North of the Arctic Circle

Heippa Ystävät!

I arrived in Kemijärvi this afternoon, after a fourteen-hour train trip. On the way I passed the small city of Ii, and one thing I noticed on all the street signs is that Ii is always spelled Capital-I lowercase-i, instead of with two capitals, even when on a sign where all the writing is in capitals. Guess seeing II all the time would seem odd, like two lines stuck in the middle of a sign, naked and unfinished.

The mosquitoes and flies here are BAD. I am so glad I brought bug repellant.

I am in Kemijärven Keskukirjasto, which translates to Kemijärvi Central Library. Read that as Kemijärvi Only Library. I had to sign up to use the Internet for half an hour, just like the customers do at home. I have not been able to access sähköposti (E-mail) for one week since the University On-line Computer Room was closed. I hope to come to this library over the next three days and answer some mails. I received twenty-four of them and only have time to send out this blanket travelogue as a reply.

The train ride up was so fast and smooth that I wrote postcards on the train. All of you who know how small I write will know that in order to write on a moving train that small, the train must be moving smoooothly.

I walked to Seurasaari, an island in Helsinki’s northwest, for the Juhannusjuhla celebrations. Juhannusjuhla celebrates Midsummer, and the country shuts down for three days (sometimes even longer). Helsinki was KIINI (closed) everywhere last weekend. The KOKOT (nominative plural of KOKKO, meaning bonfire) were lit all over the city and the biggest one of all was lit on Seurasaari.

I will write from Kemijärvi and you can bet a million markkaa I will NOT partake of any touristy cheesy commercialization of the north by visiting any Santa Claus toy factories and the like. Any postcards you get from Saamilääni will be of nature and the countryside, not Kris Kringle and his reindeer.

No time to proofread, my time is up!

Craig in Kemijärvi
Craig Kemijärvellä

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