Friday, June 15, 2012


I am so happy to be in Åland.  It is exactly the kind of tranquil place I hoped it would be.  Actually it is even more tranquil, but that's about to change because the afternoon ferries are just getting in.  And these are no ordinary ferries.  These are cruise ships.  These make the Bainbridge Seattle ferries look like kayaks.

A lot has happened in the last 36 hours.  It turns out he is a benevolant God and has delivered me safely from the sheep farm.  When I finally achieved independence, when Matt and I parted ways and I drove his car back from the mechanic to the bus stop where he would pick it up later, it took several minutes for my new-found freedom to set in.  At first I just sat in the car, breathing heavily and silently pumping my fist.  And then I hit the highway, putting the windows down, blasting the radio, and seeing how his Citröen performed at 130 km/hr.  And then I started to scream.  "Freedom!" I shouted not unlike a young Mel Gibson.  And then I slowed down, made to the gas station, ate a meal of mashed potatoes and beef patties in gravy with a huge glass of COW'S milk and no mutton to be found anywhere in the immediate vicinity, and got on the bus.  And now I am here in Åland, an archiepelago between Finland and Sweden that is entirely Swedish speaking and doesn't even have Finnish on the streets signs.  I am ever so slightly easing my way out of Finland.  Maybe the shock would be too much for me if I just up and left.

Of course, as has been a theme for this trip, I currently have no idea where I'm staying.  I was offered a place by a girl on couchsurfing but she doesn't get off work till 10pm, has multiple facial piercings, a partially shaved head, and looks like she could beat me up.  But the other alternative is to pay around 100 dollars for a hotel.  I say I don't want to do this, but I actually really do.  I want privacy and solitude.  I want nothing more than to wander the quiet leafy streets of Mariehamn, main city in Ålando, well into the sunset and explore beaches and find food and not have to answer to anyone but myself.  Sometimes I can be a bit of a high maintencance traveler.  But I can also be low-maintencance.  I lived with a guy who seemed to derive great satisfaction from making me drive wooden posts into hard ground and who consistently played World of Warcraft in the afternoons for four days, after all.  So I think it's OK if I splurge for a night.  And maybe a night in Stockholm, too.

There is instantly a traffic jam before my very eyes.  An ambulance just drove by.  The tourists have brought chaos.  I just got done explaining to the ladies who work at the tourist agency that I also come from an island, and that every year it fills up with tourists, and I hate them.  "And now you're a tourist," they said.
"Yes," I said, and sighed and went to go use the internet.

It is beautiful here!  Beautiful!  The sun is shining and there are boardwalks on sloping rocks along the beach and plenty of coast to explore.  But first this tourist must find a hotel.  

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