As the Romans do

Trip Start Aug 08, 2006
Trip End Oct 08, 2006

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Flag of Finland  ,
Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ten hours more in a ship from Mariehamn, some tax-free shopping for cheap vodka (one never knows when it might be needed) and huge chocolate bars and then I was in Helsinki. I could only catch a glimpse of the city, as I needed to find out how to get to the meeting and then be on the train station at 15h15 to leave with the first group of people. After a train, a bus and an one-kilometer walk, we reached the cottage, surrounded by forest and some lakes, one of which had been the stage for some campers murders and nicknamed 'the killer lake'.
Then we got our identification badges (much needed when you have over sixty people that don't know each other) and more people started to arrive. At first I was introducing myself to every new person, but I was soon forced to give it up, as more and more people were always arriving. It was hopeless anyway to try to remember everyone, and in the end of the meeting I was still seeing some new faces.
Some hours of good talking, warm beer (no way to cool them), dinner, and then for some 'Finnish-style' fun :), starting with a game of treasure stealing. You don't usually expect anything good out of a game where dozens of drunk people are sent to a really dark and wet forest (some with flashlights, some without) to fight opposing teams and try to steal their treasure, but somehow it worked out quite nicely and, belive me or not, was fun (I lost both my glass and my badge in a nasty fight, though).
Of course the Finnish fun was not over yet when we gathered around the campfire, the best part was still to come... At some point between one and two in the morning, Tomi, the Finnish guy I had hosted in Rio, invited me to join him in the sauna, and I couldn't miss the opportunity to participate in the tradition, which goes more or less like this: a lot of (naked) people gather in a small room with oven-heated rocks and stay there in an almost burning atmosphere that makes it hard to even breath (and never mind that Finnish girl complaining the sauna is too cold), and then whip themselves in the back with birch foliage. After that, you are supposed to refresh yourself in a lake, but our nearest was the killer lake one kilometer away, so what to do? As the saying (almost) goes, 'when in Finland, do as the Romans do', and the Roman guy's suggestion was (obviously): 'let's go anyway!' And so it was that a group of some six or so naked people went running one kilometer in a quite chilly (for Brazilian standards) night, hurting their feet on the small stones that covered the road through the forest, to swim under an exceedingly beautiful night sky.
The next day's hiking and swimming in two lakes, one of them of very clear water, were also excellent, but of course, not comparable to the previous day's experience. You have to love Finland once you are here. :)
Preparing to go to Tampere now...
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tenetsi on

Brave Brazilian
I must be proud of you because you survived such a culture shock weekend just like a true finn. It was very nice to meet you again now in Finland and drink, run in a forest and have sauna with you. Enjoy your trip and see in two weeks.

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