Rain, rain, go away

9. August 2016 § Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Today easily counts as the worst day of my 150 days of cycling Europe. Rain and headwind plus so many hills made the frighteningly lonely leg from Karesuando (Sweden’s nearly northernmost village) to Munio a bit of a challenge. But it’s amazing what you can get used to. Cold spray onto your face? It gets warm as you exert yourself. Wet clothes? All the more will you enjoy the moment of arrival, when you can peel yourself out of them. A new bank of clouds moving up on the horizon, ready to hit you with some more drizzle after you just stopped for some  dried fruit and water? You can’t hold the bastards up anyway, so occupy your mind with something small and trivial. Why is my right shoe more soaked than my left? What is better ultimately, taking the less-travelled road on the Swedish side of the great river or the by now trusty E8 on the Finnish side? At least on the lonely route through the Swedish woods, I don’t get splashed all over by trucks. And the wind and rain are the same on either side, in all likelihood.

 Also, the Saami live on both sides and speak the same language, a young guy at the Karesuando information centre told me. He can barely have been out of high school, but his English was highly idiomatic, picked up from games (he said) and TV (I surmised). He was reticent to answer my questions about what languages he had grown up with, and whether the large school with a Saami architectural twist was any good. Yeah, he also learnt how to write his mother tongue. But that was as much confessional information as I could tease out of him. Too personal, I guess, for a teenager. I thought I would direct my curiosity to sundry indigenous people I would find along the road. Only, there weren’t any. I mean, people in general. Once in a while, a waving hand in a car, but they might have been tourists, judging from the makes of their cars. The older cars were mostly wrecks, stationed on some compounds with deserted looking sheds and cabins. I suppose the Saami were all out and about in the hinterland, catching salmon and picking lingonberries and mushrooms. I knew as much that they couldn’t have been tending their reindeer herds, as the barely domesticised aninals were roaming freely in the mountains at this time of the year. Or so the boy had told me. His final word: They were running away from the mosquitoes.

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