Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Long Draught is Ending

So, I've decided to write again. I just paid my dues to my father's land, Finland, for five weeks. We have a cabin on an island on a lake that requires a 5 minute boat ride just to get to. Adventures were plentiful and included killing six snakes with my barehands (if by barehands you mean shovels and if by "my" killing you mean yelling for help and having someone else do it). Using the restroom was especially adventurous, in between sitting on a john with a bucket two feet below my derrier and batting off blood-thirsty mosquitoes. How do they instantly know when you are a target? They don't bother me when I walk or move around, but the minute that I try to use the Krapper, they come out in swarms. The best thing about the outhouse is having to look at what you did the next time you use the latrine...



I also came across a curious looking potato (no, we are not talking about the outhouse stuff anymore). I don't feel like any explanation is needed...



Leisure hours (that means, essentially, when we weren't busy mangling snakes with shovels or taking pictures of boob potatoes) included fishing of all varieties whether it be nets, lures, or bobs. On July 4th, while true patriots show their love for country by eating nutritious things like fatty hot dogs, blowing things up made in China, and complaining to their fellow patriots about how ridiculous it is that gas is $4 per gallon (and less than half the cost of Europe's) and about how ridiculous it is that we keep buying things from China (oblivious, of course, that it includes those $40 lame firework bundles from grocery stores), we went fishing. And 54 fish later, we all felt a little more American by not eating the bounty we had just caught, but by grilling up some hamburgers.


Fishing wasn't all, of course. There was kayaking on an open lake that I virtually had to myself, and endless hours of sauna time. Finland, to those of you who don't know, is where the sauna first began, as "sauna" is actually a Finnish word. For some weird reason, the custom is to eat makkara, akin to a polish sausage, while enjoying the sauna. Eating something hot and sweaty while I myself am hot and sweaty just doesn't sit well with me.



Then there's this weird festival on Summer Solstice. Pagan in its roots (unlike those pure-motive holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and especially Halloween), it commemorates the longest day of the year. Instead of blowing up stuff made up in China, though, we gather twigs and fallen branches and make what is called a kokko. Starting off environmentally-friendly (my favorite catch-phrase of the day which can conveniently be used to castigate those people with whom we do not associate: "Kids, we don't play Playstation 8 like your friends next door. That's just not environmentally friendly" and so forth), the kokko becomes Al Gore's worst nightmare (that is, if you choose to turn a blind eye to his $30,000/yr electric bill for his home). It is then doused in gasoline imported from our Middle East friends and torched into flames while floating on a platform on the lake. My last name, Kokkonen, simply means the son of the person responsible for making the heap of wood that is to be lit in flames.
One day, after so many days of wilderness, the longing for civilization, crowds, and Western culture (you just can't resist it, can you? Can you?) in all its glory compelled us to drive three hours to Helsinki, Finland's capital. Here we visited a church built of rocks and built into an existing rockbed. Free admission, 1 euro to use the restroom. The line for the bathroom was longer than the line for the church. And people submitted to the charge calmly (whilst in America one was heard screaming "you mean I have to pay a whole quarter for this 32 oz. cup of water!" in an incredulous tone). We also saw a fortress called Suomenlinna, once strategic, now just a dwelling place for hobbits (left picture). My brother, utterly insolent and disgusted at the thought of paying to use the restroom (I may or may not be embellishing his sentiments at the time), thought it more civil to urinate like a hobo on some trash cans in an alleyway (since, you know, that's what hobo's do--urinate on trash cans in alleyways).

Through relaxing in Europe, I decided that I couldn't completely feel comfortable as a European. The urge to actually work (a silly word in a country that shuts down in July--including a domestic airline company--and leads the world with 45 paid holidays per year) set in. I decided to help refinish our canoe. That, and digging a 50 meter trench measuring a foot wide and 2 feet deep for sheer kicks and giggles, were my projects. Actually, that urge to consume and be a part of Western culture was just too overpowering. Instead of living in a cabin with no electricity, we decided to bring electricity to us. Digging the trench was the first step to getting it. And, unfortunately, that meant I had to work in order for it to come. Gasp.





2 comments:

runnermonkey said...

Yeah, I agree. Sweaty Sausage + Sauna = no good. Nice pic of your bro doing what men do best: pee standing. I'm impressed with your Anti-American sentiments after only 5 weeks in the land of your forefathers...truly inspiring. I met your old neighbor from Hawaii up in Kirtland last weekend. She's on a mission right now. I don't remember her name though. Sister something...

Kevin said...

There's nothing like returning to your homeland. Thanks for keeping us up-to-date. I love the pictures, especially of the non-traditional sunset pictures. Koko, you'll have stay true to your name and build a kokko for us all to see. I promise I'll be impressed.

Just curious: did you mean to write "draught" in your title? Or did you mean "drought"?