Day V – 2nd July 2017 – Crazy Hitchhiking
In the morning we quickly showered (who knows when will be the next opportunity), ate breakfast and packed all our stuff. We had a simple plan: leave our spot at 10 a.m., then spent 3 hours walking to the main road, where we hoped to catch a car. We wanted to be in Ruka in the evening and it was 350 km from Sonkajarvi.
We were full of optimism as we managed to start walking before 10 o’clock, but we quickly started having doubts about reaching the main road by 1 p.m. Our backpacks were still very heavy, the 10 km road was difficult as it was going up and down all the time… And there was practically no cars! But we were lucky and after 30 minutes of walking someone stopped. He was actually going the opposite way, but when he saw our t-shirts with the Championships logo he decided to give us a lift to the main road. We couldn’t be more grateful! He told us that he was a volunteer at the race and that it’s a big day for all of the inhabitants. They wait for it whole year!
We were at the main road two hours before it was planned and 15 minutes after that, we were in another car. The driver was a young Finnish guy, our age, but he literally didn’t know a word in english. Even “yes” was confusing for him, so we used our hands and a map to communicate. We drove in complete silence for 40 minutes and he left us where we agreed would be the best.
As soon as he drove away leaving us behind, another car has stopped. Next 30 km we spent with a Finnish couple, who were our parents age and their english was very good. We told them about our journey and talked a bit. They left us in Kajaani – we already hitchhiked 100 km and it wasn’t lunch time yet!
The next driver picked us up after 15 minutes and we started to believe that Finnish people are actually very friendly to hitchhikers. We drove next 70 km with this bold bisnesman in his expensive, comfortable car – so comfortable that Dominika fell asleep!
The place where he left us was full of mosquitoes and even though we are used to them, this was crazy. They were everywhere. To survive we undertook a technique: Max was standing as usual with a sheet of paper (we had written “Ruka” on it) and Dominika was dancing around him to chase off mosquitoes. Fortunately we were lucky again and someone stopped after 15 minutes. This 40 years old guy was so excited that we were going to National Park, that he even gave us a present – a handkerchief for glasses.
From the place he have left us we had approximately 160 km to our destination. Slowly minutes passed and no one showed up. We were standing on the side of the road, we had a forest behind our backs and a solitude self-service gas station in front. That meant we were totally alone. We were slowly losing hope that anyone would stop to pick us up. We also had no idea where would we sleep if it turned out we had to spend a night here. After hour and a half we both had headache from standing in the sun. Only after another hour we managed to catch someone’s attention. But it wasn’t just a car! It was a camper! Young couple from Germany was going to Kuusamo – 25 km from our destination. Perfect!
The Germans told us their story. They were 26-27 years old and they decided to buy a camper for 15 thousand euro and travel in it for half a year in the North. They lived totally stress free life with the money they managed to save. We were captivated by their story and they were by ours. As we were getting further reindeers started showing in the roadside. One of them tried killing us and thank God for the German girl reflex (it was her turn to drive now) we managed to avoid collision. Everything fell down from the shelves, but we were fine. It was good to spend those 2 hours with them. After arriving in Kuusamo we all did some shopping together and they gave us a lift 10 km further, where they were heading to a campsite. We took a picture together and said goodbye.
Zostało nam 15 km do celu, ale już pół godziny po pożegnaniu się z Niemcami byliśmy w Ruce. Podrzuciła nas tam starsza para, która jak nam wyjaśniła, miała zasadę, aby każdego dnia robić jedną dobrą rzecz dla innych – dzisiaj było to dla nich podwiezienie nas do Ruki.
We had only 15 km left to Ruka and half an hour after the Germans drove away we were there! The last rescue was a couple, who told us they did one good thing for someone every day. That day it was giving us a lift to Ruka (even though it wasn’t quite the place they were going to). Ruka is a little town – it is the most famous Finnish ski resort. The resort centre is small – couple of hotels, shops, bar and a tourist information. Can you imagine there was still snow on one of the slopes?! It was 2nd of July!
We didn’t have to look far for a place to sleep. Have you ever slept on a ski slope during a polar day, where – in the middle of the summer – snow was still on the ground?