Translation of an interview with Katrina Johannesen.
Originally published by "Kvinna" in October 2009, Copyright Kvinna 2009.
Reproduced with permission from "Kvinna" in 2010.
Blue book:• Katrina Johannesen, born in 1969
• Born and raised on Mykines
• Bachelor education in applied economics from the university of East London
• Runs hotel and restaurant Kristianshús on Mykines
• Works as a teacher in winter
• Lives with Esbern í Eyðansstovu who is king pawn and takes care of the power station
• They have two children, Ronja 8 years old and Hans Meinhard 12 years old
Katrina Johannesen: The island has attracted me All my life
From Mykines to London via Sørvág and Hoydalar. And then to go directly upstream the rush from village to town. Graduating in applied economics from the University of East London, Katrina went back to Mykines, where she has lived since. Now with husband and two children.
Mykines called and I had to go back. I had without no doubt been able to live in many other places, but it had only been the second best. This is where I have my roots and this is where I belong, says Katrina Johannesen when Kvinna visited her to have a talk about women's life on a small Faroese island.
Childhood at that timeKatrina comes from Stallhúsið on Mykines. She is the second of twins, the youngest siblings in a flock of 3 boys and 3 girls, so there was always someone to play with. Our upbringing was probably in many ways as other children on the Faroe Islands at the time. We played ball, played "Give sound", skipped, jumped in the band, played jacks ball, played with dolls and biked, says Katrina. Frequently Sunneva, my sister, and I round up the cows to the outfield in the morning and once in a while we would also round them back in the evening. But otherwise I do not think, that our upbringing was so different from others, says Katrina.
- We were always looking forward to summer, because then there came a lot of children to Mykines to visit their grandparents, but I do not recall that I felt lonely, says Katrina, as I in the twin sister Sunneva always had a playmate.
In the seventies and eighties Katrina's childhood home, was the only family with children on Mykines, in the same manner as Katrina's family is today. Katrina's parents carry on living on Mykines, but the other 5 siblings have moved. To Sørvág, to Tórshavn and Denmark.
The life on the mainlandAt 14 years old Katrina had to move to Sørvág to go in 8th class. For the first time then she experienced to attend school with children other than her siblings. - I remember the first time in the schoolyard between so many children as a bit easy. But I quickly found myself in the new environment, also because Sunneva was together with me. So I was not quite alone, recounts Katrina.
After 10th Class Katrina's curiosity was not satisfied. The twin sisters parted their ways, because Sunneva went as an apprentice hairdresser, Katrina as the first in their family attended high school in HoydÃ¸lum. This time, remembers Katrina as 3 peaceful years. She thrived with the school work, but otherwise the city in large did not tempt and therefore she was almost every weekend on Mykines.
The life in LondonWhen the young woman from Mykines had the student cap on her head, she was seriously longing for foreign places. And the destination was England, where she was an au-pair with a family who lived near Manchester. Katrina has always been fascinated by England, where she also lived in 3 laps. The first time was as an au-pair. The second time she was in language school in London and then she studied applied economics at the University of East London in 3 years, and enjoyed the city life to the full. It was a wonderful time. And I have since visited again several times. Had I been forced to move from Mykines, I better imagine settling me in London than Tórshavn, says Katrina.
How can a single person thrives equally well in the metropolis and on the remote island? Life in the big city was so definately far from what I had been used to. The people were so friendly and accommodating. They were more open than we are in the Faroe Islands. But despite that, I often had the feeling of never really learning to know them. That feeling I nearly never have, when I talk to Faroese, says Katrina, who also was quite happy with that people are not gossiping as much as we often do here. And yet she moved back home to a village with 10 inhabitants. Yes, one thing is to be abroad for a measured time, something else is home. Which for Katrina is a small village on the westernmost of the Faroe Islands.
Life as a DirectorKatrina is hotel manager. She runs Kristianshús which is the only restaurant on the island and the hotel with 30 beds. Usually in summer there is fully occupied in Kristianshús, because then people flock from around the world to Mykines.
The whole summer, Katrina has enough to do. And this she is comfortable with. For she feels no good by simply sitting on her hands. Every year she has two young people from the Nordjobb scheme and this year she also had a young girl to wash and arrange the rooms.
- I am full of good ideas. And currently we are working on a project to build a museum for works of S. J-Mikines, and a new hotel. We are waiting for building permission from Sørvág municipality, then we go. I expect that it can run round and I can only tell if it can, by trying, says an excited Katrina.
Life in winterThere live only 10 to 12 people on Mykines all year, says Katrina and think very closely, as she counts. For it is not so good, if any of the residents would feel left out.
Actually it was the idea of a life with so few people, which woke the curiosity of "Kvinna". For how to pass the long dark months on such a small and isolated place with so few people? - Yes, the winter darkness is very dark, but the days go quietly. And the course of the sun over the sky and the southwest sunsets are fantastic. I try to be out in the daylight as much as possible. I like the walks in the outfield. I am with the kids and my husband. When the weather is for it, we toboggans. And then I bought myself an exercise machine to train the muscles.
Are there any mixing with the other inhabitants in the winter, when there is only light in 5 houses and all the other stands gaping empty and dark? - When the helicopter or Súlan come, we usually get together at the heliport or at the landing place. Here we small talk and hear news.
Otherwise we stick mostly to ourselves.
3 to 4 times a year, the family is traveling. Usually to any of the siblings in Sørvág or in Tórshavn. They go to the swimming pool, visit the Burger King or do something else of the things, you can do in Tórshavn. And once a year, usually in the middle of winter, the family go on a trip abroad. The last years they have been in Danland in Denmark for about 3 weeks. - We're so preoccupied with Kristianshús all summer, so our only option to go abroad is during the winter. These trips abroad are really good for the family's wellbeing, says Katrina.
Life in politicsIt was a desire to improve the living conditions on Mykines who got Katrina, to go into politics shortly after she had moved back to Mykines. Katrina was the mayor of Mykines from 2001 to 2004. - I would not just sit passively and watch, so I offered myself as a candidate. Those were some difficult years and it was often days with conflict. Maybe it's because we are so few that it is difficult to distinguish between personal and political views. But someone must do this work and I did it for a period, says Katrina. Directly asked about where she stands politically, she replies that she and Kaj Leo (the prime minister of the Faroe Islands t. r. ) are cousins and that she do not disagree with the policies he is pursuing.
Mykines was merged with Sørvág municipality in 2005. Katrina is questioning how good it is, that small municipalities are merged with the larger. - For such a small settlement as Mykines may not get as much out of such municipal unity. The question is how much is being done to the interests of the small sites when they are not represented in the village council, says Katrina.
- Sometimes I wonder if we at all is a part of the Faroe Islands? I have a feeling that the more the larger islands are linked with underwater tunnels and roads, the more the small islands are left behind, says Katrina, who believe that there ought to be established some sort of fund for the small islands. From there small islands could receive grants to job creation initiatives. For one or another form of employment is necessary, if it should be possible to maintain life on the smaller islands.
Life as a coupleKatrina has always dreamt of a man, who would settle on Mykines. And in the summer of 1993, a young man from Sandavág named Esbern, was visiting the island. The young woman was then home on Mykines. She worked as an employee of Kristianshús, to earn money to study in London. - Yes, I was lucky. For Esbern would very much like to try life as a resident of Mykines. And even with me, recounts Katrina smiling.
To live in such a small place with so few people make huge demands on the relationship. For who is there to tell those moments, where everything is unbearable? What do Katrina do, when we along with the girls gossip about the men, when we lose our temper or go berserk in a clothes shop? Katrina goes a long walk. Or use Skype and call one of the sisters. It is, along with faith, the greatest strengths of her relationship. Esbern is my best friend and we talk about everything. He knows more about me than anyone else. With him I do not need to hide the sides of myself, that I am not so proud of.
Life on Mykines"Mykines is the most beautiful island I have ever experienced and you are so lucky to live here." So a tourist said to Katrina recently. I was so happy. And I totally agree, says Katrina, who feel a great love for the island.
- It is on Mykines that I thrive best. I have my roots here and here I am at home, says Katrina. I could certainly live elsewhere, but it had only been the second best solution. So it is not because of me that the village maybe die out, for I have no plans to move from the island.
What about children? Katrina hopes that Ronja and Hans Meinhard also choose the village as the place to stay when they become adults? Katrina reflect. - Like all mothers, I want to give them a good life. Where it is, has less significance.
Life in the FaithI do not know if I should say that I am saved. But in any case, I became faithful some years ago. It was at a time, when I had it not so good. Today, the faith is of great importance in my life, explains Katrina. She reads in the Bible every day, as she read in other books about faith. Especially books about parenting. I am thinking hard about how I give my children the best upbringing and it is, in my view, on a Christian foundation. Katrina also participates in bible courses at the Hjemmemissionen, the domestic mission. Yes, for some years ago I first set off for Nesvík (Where the Hjemmemissionen has a training center, o.a.). Without knowing a single person. I had a big profit from that and every year afterwards, have been on this course, says Katrina.
Without faith, my life would not be the same. What do I get out of living in a large and beautiful house? And owning several original paintings of Mikines? It has no meaning without belief, philosophers Katrina, who, though she is a believer, is not fanatical. I have my faith and I am not interfering in how other people live their lives, says Katrina.