Heading North…

The next day I felt my time had come to finally go to Lapland. So I said goodbye to Anna-Sofia and went to the train station. The personnel told me student rebate was not available for foreign students, which was a good excuse for me to go hitchhiking. It was raining outside and I should have felt bad. Instead, I hummed some invented melodies on my way to the freight terminal. I had to wait only about 20 minutes before a truck driver took me halfway to Tampere, a bigger town 200 km north of Helsinki. Since he was younger he spoke some English, but our conversation didn’t really go beyond occasional remarks about the good roads here and the bumpy once in Poland. He brought me to a gas station, where I immediately got a ride from an Estonian architect. Now this one was interesting. He drove to Tampere, where he actually showed me a larger building he had designed. It looked good, and gave me the feeling the world is not that big after all.

I didn’t want to stay in Tampere though, and posted myself alongside the road to Vaasa with my ultimate direction drawn on a piece of paper a man at the gas station kindly gave me. Again, it didn’t take more than ten minutes to get a ride, this time from a nice older truck driver from Vaasa, who took me all the 230 kilometers to his town.

Hitchhiking romantics has been described in many ways, and there are probably as many words about it as there are kilometers on the road. I felt like I should contribute something of my own. We sat silently next to each other and listened to the pop songs played by the local radio channel. It was so peaceful, and I felt so lively. Before darkness I reflected about the truck mirrors, which were plenty but never enough to completely overcome the blind spot. I liked the metaphore with the reflecting mirrors, and decided to do some self-reflection tomorrow. I also saw something that could really be a good candidate for the primordial hitchhiking experience. What did I see? I saw a rainbow in the exhaust vapor of the truck driving in front of us.

It got dark and I stood in the center of Vaasa. A woman told me that I was on the road directly to Oulu, which was not on the signs yet because it was too far away. I walked that road, holding up my sign, and got lucky again. First a man working for an international technical documentation company brought me to a 24 hour roadside restaurant, after a coffee there an security guard took me to a crossing, and from there, two incredibly friendly Husky-people took me and offered me a place to sleep. Their car was packed with three big friendly dogs and a laundromat, but still they could fit me in. We drove to their home in Eskola, a small town of 300, in the middle of the country. That night, I also got my first sauna experience in Finland. My new friends prepared a bed in the kitchen, where I slept really well.