Montag, 10. April 2017

With 2 Feet: Finland 2

Part II: Finland

It rained during that night and in the morning the laundry I had so carefully draped over my tent was wetter than before. The weather forecast had more rain and maybe even a bit of a storm coming for that day, but my feet were itching to move on. Geared up in rainy pants and jacket I followed the road, stopping at every other bus stop that provided a bench and roof. My food was running low and the rain was getting stronger. I passed the border to Finnish Lapland and took a break at an old gas station which was supposed to have a shop, but the building was deserted and rather run down. I had already walked 15 km that day and thought about camping under the roof of the gas station (saving energy and thereby food), but when I walked around the building to find a good spot to pee, all of a sudden something felt utterly wrong about this place. I could not make myself stay, even though I could see the bad weather coming.
I marched on in pouring rain with a storm approaching, my face and hands were tingling and I was soaked to the bone. When the supermarket which was advertised for on a big poster next to the road did not come, I finally gave up, set my backpack down in a bus stop and sticked out my thumb.

I must admit that I had tried to trick fate into doing me a favour that day. Mark the single most important Rule of Being Outside:
Do not do that. Like, EVER. If there is no shelter in sight, keep low and know your place in the order of things. Otherwise, fate will kick you in the balls. In order to be seen from the road, I had to stand in a deep puddle of water with lightning directly above me. Not. Good.

Twentysix cars rushed by before a nice old man who did not speak any English or Swedish picked me up and drove me 25 km to Kemi, where he dropped me off at a shopping mall. To me, coming directly from the cold and rain, tired and soaked as I was, it looked like the high temple of consumerism. I laid out my sacrifice of paper and metal to the priestess and got in return the promise of a warm meal (and a Snickers).
In town I met Christophe from Luxembourg, who was hitchhiking to Inari in the north east of Finland. He joined me in the quest for a hot shower and fresh socks, both of which we found at the local campsite. We had dinner behind the lavatories (the only place where the gas stoves would burn, it was still super windy), drank cheap Finnish beer, dried our stuff and had a little party in the girls' shower, talking about life until after midnight. Sometimes I still wonder that all of this happened in just one day.

Kemi at sunset

The next day I said goodbye to Christophe and took the bike lane in the direction of Tornio. The tent was wet, it was raining again and my feet hurt like hell. After just 6 km I took a break at the deserted Kemi Tornio Airport and waited for the rain to stop, which it didn't. I pitched the tent under the canopy to let it dry, and when the airport was still closed a few hours later and nobody came to shoo me away, I ate a cup of ramen, lay down in my sleeping bag and went to sleep then and there. Nobody even noticed.

In the morning the rain had stopped, but the ground was still muddy and not at all tent-able. My right ankle produced a grinding feeling with every step. After a few kilometres my foot and shoulder hurt so badly that I decided to hitchhike, but it was Sunday and apparently I looked neither cute nor desperate enough to be picked up.

Keminmaa at early morning

Which was the point when resignation turned to determination. The only question was who would win: head or pain. Eating all the chocolate I had left and listening to far too loud music, I dragged my hurting self the longest 23 km I had ever walked. When the sign announcing Tornionjoki („my“ river to follow north from there on) came in sight, I started crying right there in the middle of town.

After these three days of pain I splurged on three days of self-care at Camping Tornio.

Cheese-and-ham sandwich, carrot cake, and tap water. Oh sweet victory, you taste so good.

The days were filled with sitting around looking out of windows, knitting, eating, and watching the kids play outside. I met Florian from Bremerhaven with his bike who in return had met Christophe in Rovaniemi a day earlier. Even the one kilometre to the supermarket and back was so exhausting that I refrained from exploring the surroundings further. I came to love the proper Scandinavian sauna and spent as much time there as possible. „Sauna ist toll“, I wrote in my notebook.