Lapland Tour: Day 2
We managed a whole 6 hours sleep which was luxury compared to our previous night when we only had 2. Clint prepared the breakfast, and then it was off to the local school in Salla accompanied by Eeva – Erkki’s cousin who had kindly planned us a day of activities.
Shortly after 8.30am, we were in a classroom full of 16 year old students hoping to improve their English. We introduced our five countries and then we talked about the University of Joensuu, because we had been instructed by Anton that we should do some publicity for the university on our trip. (On our return we convinced a director of the university that they should fund international students on future trips like ours to do publicity for the university!)
The school we visited were actually having an international day and the next event was a music concert of music from around the world. After their performance, we infiltrated the stage and took over the instruments. Luckily we had the talented Anya with us who spontaneously broke into a song, and so the rest of us untalented individuals hummed along to Anya and we each grabbed a drum so that it actually looked like we were ‘the band’. I do not think that Salla had ever seen anything like it… Five people from completely different corners of the world, on a trip visiting a countryside school in Lapland, exuding confidence, laughter and singing songs. And so this is when we decided that we should be called the University of Joensuu International Publicity Band!
After another class of entertaining the students with our humourous introductions to our respective countries, including the suggestion that Finland might soon invade Russia, we had lunch and then made a poster about our visit. If you ever visit this school in Salla, you should find the mark of the University of Joensuu International Publicity Band. :)
The next destination was the countryside surrounding Salla, in particular a house miles from no where, close to the Russian border, near Lake Kolunki, called Majava. In the garden there were a number of huts, one of which was the toilet, and wandering about in the field were a number of reindeer completely uninterested in our presence – similar to those we almost hit on the road! This was the house of Eeva’s husband’s family, now only used as a place of retreat from their house in the town. It was a step back into the past. A giant bear skin hung on the wall, a large collections of old cross-country skiing medals, and an old radio the only entertainment – this was probably the most unique place I had visited in Finland.
One of the huts in the garden was a smoke sauna – the most traditional type of Finnish sauna. A smoke sauna takes two days to prepare, first lighting the fire and then getting the smoke right, I assume so that the occupants do not die from carbon monoxide! Luckily this preparation had been carefully undertaken for us and so all we had to do was go enjoy it. It was great to do this unique thing on my birthday, even if I did smell like a bonfire for the rest of the day!
In the evening we went to a church for yet another carol service. It was very informal as we all sat around tables and sang whilst sitting down. After singing 23 Finnish Christmas carols we were starting to feel our sleep deprivation and began to find even the most simple things quite hilarious. This might also explain the biscuit eating competition when we got home, and the late night animal dancing. We eventually forced ourselves to bed, our faces tired from a day full of laughter – the best way to enjoy my birthday!