In the dance of familiar and comforting repetition and surprising and exciting variation, travel is mostly about the latter. New sights, new sounds, new tastes, new people alongside Wifi and Starbucks. In just one day in the town of Ivalo in Northern Finland, I’ve had my fair share of the new and delightful. Amongst them:
• Drank water directly from a stream and was assured it was safe. Haven’t been able to do that out in the American wilderness since 1970 or so.
• Went to the Sami Museum in Inari and learned a bit about the indigenous people of the area. Thoroughly “modernized” now, but holding on to their language, arts and customs. Yet there are only 300-400 Inari Sami left who still speak their native tongue, five of whom will be coming to my workshop tonight. That should be fascinating.
• Went to a restaurant in the town of Inari (population around 580) and it could have been in New York or San Francisco. Passed over the reindeer course and had cauliflower patties with red pepper sauce, chaga mushroom tea with sweetgrass syrup and birch leaf sorbet with tar licorice and smoke for dessert. All delicious!
• The usual jet lag and awakening at various times during the night and the sun still out no matter what time it was. (Luckily remembered to bring a sleep mask!). The Land of the Midnight Sun is real!
• The countryside reminds me of a less mountainous Lake Tahoe region in the Sierras, dry with pines and lakes.
• I’ve heard nightmare stories about hordes of mosquitoes and my host Jessika (one of the ex-Interns in our Orff program) assures me they’re true. But they don’t arrive until next week. My timing is perfect!!! (I leave on Sunday)
• Nobody locks the doors to their house or car. Last time I experienced this was on Peaks Island, Maine back in 1987. What a lovely feeling.
Today I have some time to walk around a lake, prepare my classes and then begin teaching my two and half day course. So grateful for this life, jet lag and all.