Friday, June 8, 2012

Älä raavi!

I am currently sitting in the apartment of a Chilean guy who lives in the upstairs of a duplex 5km outside of the Finnish town of Jyväsklä.  Today was my last day at at the bee farm with Ari and Marja.  Marja and I made delicious meatballs made of reindeer and diced ham that I helped her to prepare.  We got fresh parsley and chives from the garden which we cut with scissors, then fried the meatballs and served them over buckwheat with tomatoes in vinegar and oil on the side.

But anyway, that's all over now.  I'm in Jyväskylä in the apartment of this Chilean guy who I barely know but who's really nice (he's one of the dudes in the 4H club who came to the farm the other day to experience Finnish farm life.  He accidentally left his jacket and today we met up so I could give it back).  We're drinking black tea and he's lamenting the lack of instructions in Spanish for the new wireless headphones he just got in the mail. He's had an interesting life.  His father abandoned him and his mother when he was little, he barely ever talks to his mother now who still lives in Santiago, he has no aunts and uncles, he's an only child, and his Finnish wife just divorced him.  Tough.  And he's unemployed.  But he doesn't seem down at all.  He seems fairly happy and carefree and in good physical shape doespite the fact that all he seems to do is play video games. He also speaks great Finnish, an area in which his lack of English has actully helped him since people are forced to speak Finnish with him instead of just switch over to English.  I just witnessed a conversation between him and his ex-mother and law dowstairs (she rents the place he lives) and was completely blown away by his fluency and comprehension.  But I guess he has lived here a few years.

In other news, three nights ago Ari and I transported almost a million bees.  We had 48 hives, each with about 20,000 bees.  And nothing between us and the bees.  No guard or protection.  No window.  No anything. Just us in the front and th bees in the back.  Luckily the bees are surprising tranquil when being transported.  First you hit them with the smoker so they think there's a forest fire and they go inside the hive.  Then once you have them in the car the engine sort of lulls them into tranquility.  They are a lot like infants in that way.  The noise of the engine is comforting (I like to think it reminds them of a really big mother bee) and the movement lulls them into a kind of daze.  When you get to your destination they crawl out groggy eyed out of the hive to look around, but they arent't looking to sting you.  they just want to check things out.

However, like an infant, as soon as you pick them up and physically move them they can get a little fussy.  And when your arm is wrapped around the entrance of the hive youre carrying things can get a little messy. At the third site we visited I was carrying one hive when all the sudden I felt the horrible flap of insect wings against my bare skin.  Immediately I knew that a bee had worked its way inside my glove and was now trying to get out and panicking.  When bees panic they sting, which is exactly what this one did, forcing its stinger into the straining muscle of my forearm. And instead of being able to just swat the bee off and run off into the woods screaming and lighting my hair on fire I was forced to gently put the box down, walk away from the hives, and then take off my glove before removing the stinger.  But by then it was too late.  The venom was in me.  And for the last two days my arm has looked like a balloon.

So I'm not as immune to bee stings as I thought.  One day Ari said "Mark was born to be a beekeeper.  I've never seen someone more naturally resistant." and  I basked in this praise until I realized there are a lot of factors with stings and I got a little bit lucky with the sting in the neck.  If the stinger goes into a muscle or a vein or deeper or stays in for longer, the results can be a lot worse.  And though I was a little sad to leave the farm, I have no problems with leaving the bees.  I will be fine if I never see the inside of a hive again.  I don't intend to be a beekeeper.  I'll stick with the animals that don't sting you like cats and dogs and chickens.

The Chilean is now playing some kind of online game with his cousin who lives in Norway.  The amount of tenchnology in his room is amazing. He's got a big screen TV and two laptops and his new state of the art headphones.  The sun is shining outside and tonight I'll meet the two Finnish girls I'm staying with who are also hosting an Argentinian couple for the night.  And then tomorrow I go to the coast to work on a sheep farm.  I'm ready to go home.  I wish I could just get on a plane to Seattle right now, but my plane doesn't leave Stockholm until the 18th. But for now I can enjoy this beautiful Finnish afternoon and the fact that the sun will shine until late.  And I have a temporary friend with whom to drink tea with and speak Spanish.

More to come soon from the coast.  Until then, älä ravi, it only makes it worse.  

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