After one of the best meals we’ve had yet and memorable conversations with our hosts Carl Michael and Leif, we set off yet again for another 50 kilometers or so of biking. Food was on our mind because of these three observations about the Swedish countryside:
1) There are very few people here. I’m sure I’ve passed more people walking a half a kilometer in Ghana, Bali or India than biking 70 in Sweden.
2) There seem to be very few cafes, restaurants or places simply to buy food.
3) The few we’ve encountered have often been closed and since it was Midsummer’s Day and a National Holiday, we were concerned about lunch.
So we were thrilled to pull into Malmkoping (mentioned in the book I’m reading about The 100- Year-Old Man…!) and find a Pizza-Kebab-Falafel place open. Right next to the park where the Maypole (okay, I know it’s called something different) was being prepared. So I had falafel for lunch, served by a Middle-Eastern man who was one of the many immigrants come to Sweden.
At 2:00 sharp, exactly the time we were told, they began to raise the pole while two fiddlers, a bass and a keyboard played. There was a crowd of perhaps 100 people (a giant group given our experience!), the women decked out in beautiful Swedish dresses and with flower garlands in their hair. Some Muslim women with head scarves were there as well and it all seemed fine and I wonder if they would someday join the flower-garlanded folks. Across the street was a Thai Take-Out Food truck (not open). Welcome to the new world.
Once the pole was up, the people began dancing led by a women singing out directions. Simple folk dances moving right and left, in and out, miming work actions and so on. Sweet. Not the intensity of festivals in Ghana, Bali, India, not the beer-drinking at Maibaum outside of Salzburg, but a simple sweet greeting of the summer on the longest day of the year.
We stayed for a while, but as Malmkoping was only the halfway point of our ride and it was nearing 3:30 pm, we set off again. Soon after, one of the two electric bikes gave out and the rider, Marcia, was concerned about making it to the end. I offered to take the heavy battery and that helped and gave me some extra exercise. Finally arrived at our Air B&B in Skykasa and spent some of the evening checking out Swedish TV. Interesting for a bit, but not easy since none of us speak a word of Swedish.
What will tomorrow bring?