I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her… If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this.
Henry David Thoreau (Journal, 3 January 1853)
It’s the middle of the night and I’m laying in my tent, deep in the woods. Suddenly I hear footsteps. They’re coming closer and closer to me. My heart races nervously. Something, or someone, is trying to get into my tent. I scream. The next morning, I discover that a creature has gnawed a hole through my tent. And the following night, the footsteps come again. As I fumble desperately for a torch, I put my hand on something furry and scream again. I have previously camped in forests inhabited by wolves and bears, but it is this creature, which turns out to be a tiny mouse, which finally manages to scare the hell out of me!
I am writing this blog entry at 4am. I am camping on the side of a mountain in southern Spain and I am sick. Very sick.
When I made plans to come to Spain, I imagined lazy days of swimming in the sea and climbing rocks, and sunny hikes on the Camino de Santiago. Maybe I would learn Spanish and maybe I would finally learn organic farming. The next few months were sure to be wonderful……
Reality has proved very different and for some reason, Spain and I don’t get on at all. Since crossing the French border, I have hiked in torrential downpours on the Camino and I have had to go to hospital with achilles tendonitis, where I was unable to walk for a week.
Because of this bad luck, I hobble over to Portugal and recover. I visit my friends Karina and Andre and together we decide upon a roadtrip to the Iberic Rainbow Gathering in southern Spain. We drive in Andre’s campervan in monsoon-type weather to Ojen, close to Marbella.
I leave England once again and have one intention – to visit Norway. I get as far as Sara’s in Malmo, Sweden, and we spontaneously agree, “let’s go to Finland!” And so my Norway plans are put on hold and I board a ferry in Stockholm with Sara, her sister Lea and Lea’s daughter, Aviaja. Nothing can ruin my excitement about visiting Finland, not even the hideous ferry crossing where most people’s intention is to get paraletic, and where the security man threatens to confiscate our food. Apparently we are not allowed to bring food on a sixteen hour ferry crossing which doesn’t cater for vegans!
We arrive in Helsinki. I have wanted to visit this city for about ten years, but all I see of it is a ten minute tram ride to a hitchhiking spot. I vow to come back to Helsinki in a week or two, but fate has other ideas, and I never make it back there. I also never make it to Norway. I hitch alone northwards, whilst Sara and family take the train. We are heading to the Finland Rainbow Gathering (a hippie meet-up) in the countryside in Paukarlahti. I repeatedly mutter to myself, “I have never seen so many trees!” There is forest absolutely everywhere. Continue reading “Finland – The land of a thousand lakes, a million trees and ten million mosquitoes”