Since I chose to take the E 75, which seems to be endless going down to Helsinki, my mind wanders of on the rythm of the pedals and the double bass beat of the metal playing in my ears.
I keepthinking about the fact that I ride here as an unknown stranger, all alone in the big stretches of woods and fields.
The German cyclist I talked to at an ABC-gas station will forget my name (I didn’t remember his after five seconds) when he’s downed his coffee, checked his e-mail one last time and gets on his bike. I gave him some advice for the road up ahead, as well as he enthused me for going to Poland. The many car drivers who pass me by might shake their heads in disbelieve about the lonesome cyclist who’s carrying a heavy load up a 8% steep hill. Some raise a hand or blink with their front lights. Out of respect I’ll like to think. Along the stretch in Norway up to the North Cape some even took pictures from behind their safe and warm windshields. At my first stop in Finland I was cold and wet, tried to get some warmth in my hands to be able to quickly eat my sandwhich and get inside for a cup of hot chocolatemilk. A tourist coming from her air-conditioned touringcar didn’t even slow her pace to take a picture like I was payed to be standing there entertaining them.
Only the few Warmshower-hosts I was able to ‘get’ here in Finland will know my name and reasons for being in their country. All those other people we do ask me when I for example have a rest with a pipe of tobacco know where I’m from and that I’m heading south after I have visited the North Cape. All those others see me, but the next moment they are in awe by the marvolous sight of the sun peaking through the rainclouds. They’ll never know where I am from, where I am heading, why the hell I am cycling there in the first place. Not to mention what I feel, think or going through. About the joys of travelling and the few downsides. They’ll never know anyting about me. Neither the young woman in the library of Heinola from whom I ask the wifi-code to check my mail and to upload this blog. After that I stroll further like an anonimous ghost through the last Scandinavian country on my trip.
But this ghost rider takes it all in. I smile when a kind man asks about my journey and ends with ‘God bless you’. I almost laugh out loud when someone thinks I should stay in Finland, because I am blond and would feel right at home here. It’s almost heartwarming when an old fellow nods affably and raises a wrinkly hand. Another old man who just raises his thumbs in Jyväskylä as he walks by. A Warmshower-host who does effort for me to obtain an assignment in order to raise money for CooP. I take it all in, probably more than in Sweden, because the meetings are more rare here in Finland.
But not only those encounters I will remember when I get back ‘home’. Also the time, that I stumbled upon my first ‘laavu’ after a rainy day at the vicinity of a little town called Temmes. There I could make a fire – there was so much wood I could keep it burning until Christmas – in order to get some warmth and cook my simple meal of ‘turska’ (another assignment) with some vegetables and potato slices. Those things are like a little gift for the simple traveller. The relieve of just having packed up my tent before it starts to rain. I still can’t get enough of the fact after I loaded my panniers on the bike, that I don’t leave a single trail. No one will ever know I spend the night there. The wonderment of the fact that all of a sudden – after Rovaniemi – Finland gets almost as flat as The Netherlands. The beautiful cities with the hodgepodge of different people going around their own business.
So, although I just take the ‘quick’ road down to Helsinki, Finland has engraved everlasting memories in my mind. Therefore I like to use the one word I use most in this fantastic country: Kiitos!