More than one and a half months have flown by in the icy north, and since last week it has become a good deal icier. The snows have reached Joensuu, which until now mostly blessed us with sunny (or what passes in Finland for sunny) weather. Well, the sleets anyway.
I’ve spent the last couple of non-sleety weeks exploring the vincinity…
… and I have to say that the chilled meditative driving down the long lonesome roads I had mentioned some posts ago does get on your nerves after a while. Trees and lakes and trees and lakes and the occiasional farm (and trees) don’t give you the feel of progressing through thise vast country at all.
It does inspire one to think of creative ways to deal with this solitude. Tough luck if you’re the driver, though:
Take half a shot for every new lake you spot.
Take a sip of beer for every time you see the same lake again after passing some trees.
Take a shot for spotting a person walk on the road.
Take two shots for a Finnish car in front of you with an actual three-letter word on the license plate.
Drink a sixpack for spotting a moose on the road. You will need it.
Indeed, the silhouette of a moose in the evening mists blocking the road in front of you is quite awe-inspiring. For about two seconds. Then yout hit the breaks and honk like a madman, realizing only minutes later what a cool photo this would have made. Then again, not getting a photo is quite preferable to having a moose up your windshield. But enough of my near-death experiences. If you can think of any more rules, be sure to let me know!
Apart from that, the motorways are quite dull. It is much more fun to take one of the endless opportunities to get off the asphalt and onto the winding country roads that snake through the forest. Avoiding potholes, driving up steep inclines and down tremendous drops just to reach a remote cottage in the woods with a couple of screaming and shouting people in the car feels almost like a rollercoaster ride. Of course, a well-balanced jeep would feel even better in there than ruining the suspension on my golf. Oh well.
So, what did I learn about Finland in these past few weeks apart from it mostly consisting of trees and lakes? Well, without stereotyping too much, for one that Finns are really laid-back people, which is not only reflected in their way of life but most of all in their language. If they decide to speak, which is not a given, talk is usually slow and thoughtful, but may end abruptly when there is no conclusion to be made. This can be quite irritating to a foreigner, awaiting some sort of logical end to the sentence. They do open up after a few drinks, magically so. Up to the point where you can’t get them off you. It is no wonder the alcohol prices are so high, in that regard… And of course there are exceptions to the rule, mostly in the younger female quadrant of Finns.
I also learned that this place will be really cold in winter. October has hardly come to an end and I’m already wearing the warmest jacket I have (one I didn’t even have in Germany, mind you), although on good days with just a T-shirt underneath. Which is a good thing, as rooms tend to be a veritable blast furnace when compared to the outside, as if the Finns wanted to have that sauna feeling everyhwere they go.
Ah yes, sauna. Gotta say, back in Germany I was never quite so much into it, but here I’ve been gladly taking part in it. It also embodies this relaxed lifestyle quite a bit, as after three rounds of hot sauna and a cool shower (or a jump into the lake) you do feel quite at peace wth yourself and the world. And hellishly tired.
And I also learned that Finns can’t play football. Sorry.
Oh, don’t take it too hard. I suck at it, too.