Day II – 29th June 2017 – Hichhiking with Afghan family
The first night in a tent wasn’t the best. It was cold and damp. Our „campsite” was 200 m from railway tracks – each train announced itself loudly. In the morning we ate our first breakfast there – pumpernickel bread with hummus and some kabanos (sausage). We drank tea (the portable oven worked!) and began our sightseeing in Iisalmi.
The first place we visited was a supermarket, but we didn’t go shopping – instead, we used lockers to hide our staff. That was a great idea, as it saved our back more than once. The first tourist attractions were: museum of brewing and museum of post stamps. Well that would be enough about them, because it wasn’t much of a deal.
Then we went to Kuappi – the smallest restaurant in the world. Apparently it has only 8 m2 and still fits kitchen and two tables with chairs. We didn’t get the chance to check it by ourselves, because it was closed, but from outside it really looked just like a garden shed. Luckily it was an end to our disappointments this day. We headed to a museum of local history, which was an outdoor museum – we went from cabin to cabin and learned how XIX century people lived in this area. Small, wooden houses, room with fireplace in which the whole family lived (even the animals!), they even had a sauna and a windmill!
We also visited modern art museum, which we chose mainly because of free entrance.
After museums and art we switched to sacral facilities. Orthodox church and a Christian church were located approximately 500 m across from one another. The Christian church didn’t stand out, we couldn’t even go inside. But in the Orthodox church there was a young women, who approached us as soon as we came in and told us the history of this place (of course in english). It was build in Russia, but brought here after II World War – likewise many of the residents. The local Orthodox community is still very big. The frescos were also untypical, as they were made in mediterranean style.
After sightseeing we made a short brake. An important task was awaiting us – we had to transport to Sonkajarvi, in which the famous Wife Carrying Championship took place. We had only 20 km to Sonkajarvi, but we have never before traveled as hitchhikers, so it was supposed to be a trial. We ate lunch in Subway, sunbathed for a while on a beach (we even tried to swim in the lake, but the water was so cold, that only Finnish children were brave enough to do it) and we went North.
Our 40- minutes walk (until the main road, where we wanted to catch an occasion) was interrupted by odd attraction. In the city centre we saw masks hanged on trees. They started to howl each time someone passed them! It wasn’t Halloween yet, so it felt seriously weird… perfect moment to leave this town behind.
The walk took us longer than we expected. Our backpacks were heavy, we were tired and the beautiful shining sun was now covered by clouds. We took a very short break to visit the local cemetery (no idea why, but their difference from polish ones, fascinated us).
Finally on the main road we started our first challenge. None of us has ever tried hitchhicking and we didn’t even know what scared us more – the idea of traveling with complete strangers or the fact that no one would stop to give us a lift. We also read that Finnish people aren’t very keen to cooperate in this kind of transport.
Dark clouds started appearing on the sky, which terrified us, because couple of hours ago the sun was shining bright and know it looked like it could start raining any minute. The traffic wasn’t big, but we were lucky – after 15 minutes a car has stopped. It was a family going exactly to Sonkajarvi. As soon as we got in the car, it started raining. No, it wasn’t a drizzle, it was a real downpour! If our new friends hadn’t arrived, we would soon be soaked wet. Unfortunately we didn’t talk with them much. Mother and her two sons escaped from Afghanistan and they practically didn’t know english, even though they’ve lived in Finland for a few years. The 20-minute ride passed on listening to Middle East music accompanied by raindrops.
When we got to Sonkajarvi the family left us exactly where the run took place. It was getting late, so we started looking for a place to spend the night. Although the rain has stopped, we couldn’t find any place to put up a tent. We came back to where we started – the arena of the competition, but we came from a different direction and found a competition office. Nice lady told us that we can sleep near the arena. She even showed us our spot and told us where the showers and bathrooms were – we didn’t have to pay, because we were participating in the run! All around us there were many campervans. We couldn’t be happier! We put up a tent, used the showers and even charged phones, then made some supper and went to sleep.