just after Christmas 1972 when Ethan, Kezia and swedish Peter came to see me/us. They were invited by me to stay in my friends little flat on the fourth floor. Ethan and Kezia came originally from Canada and they had a small child with them as well. So it was really cramped in the apartment but at least it was warm. During the time when they stayed here my friend went to stay with his mother because he had decided not to join or have anything to do with the CoG, even though he was the one who first meet the CoG and was very inspired after that meeting. It was a strange time these few days before I came to my final descion.
Even though they were here in Ljungby in the middle of the winter they still went out on the street every day with guitar and the newspaper that they were distributing at the time, The New Improved Truth. A very colour full magazine with many articles mainly about the Bible, prophecies, teachings of Jesus etc. I remember especially one article that was what this Cherokee Chief had said about the white man coming to america and was violating the laws of nature and thereby create an imbalance that only could lead to destruction. This was written several 100 years ago and is more than ever being fulfilled today. So here we walked down the streets of Ljungby singing the songs of CoG. The most famous was ”You gotta be a baby to go to heaven”, this title came from Jesus own words, ”except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
So here I was again doing a very odd thing and this was just the beginning, because we did not just stay on the street singing we also went into the local pub/pizzeria Maxim and started to witness to my old friends. This Peter from Stockholm was not shy about anything but boldly proclaimed the gospel and asked what they were thinking. This was a little odd even for me going in to the actual pub, only pub in Ljungby, and telling people about Jesus. Many of my old friends were there and I can just imagine what they were thinking. I honestly think that Ljungby had not seen, meet and known a more crazy christian. Going from bad to worse.
What happened the following days was how I learned to provision food ( actually begging). This meant that you went into the supermarkets, bakery etc, whatever we needed. We presented ourselfes as christian social workers that lived fulltime preaching the gospel and especially to the socially outcasts. So we did not have a salary but had devoted our whole life to this calling. It was more or less like this we presented ourselfes and this is how we got food, clothes, houses, cars, apartments etc, without paying a penny. So this is what we did here in my hometown also. Peter Stockholm (dont forget this was his bible name) and I went together to the shops where I used to buy my groceries and pay for it. Now we went there and came out with more than I used to pay for. And then off to the bakery and the same thing there. Crazy? Well Yes, but it worked! And I must confess that after a while I also learned and became quite good at being a provisioner, a professionell begger.
Change number 6!
After they had been here a few days I finally decided that it was time for a descion. To join or not to join? For me the descion was crystal clear, I was going to join! One evening I asked to talk to Ethan and Kezia to let them know what I wanted to do, I wanted to join the CoG! So they told me very clearly, black on white what it meant to join and what it meant to forsake all! (Luke 9:23) ”And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me!” And Luke 14:33, ”So likewise whosoever be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath he cannot be my disciple!” My new life had begun. Definetly change number 6! began with literally going through all my belongings, earthly possesions, whatever. So we went home to my parents to see what was left there of any value and what I might need for my new life in the CoG. I did not have much, but the saddest (thinking now, today) was saying goodbye to my mother ( my father was at work) and telling her that from now on my name is O.S.( my bible name, dont want to write it full out, have my reasons)and not Torbjörn. I also told her that I dont know when I will come back if ever! Imagine what a goodbye and that was it, she gave me some money and I took some sheets and what clothes that could be useful and went out and now my new life began with the CoG. Another blow to my poor parents that had hoped I would have choosen a different path in life, a life that ” normal” people usually choose. But not me, now 22 years old I again choose a different way even more radical than the ones before! I did not make life easy for them.
In the CoG I was considered a babe in training and the training was rigorous especially memorising the Bible. They had basic scriptures that you needed to know before you could be called a disciple. I knew a lot of Bible but this was entirely new for me. And then it was prophecy classes book of Daniel, Revelation, the minor prophets and more.
Anyway we could not stay in my friends apartment any more, so where to go? I had an idea of a place a few km outside of town that my grandfather used to own. It was actually a big estate with several buildings. We packed ourselfes into this small Ford Anglia that barely started and went off to ask if there was any room for us for a few days. The people that lived there was quite surprised to say the least. But they said yes and we could stay in an abandoned house for a few days. Remember it was in the middle of winter with lots of snow. There was no heating, water or toilet. The only heating was an iron wood stove which we fired up at night so the room was like a sauna, but in the morning when we woke up the temperature was below zero. It was not so easy to get out from the warm sleepingbag, but the discipline was tough and there was no choice but to get up. No time to feel if it was cold or hot but just do it! In a way I liked this disciplin because it gave me the training I needed to endure the days ahead. We stayed here for a few days and went into the closest town, Växjö, everyday to witness and make provisions for food. The funny thing in all of this was the car, that was not only old but very rundown. We had to push it more than one time in order to get it started. It was a joke to see these 4 grown ups and a baby in this car. This was my first days in the CoG, and many more crazy things happened during the next 20 years and as I said before I will try to remember some of the extra ordinary things.
We stayed here for a few days before a phonecall rescued us. We were going to Lund in small attic apartment. One room with a small kitchen and only a small toilett. When we needed a shower we pretented we were students and sneeked in to one of the students associations and got acess to their facilities! Lund is one of the biggest university towns in Sweden so there are plenty of student associations. We walked in and pretended we belonged there and did our thing. Of course we rotated between these student clubs/associations so we did not wear out our welcome or asked if we were members and if so what did we study or do you have a members card? Anyway I learned a lot how to get away with things during my years in the CoG! Or maybe say ”Learn to do things in a different way!” There are always more ways/solutions to a problem than one I have learned!
So now my life in CoG had begun! Little did I realize the many things I was about to go through and that it would last nearly 18 years of my life before it ended. From the beginning of 1973 until the end of 1990! This is why I will not get Into the details of every year and write chronoligically. I will start with the places, countries I lived in and all the places I visited, When I write about the places I will give a brief summary of these countries and how I experienced them as well as some important lessons learned.
One chapter I will try to capture some of the ideology of the CoG and the changes ”revolutions” the group went through under the leadership of Moses David as well how the CoG was organised. What was my function in the organisation and responsibilities.
The third part is of course how I got a real family not just ”The Family of CoG”. How I meet the mother of my children and where, when and also how my beautiful children were born. The most fantastic moments in my life which was also the reason we left and could not continue with the CoG. One sensitive chapter I will try to tell about our first son that got kidnapped only 2 days old. Actually this will probably take more than one chapter. The feeling I get now when writing this tells me that it will take more than one chapter! Everytime I think about this is like opening a box of emotions that just pours out like a water fall or a fountain!
As I wrote my geographical journey in the sect started in my hometown and went on to a place outside my hometown. This was at the end of 1972, beginning 1973. After this I lived in several places in Sweden. Lund, Skillingsfors (a small village outside of Arvika in Värmland). This place was called a babes ranch where you learned about the Bible and memorized 100s of verses and entire chapters. It was what you can call the primary school, grade school, high school and in some ways the university of the CoG all baked into one!
During the time in Skillingsfors I/we made several so called faith trips to many different places in the area and also to places in Norway because it was close to this ”camp”! Just to give you an idea of what/how these faith trips were organised/happened! We had classes allllll week about the Bible, believe, trust etc ! So on friday it was time for practise! So the van went off always with random destinations! Left us off with NO cash in the pocket a good bye ”SEE YOU ON SUNDAY,,,”! In some ways l learned one important lesson and that is that somehow things work out and most of the time even for good! And when it did not work it still worked out! Why I say this is that I am still here and are doing ok!
Time passed and after Skillingsfors it went of to Stockholm where the CoG more or less occupied an apartment in an abandoned house in the center of Stockholm, I believe the address was Brunnsgatan something but in the centre of Stockholm. It was here that I had my first crisis in the CoG and actually left for a maybe 2 days or less. Anyway it was a strange experience for many reasons. I hitchhiked back to my hometown and surprised my sister when I showed up. Went to meet some old friends from the pentecostal church and I think it was there that I realised what a mistake that I had done. I ”repented” and decided to return to Stockholm and the CoG. My sister was chocked and she did not understand that I did not even have time to see my parents that were at the summer cottage just 18km outside of town. It was another one of thoose crazy descions in my life and definetly is not one that I am proud of. So suddenly I am on my way back to Stockholm. It took me very few rides (of course hitchhiking) to get back to Stockholm because when I left it was not that easy to get rides, but that is another story.
When I returned to Stockholm and knocked at the door of the apartment where the CoG was it was a strange experience. I left as a prime disciple (this is what you were called like the Jesus disciples) and came back like a Judas! They were happy to see me of course but I was looked upon as a backslider that came back so in a way I had to be punished in some way which I dont really can remember or recall today. Anyway after Stockholm I went to Gävle, north of Stockholm where I was for a few months. From Gävle we made road/faith trips to north of Sweden. I remember going as far as Kiruna in the far north of Sweden and it was summer which meant daylight 24 hours, midnight sun. This must have been during 1974.
After Gävle I believe that I went back to Skillingsfors to try out to be a translater and translate our religious pamphlets from english to swedish. I did this for some time until I got recruited to a special branch of the organisation called Mo-ed. It was 2 guys with their wifes and children that worked on summerarising/simplify all the letters that Moses David had written. They also made some illustrations to make them look more attractive. Anyway my job was to take care of their kids and home school them. The CoG used the Montessori method/ideologi/teachings as a way to homeschool their children. This started from a very early age as the method suggest.
I need to take a break from my timeline and chronoligical writing in order to keep both mine (mainly) and maybe you who are reading this in some perspective. What I mean is that as a writer I have the writers priviledge to make some sidetracks to the story whenever it suits me.
Anyway today I am 66 years 8months old and I am soon 67! This means that I get ”fired” from my ordinary work and can no longer call myself employed. I can still work extra or do some hours here and there, but I am no longer on a fixed schedule like I am now. This is going to be an odd feeling and adjustment. Going in or entering a whole new phase in life. In some ways feeling left out like a vacuum, empty and a little lost. Being a child again in a way, learn to live with a whole new set of rules. In a way if you read my story and my reflections and of the story of Pilar, you can see that I am no stranger to change.
This change is a little different because it feels so final beacause in a way the work, the schedule, the people I work with and the clients etc. They become strangers and soon a year has passed and the distance has become far far away in the way of how intense it was and now just is something temporary if even that. It is so strange how we go on in life and the changes ”just” happen.
So Change! It has been a few months since I wrote the above and it is now november 17 2018. I am sitting in a camper (RW) overlooking the sea that are just a few meters away. So a lot has happened since the last entry. I sold my apartment because of circumstanses that was out of my reach/control. Will get to that in a moment. I have quit my job, turned 67! I also have enrolled myself to become a time hourly employee. Beeing on call whenever there is a need.
But now I continue my biographical story. More breaks like this will come.
So I was with these guys for quite some time and it was with them I moved to Italy 1975 in the autumn. We arrived to Pescara which is on the adriatic cost about the same latitude like Rome but on the other side. It was quite a chock for me to come here. First of all the weather was quite a bit warmer than the house outside of Arvika and second the italian life style. When you went for a walk on a sunday afternoon you thougt everybody was part of a fashion show. In Sweden we dont pay so much attention how we dress but the italians…No way! They dressed quite nice.
Another memory was that it here I got introduced to the italian language and fell in love with it. When going to the shop to buy matches, the owner did not let me go until I learned the word in italian and it was not the easiest word ”fiammiferi”. I went from the store with a perfect pronounciation. So after that I was like a sponge and learned italian everywhere I went. When on the train, in the shops, on the street…and this way I learned to speak italian but not so good to write or even read it. There is quite a difference between the spoken and written italian.
After only a few weeks in Pescara we moved up north to the coast of Liguria. A beautiful place called Zoagli and this became the home for many years and I made quite a bit of italian friends here and my italian grew quickly. Even though we lived in kind of what was called a Selah situation where nobody knew who we really were and also the rest of the CoG did not know where we were. This was because Apollos and Samson were working on publications for the group. So here I was the teacher to their kids and also cooking, cleaning and had a lot of freetime which I spent with a man that had a small restaurant right on the beachfront. He was a genuine italian that only spoke italian so I learned a lot from him. I had time to help him serve and do things to help out and so I meet a lot of people. The skills I learned when going to the restaurant school in Malmö has been a great help both here and later on in my life.
Zoagli lies a few miles south of Genova and very close to the famous Portofino. I could actually see it from my bedroom window. The house we lived in was a white villa that belonged to a duke that had become friends with the CoG. He also had a wine farm outside of Firenze and in Certaldo. Anyway this house was situated right on the sea with an upper garden and a lower garden which was right on the sea. There were figtrees, grapes and other fruittrees. The climate here is one of the best in Italy.
Liguria is protected by the mountains from the norhtwinds and therefore the temperature is quite pleasant in the winter. Often the warm winds from Africa could be felt as it was just open see between Liguria and Africa. I can remember in the winter being 15-20 degrees.
At this place I learned a lot about Italy and its customs. I loved it and have since then a deep love for Italy and what it stands for. I learned the language, not the written italian but the spoken italian.