26 Sep 2007

Cheap beer!

Posted by walterheck

The next morning I got up at 6:30, packed my bag, had breakfast with the last of Odd’s salmon and got on my way. I had to walk back into town and cross it, to start hitchhiking on the other side. Luckily it didn’t take long to get picked up. The guy picking me up spoke only Sami, but he was apparently going in my direction. He dropped me off in Karigasniemi, Lappi-laani, Finland. Yay, country number three! I looked around (this was obviously a very small bordertown). I found a shop, bought some supplies (in euro’s and not so f****ng expensive, yay!) and then got back to the crossroads to find a completely empty road 🙁

The map I found was not a map of the roads, rather a map of the snowmobile tracks. Luckily in light grey the roads were also on it, so I decided my next aiming point was going to be Ivalo. The road was completely empty though, with one car every 20 minutes or so, mostly packed. I decided to start walking, since I had seen shelters on the map every 20Km or so (the next town being about 60Km away). Worst case scenario, I would hike all the way there and make it in three days (yes, I was seriously considering this might happen). I hiked about 12 Km I guess, when finally someone picked me up (I don’t remember which car, I should really start writing the blog posts sooner 😉 ).

They brought me all the way to Ivalo, where I looked for some internet to look for a couch for the night. I found internet (free!) in the library and found Philippe’s profile. He had his phone number on it and also seemed quite active. I gave him a call, but he didn’t pick up the phone. I decided to start making my way to Sodankylä anyway (that’s where he lived) and find some other solution if he still didn’t pick up by the time I got there (or couldn’t host me for whatever reason of course 🙂 ).

I got a ride from a guy that I thought said that he was going to Sodankyla. His english was very fast and badly articulated, so it turned out he was only going 25Km or so. I got out along a 100Km/h road, thinking I would never be picked up again.

I looked at my phone to find a missed call from a Finnish number. It must be Philippe! I called back and this time he picked up (It turned out later he thought I was another dutch guy he dropped off in the forest the day before and thought that guy was in trouble ;)). He said he could host me, but was at work until 22.00. By that time it was 19.00 or something and I was still 130Km out. I told him I would try to make it and call him around 22.00 to update him on my status. He explained where to wait for him should I make it all the way before 22.00. I was very happy, hoping I would make it to Sodankylä and not having to spend the night outside!

Luckily that was not the case, so I got a ride again. The guy was speaking only very little English and he was saying something about “only 20 km”. I didn’t understand what he was saying, so I got a little nervous as he started saying it more and more when we got closer to Sodankylä. By now it was pitch dark and cars were driving fast here. I knew that if he was going to drop me off here, I could forget about getting to Sodankylä today. Nervously I watched the 60Km sign passing by. I got more and more nervous watching 50, 40,30 and 20 pass by. By then I realized that he was probably going to take me at least within walking distance of Sodankylä, although I was very tired from the whole day and prayed that I would be taken all the way.

It turned out that he dropped me off just at the border of Sodankylä, so to the day of today I have no clue what he meant by only 20Km 🙂 I was tired and my legs were hurting, so I made my way to the pub Philippe had pointed out to me. Off course it was hard to find, as I could use that right now 🙂 I even asked a guy in a place that later turned out to be 15 meters from the entrance and he didn’t know (he was living in Sodankylä!)

In the end I found it and rewarded myself with a big glass of beer (only 4€ for a pint, woohoo!) that disappeared in me like it was just one sip. I ordered another one and asked for the pool table. I tipped the bar tender with my last Norwegian change (worth about 3€) and he gave me the pool balls.

I started out playing pool alone (killing time as it was 21:15 when I got to the bar) and was challenged by a guy that didn’t speak a single word of English. Luckily pool is quite an international game, so we could still play together.

Philippe called me to tell me he was going to be late, so I waited around a little longer. He showed up around 22.30 and we left for his house. He told me he was actually living 30Km out of Sodankylä but was registered there to attract a little bit more guests. We got into his Toyota Landcruiser and drove to his house in a small village.

As stated in his profile his house was a ‘work in progress’. It was cosy, but there was definitely some ‘room for improvement’ 😉 We talked about a lot of interesting things though, so I didn’t really mind.

He was an outdoor guy as he had been living in the Finnish forest for years before moving into this place. He was mathematician working on programs to invert large scale matrices, used in real time 3d rendering of X-ray scans. Very interesting material (for a nerd like me, at least 😉 ). One of his ideas for a couchsurfing meeting was to build a swamp hut on his property as he had some knowledge of the construction of such a building and had a lot of swamp on his land. That would be an awesome meeting!

Philippe recommended me to go to Vaasa, which was about 8 hours by train away on Finland’s coast. There was going to be a cs meeting the next night, so I decided that was going to be my next destination. Philippe contacted some people he knew there to get me a couch. Looking at the distance, I decided to take the train from Rovaniemi (about 100Km away from where I was now) as it was a little far to hitchhike in one day. Around 1:00 we went to bed, a little late as we needed to get up early the next day (I needed to hitchhike to Rovaniemi before catching the train).

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One Response to “Cheap beer!”

  1. You made a glass disappear? How did that happen? Where did it go? Was it magic? I’m confused…