Saturday, July 30, 2011

Strawberry Ice Cream

Free late night Savonlinnan internet found! It's located in the hotel Seurahuone and it's on the bottom level in the corner and it's completely free. I am of course not staying here but I pulled the foreigner card by speaking to the reception in English who then either assumed I'm staying at the hotel or more likely just doesn't care that I'm using the internet.

Last night I spent picking up cans. I walked around with two grocery bags and when I saw beer cans and cider cans I picked them up, emptied them, and put them in my bag. After a while my bag started to stink and it started to make me sort of nauseous, but luckily at that point I had probably about 5 euros under my belt and felt good enough to quit.

Tomorrow I go to Russia. I am excited about this. I also don't care. I have found through traveling that most places are pretty much the same. Finland is essentially Minnesota albeit with people speaking in a barbaric tongue and dancing like polar bears standing on their hind legs.

Cuba is essentially Florida except with a dictator, tons of Russian cars, buildings in ruins, lots and lots of extremely poor people, and absolutely no American influence. So I guess the analogy breaks down. What I mean to say is that you build up a place in your mind, like I have done with Russia, give it all sorts of mystique, and then you get there and you realize it's like a lot of other places. There's people going to work, there's waiters out having cigarettes on their 10 minute breaks, there's rich people having coffee, there's homeless people begging. Some of the customs change and the money changes and the language might change, but most places are essential the same. Most places.

Tonight is my last night in Savonlinna. I am celebrating by eating everything in my fridge and also taking myself out for ice cream. I love that term "taking yourself out". It sounds so nice. What it really means is that I have no friends here. I would love to go with someone else but everyone has left. So I go by myself. I go and get a strawberry cone, hopefully successfully order in Finnish, and then sit by the water and eat it. I look at the sky on fire to the west and wonder what other people are doing. I wonder what Barry is doing at home and what my parents are doing. I wonder what my sister is doing in Africa. I wonder if I should go to Africa. I wonder if my brother is in Juneau right now flying. I wonder what kind of words my three year old niece has learned. I wonder how my twin nephews are doing. I wonder what my sister Lynn is doing. And then I finish my icecream and I walk home, and thus will have passed my last night in Finland.

The bus ride tomorrow is 8 hours long. This is because it makes lots of stops and also because going through customs is a huge hassle. You have to go through Finnish customs and then through Russian customs. The Russian part is ostensibly harder. They look at you and inspect your visa and wonder why you have a beard. They wonder why you would want to go to Russia, especially alone. They wonder why you have a skateboard strapped to your back.

The days in Finland are already getting noticeably shorter. When I get here it would still be really light right now, but now it is almost dark. And now at night it gets genuinely dark. Real dark. Night dark. The kind of dark you associate with night. This means it's time for me to start heading south. St. Petersburg is slightly south of where I am, and Moscow is slightly south of that. And then maybe China and who the hell knows. I certainly don't. And I'm thankful for that.

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