A moment lived in Norway by Christie, a traveller from USA

Have you ever sung in the shower before? How did you feel? For me, I feel like I’m not trying to impress anyone. I am just singing because there is something I need to get out of my system. It’s pure expression of how I’m feeling and in a way, who I am. Now imagine you had some watching you, listening to you as you sung in the shower (let’s say for this you are wearing a bathing suit). That is the closest description I can think of to describe a ‘joik.’
Let me back up. In mid March 2016 I went on a solo trip to Tromsø, Norway, an island town with a population of 70,000 in the arctic circle. I stayed at a little bed and breakfast on the side of hill overlooking the city below. I ate waffles every morning (and on some evenings). My mission was to see the Northern Lights, get a selfie with some reindeer, and go skiing in fjords. Well, fortunately enough I did get to do all of those things, but I brought back with more with me than just a selfie while visiting the reindeer.

The sun was shining and the temperature was just above freezing when I arrived at the Sami reindeer farm in the fjords of nearby Tromsø. The Sami I should explain, are the indigenous people of Lapland -the arctic region of Finland, Sweden, and Norway. They have their own language, and own unique culture. For years they have been a nomadic society, living from the land and on the reindeer, letting nothing go to waste. Most Sami people these days have normal jobs and houses like any other person, but 10% are still reindeer herders. For them, it’s not a necessity, but a lifestyle they’re endeavouring to preserve against the tide of the 21st century.

The farm was a field covered in snow, surrounded by water and the mountains of the fjords. After feeding the reindeer, taking a short sleigh ride, and of course getting many selfies. The group of visitors strolled into the lavvu (a kind of Sami tipi) to warm up and sample some reindeer stew. The in the center of the lavvu was a roaring fire with steaming kettles hung over it by iron rods. Surrounding the fire were wooden benches strewn with reindeer pelts. When we were seated, Eidnár (a tall young man with big fuzzy fur hat) and Jaská (a slightly older woman with fiery red hair) joined us. Both were wearing their traditional bright blue Sami clothing,

After explaining some Sami history Eidnár started to talk about joiking. Every Sami has their own individual joik, or song. One might compare to yodelling or a native American chant, with no ending. By listening to someone’s joik, you can tell what kind of person they are. Some have happy, boisterous joiks, others have longing, soft joiks. To share your joik with someone is to honor them, and it is equally an honor to hear it. Eidnár soon announced that he would share his joik with us. But asked that we not take any videos. This joik was for inside this lavvu only he said, not for the internet or youtube. He sang for a minute or two, with his hand clutching his chest and his eyes closed. It was like he had shared a deep part of himself with us.

Soon after we left the farm, and I had some time to reflect on the experience. The cynical side of me thought maybe this guy Eidnár just didn’t like the idea of a video of him singing floating around cyberspace. Then I considered more carefully and realized maybe he genuinely thought of his joik for us a private moment, one that he wanted to keep to himself. We are a part of this world where everyone posts everything on the internet. Whether it’s the moment you get engaged to be married, the meal you just ate, or a selfie with a reindeer trying to show off how adventurous you are. Maybe we shouldn’t share everything. Maybe when we share our most cherished moments with everyone, a part of what makes them special, because they are just ours, gets taken away. We live in a world where you can google anyone and in a few minutes know their life story. Maybe it’s time to add a little mystery to things again. So when people ask you “how was your trip to that exotic place?” you can tell them a story they don’t already know.

credit photo : Christie

Pura Vida

A moment lived in Costa Rica by A-Lotta-Travelling, a traveller from Finland

On a recent trip to Costa Rica we learned the phrase Pura Vida in the arrivals hall at the airport.

It’s a phrase all locals use and it translates to Pure Life. We started throwing the words around for fun while there, but it wasn’t until one of the last nights of our two-week holiday that I truly understood the meaning of those words.

During our trip we were travelling around Costa Rica and Bocas del Toro in Panama and we saw some of the most beautiful turquoise water with white sand beaches in the world. We experienced real jungles and ticked off seeing countless different species of animals, snakes and birds during the trip. Everything was extraordinarily beautiful and we experienced so many things. We also travelled a lot on shaky buses and never stayed in one place for more than two nights. I think it was because of this that I didn’t reach a full level of immersion until the very last stop of our trip.

What made the last stop of our trip on the Pacific side of Costa Rica so magical was the local experience we got to have. We had booked a very last minute Airbnb, and the host came to pick us up from the bus station. He was a few minutes late and still had salt water dripping from his hair when we stuffed our bags around his surfboard in the pickup truck. Our host was the literal humanisation of the phrase Pura Vida. He was so relaxed, only did things in life he enjoyed and really didn’t seem to have a care in the world. It suited him well, he could have passed for a 25 years old, when he really had 20 more years on his back.

Our host, let’s call him M, took us to our quaint Airbnb room and casually mentioned he was going back to the beach if we wanted to join him. This then turned in to him offering to take us on a boat ride to see more of the beautiful coast. We left shore around 3 pm and slowly puttered in his fishing boat around the water. He showed us the exquisite hidden mansions of Michael Jordan and other celebrities and we stopped at a hidden beach for a quick dip in the turquoise waters. We continued on to another beach with an amazing cave with surging waves within it and crabs running around the beach. We climbed to the top of a cliff on a beach and took in the views. During all this time M was telling stories of the life of locals and how he as kid grew up learning all the nooks and crannies of every beach and cave inside and out.

When we headed back towards the harbour the sun was just setting and we were sitting in silence moving with the waves. At this moment in time I felt a deeper sense of relaxation and happiness than I’ve ever felt before. I was calm and content with myself and I was taking in the beautiful views to a higher level than before. It felt like I was truly understanding the beauty of everything around me, and I really felt like there was nothing else than that moment.

I was very lucky to achieve this sense of transformation, as it truly was the cherry on top to an already amazing trip. During the stormy and rainy days in Ireland, I can just close my eyes and easily float back to that time on the boat and just go back to feeling that level of relaxation and happiness again. Until I open my eyes and I see the grey and rainy sky again, that is. Yet, I still have a smile on my face.

This traveler has a travel blog : Lotta

credit photo : A-Lotta-Travelling


A moment lived in Germany by A-Lotta-Travelling, a traveller from Finland

Memories are a peculiar thing. Sometimes the smallest things such as a familiar smell bring back the strongest memories and emotions.

I lived in Kreuzberg, Berlin between the age of 3 to 5, back in 1993-95. My dad worked for a company that was relocated to Germany, and at scarce times after the recession in the early nineties my parents decided to move to Germany for a few years. With a newborn baby, myself and my older sister. Because, why not.

I don’t remember much from my time in Berlin, and when my parents organised for us to go back there in 2000 on a trip I was very excited but also a bit hesitant as I wasn’t sure how much I would get out of it.

When we arrived in Berlin we did some sightseeing around the usual places, and we spent a whole day revisiting our “old life”. My life back then consisted of walking between home, kindergarten and the local playgrounds, which I thought would be moderately interesting for a 10-year old me.

However, upon seeing these places something hit me. I recognised the places mostly from photos, but there was something so familiar with them at the same time. I got a wave of memories that I didn’t know I had and oddly enough I remembered the places as a home from a long time ago. It wasn’t the typical big things such as buildings and parks, but the smaller things such as the smell of a doughnut shop in a corner and an uphill road that felt so steep for me as a child. The things a three-year-old paid attention to.

Granted, a lot had changed in the neighbourhood that back in the nineties was a poorer part of town. You could still feel the strong annotations to a very recently fallen wall back then, but now it is the trendy and hipster part of Berlin. However, it was still amazing to come back to a part of my life that I thought I had forgotten about, and finding memories I didn’t know I had. It truly was a special moment in time, and I hope to be able to go back to Berlin one day and experience it again, and perhaps find some more memories in the cracks of the pavement and the swings of the playgrounds.

This traveler has a travel blog : Lotta

credit photo : A-Lotta-Travelling