Wednesday, August 10, 2005



In Gamvik, the fishing village in Northern Norway in which I had been mistaken for a migrant bird and ringed with the number BA20016, the continent had ended. To the north only the Spitzbergen islands and North Pole. Time to set thumbs, dreams and sails southwards, to Istambul, a trip of several months trough all Eastern Europe with the whole of Finland still ahead. In Lakselv I stayed a night in the house of Anna, a local teacher who spoke perfect spanish and whose contact had been given to me by Birgitte in Slettnes. Anna also allowed me to use the photocopying machine in the school to do 35 of my books, enough to keep me alive 35 days more! And the I set off, towards Finland.

An easy way to know Finland without moving from home is to imagine a pine: strong, tall and green. When we have this pine, we only have to multiply it for one billon. The we add an horizon line, some 40000 lakes and that’s Finland. These lands are not deserted: several millon reindeers and some finnish people live there. It’s still not clear how finnish culture has been able to develop in spite of the reeindeer. Some historians also point that even sauna, the finnish national pride, may be nothing but another way of the primitive finns to escape, for some minutes, the reindeer. In north of Finland, called Lappland, another race, pristine, native from these lands, has made the reindeer the center of their subsistence. I have met them before in Norway, they are the sami.

Inari, Ivalo and Vuotso are the three sami villages that I crossed in my way south. In Vuotso I decided to stay the night. From the road I had seen a family gathered around a fire behind their house. To make contact this time, I used a new technic, tea cup in hand I approached them and asked for some tea. Aki’s family understood that I was asking for much more than tea, mainly for company and some place to stay. After the vainilla twinings the beer arrived and then a terrible rain that made us move the fire into a tipee. Only inside the tipee I was asked my nationality, and even in this latitude when they listen Argentina they say Maradona and they do the mimic of “the hand of god”. We could plant bananos in the whole of our country and declare the skateboard only valid public transport, never mind, they will always know us for Maradona. I was asked what did I know about Finland, so I told them, that they had kicked stalinist troops out in an efficient way, almost using stones,that they invented sauna and that they had invaded the whole world with tiny Nokia phones. I was slow, I should have declined the offer kindly, but it was too late, Aki was standing, shouting “sauna, sauna!” and his family prepearing the sauna for me. Inside, Aki poored inmense spoonfuls of water over the heated stones. He seemed to be giving soup to a dragon. I thought I was gonna volatilize in the 10 minutes I joined Aki in this cruel finnish hobby. But I survived and that night I had a bed waiting for me.


After 4 hours, the following morning, a car stopped in Vuotso. It was a local sami girl called Saara. Saara split her time beetwen reindeer herding and studying International Relations at Rovaniemi University. Saara thought that using snowboards to work with the animals doesn’t imply a loss of traditional sami values, or the vanishing of their culture. On the contrary she thought that the problem were the southern finnish that still want to see the sami as primitive people who chase reindeer with skiies and live in tends. I am sure the sami are pretty sure of what they are, but in a touristic level, unfortunately, this is the image they give of themselves, converting themselves into their own stereotype, acquired reflexevely trough the expectations of the southern finnish in daytrip from Helsinki. The same happens in the Quebrada de Humahuaca since the mediatization of the Tilcara Carnival. Evverything seems to be about cactus, weaven things and llamas. This takes us to the question if it is possible to contact with corrupting. Can we talk even today about a natural line of development for native people around the world?

                                                     ¡Extraños vehículos que se ven en Laponia!

I stayed one night in Rovaniemi, I wanted to talk more with Saara. She explained me that the rheindeer was so important in her culture that when once a woman from her village married Finland’s second richest man, the townman who arrived with the news said that “the man is very good with computers but doesn’t have any reindeers”. I am still surprised that Saara didn’t earmark me as she does with her animals. Having been ringed in Norway as a bird, I was already afraid that I would arrive to Istambul bearing dozens of marks for different kind of cattle, rings, bar codes, etc.

To Oulu I arrived in one ride in Kari’s car, who lent me his laptop with wireless internet to contact on the spot members of Hospitality Club. Kari stopped for me also with the porpouse of educating his 12 year old son, who was also in the car. A really open minded person. So in Oulu I stayed in Passi’s flat. Passi had just arrived from a year in Ireland and spoke english with a funny western irish accent. These were rainy days, so I mainly stayed home to write.

From Oulu to Jyvaskyla I traveled with Esa. Esa had been in the UN peace corps before becoming a pacifist, and now was hoping to get a life in Lappland permanently. He took me to Katriina’s Touco’s and Aleksi’s house, a beautiful and relaxed place I really enjoyed. I had met them in the norwegina rainbow. When I visited them they were analysing the possibility of building home made electric mandolins with biscuits cans, in order to get some cash. Those days passed timeless, oppoertunity for inner travel.

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