All photos courtesy Oskar Klaren
Oskar Klaren is a 26-year-old Swedish guy who currently is walking to Morocco all the way from Oslo in Norway. When he reaches his destination, he will have covered 4,000 kilometres by foot. And he isn't doing it for a good cause like most people who are walking extreme lenghts. Oskar's adventure sounds more like something 20-somethings are dreaming of doing when they've been watching Into the Wild too many times. Either way, Oskar sent us an email and let us know that he has now reached Belgium. So I called him up on Skype to find out what the heck is going on.
VICE: Hey, Oskar, how are you?
Oskar Klaren: It's pretty good now actually. Good. Now tell me why you are walking to Morocco? I want answers.
Those kind of questions don't have any good answers. But I guess I got an idea, and thought that I should do it. So I did it. I started walking because I can walk. Fair enough. Where do you walk? Is it even possible to walk along highways and big roads?
I mostly walk on walking paths and tiny roads in forests. And when that's impossible, I walk along the roads. I often find cycling paths that I can walk on. There are actually paths like that all over Europe. Aren't there a lot of side-effects from walking so much?
Are you kidding me? I have never been in so much pain before in my entire life. I have never walked this far before. And I've never trained for this either. I was so eager to begin my walk, so I was like, "this is going to be amazing! It's such an adventure". So I ran away and walked 35-40 kilometres per day. After four days, I got an infection in my Achilles' tendon, parts of my feet broke down, I got pain in my knees, and my hips started to hurt. Basically everything hurt for two and a half months.
Fuck. How did you sort that out?
I walked less. So from walking 35 kilometres per day, I walked maybe ten instead. And then I started walking more and more again to 25 kilometres a day. So no medical care then. When did this journey begin?
I started walking on June 9, at 4AM in the night. At night? Why?
There was a lot of good-byes and farewell stuff before. Are you not suffering from doing this all alone?
In one way, I guess I am. It's boring to see all these people passing by. But it's pretty nice, too. It's meditative. I guess we all need that from time to time. How long do you think it will take before you'll arrive to your final destination?
I will hopefully get there by the end of January, or beginning of February. I calculate how much I walk every day with Google maps. According to that, it was supposed to have been six months. But then that turned into eight months. And now I'm on the edge to nine months. What's going to happen when you reach your destination, will you stay or fly back?
Oh, I really can't fly back. Imagine to walk such long way for nine months, and then fly back in four hours. That's like beating myself with a baseball bat. That would be too weird. So I have to take the train, if anything. I'm also thinking about maybe getting a motorcycle and go back riding that. I want to see the entire way I've walked on my way back. What are you missing the most on your walks?
Warm food and a shower. Wait. How and where are you sleeping?
Under the open sky. I have a bivy bag, which is an expensive plastic bag that I cover myself with when it rains.
OK. So how are you surviving financially?
Initially, I was considering doing street performance, I'm an old jester. I went to circus school when I was young. But then I tried crowd funding and managed to get around €1000, which is enough for now. I might do that again when the money are gone. But then again, like today when I was going to skype with you, I went into a coffee shop and asked if I could borrow the Internet, and we started talking and now I got a coffee and food for free. And that happens pretty often actually. People are nice. Some people tell me to keep away from cities and be really careful, but I've only met nice people. Sleeping outside so much, are you never afraid of getting robbed?
I was almost robbed ten days ago. A few people came up to me and were about to rob me. They were talking in French so I don't really know everything that they were saying. But they left, except for one guy. He wanted to take my camera. But I told him that I needed it to live. And then I asked him why he wanted it and he said he wanted to sell it and use the money to buy food. So I told him I had food that he could have instead, and he was OK with that. So I gave him a bit of pasta with pesto and tomatoes. It seems like you've become a smooth talker now. What is the most amazing thing you've seen so far?
One of my best moments was on the west coast in Sweden where I met a guy who was sailing a lot. He invited me to the island where he lives. We took a ferry to the island and were sailing away from there. So I put all my belongings in his small skiff. And then when we were out sailing for four hours, he told me that just before we met, he sank his own boat. The wind had been really strong and he might not have been the best of sailors. And there I was with absolutely all my belongings in his boat, just in the beginning of the journey of my life. I had laid my life in another person's hands. A person who just had sunk his boat. Another thing that is great, is everything with nature. There's something really particular with living the way I currently live. To sleep in open fields and wake up in the thickest of fogs. It's like waking up in a fairytale. And that's how it is for me seven out of ten days.
Wouldn't you like to share that with someone?
I was thinking about that this morning. I'm currently in Gent, Belgium. And last night I slept in an abandoned house. A proper ghost house, inside an old conservatory where I think people have been studying music and things like that in the beginning of the 18th Century. And it's completely abandoned. In one way, it was really scary, but it was also the best thing ever. It would have been cool to show someone that. Do you ever feel as if you're loosing your mind?
Yeah, maybe some times. I've realised that it's not considered totally normal to walk up to someone in a city and talk to them. I like to talk to people while waiting for something. The Swedish manners disappear when you've been in the forest for a while. Are you longing for the point when you reach your destination?
I have mixed feelings about that. On one side, I'm doing this great adventure, which I want to continue doing for a long time. But I also realise that this life I'm living isn't going to work in the long run. I miss stuff, like people to talk to and faces that hang around with me for longer than an hour. It's pretty exhausting to be separated from people all the time. And I'd like to get there so I can feel that I went through it all. But I'm having a really good time at the moment. Do you have any idea of what you will be doing when it's all over?
Yeah. I want to go to Ceuta, the Spanish colony outside of Morocco, and look at the wall that is going around the city to keep Africans from getting in. I'm also thinking about going to Tunisia and lay down on a raft and float over to Italy. I think that sounds extremely dangerous.
I don't know about that. People do that all the time to get into Europe. But people die all the time as well.
Yeah, that's true. But I don't think you should think that way. It might sound a bit weird now, but I will plan that and prepare myself before, obviously. Maybe check on the weather and bring a GPS. Ha ha. You might float in the wrong direction, you know.
Yeah, that's true. I've thought about that, too. This is just an idea at the moment. But I've talked to people who have done it in the past, and it sounds like a really particular experience. I guess so. Thanks, Oskar and good luck with the rest of your journey!
See more photos from Oskar's walk at his blog.
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