Bored of Borders

It’s 16:40 and we have reached a town called Hirvasvaara.

Last night the snowing stopped only around 2:00 making it a 12 hour long snowfall. We have nothing against the snow per se, but its nasty habit of melting in a temperature above zero is deal breaker. Because of the wet snow we woke up in a wet tent and unpleasantly moist sleeping-bags. Fortunately in the morning the sky was clear so we could pack up our stuff and dry the sleeping-bags a bit. For the first part of the day we used a small forest road, which in this season looks more like a firebreak, because the surface of the road is hidden beneath a 2 meters thick cover of snow. The only vehicles that can be used on this trail are snowmobiles and skis of course. By the road we see abandoned houses with blind broken windows and a herd of reindeers, who became our only chat buddies. To be honest I have to say that the reindeers are not a particularly chatty animals. For the second part of this day we followed a larger road, which led us to Hirvasvaara.

Hirvasvaara is a nice town, but untouched by the global hand of English language. In the town center we met a man, who directed us to o house on the outskirts of the town, where we might find someone speaking our language. So we left our sledge in the town center and went to this house searching for some understanding.

We found the house and in the house we found an elderly Finnish couple Eva and Heikki, who were eager to talk, but unfortunately only in Finnish. However the language barrier was no obstacle for the hospitality of our hosts. In no time we were sitting by the table and having coffee with blubbery pie. The Finnish couple proved to be not only hospitable but also quite resourceful – they called one of their sons, who agreed to play the role of interpreter. So we began chatting in an interesting manner – we were sitting right opposite each other, but talked through the son on the other end of the wire. We hadn’t even finished explaining who we are and why are we here, when the son told me that his father wants to know, at what time he should heat the sauna. There and then it became clear that today our journey ends here with Eva and Heikki. At first we tried to politely refuse the invitation and told our hosts that we will make our camp near the lake, but in response we got two wide smiles and assurance that there are plenty of spare beads in the house. This lucky encounter overturns the popular belief about the secluded souls of northerners, because I can assure you that these two nordic hearts are wide open.

When the main issues are settled and the son has left the conversation, four people and two languages remain around the table, but even so we have found some kind of a common tongue, which I call “Sauna.” Martins is going back to the city center to get our sledge, but I’m unfolding the map, to show our hosts the route we have taken.

Karlis (66° 32.54N, 028° 36.45E)

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