Farewell Inari

It has been two weeks already since I left the frozen ground of Finnish Lapland. I would be a liar to say that coming back in France had been easy. After such an experience I think everyone would need to take a little bit of time in order to get used to city life again. Then, after two weeks of good food and good wine (French style readaptation therapy), I finally decide to write this blog post, kind of a conclusion of this nordic adventure. Procrastination, I overcame! ;)

On november 17th, I am taking the plane to Inari, Finland. This place is not unknown to me as I already spent a night in its camping last summer. Even if I did not remember Finland as a breathtaking place, I really wished to have another experience in this country, but this time during winter. Once in the plane, I am not really sure what I can expect. The only thing I know is that I will work in a farm and that up there temperature can be cold, very cold. This is not really a problem for me as I pretty much like cold and my brain has already began to create its own trip. These ideas are of course pretty far from reality but, even if I know this, I let him do anyway and enjoy this imaginary adventure. This little oneiric world which adapts as we go along discoveries, this fanciful universe varying over the course of experiences, even if it sometimes lead to disappointments, is one of the things I like the most when I am traveling. There is no way I will deprive myself of it.

I remember the first moments when I am told that I can take care of a little herd of sledding dogs if I want to. I have always been dreaming of working with animals and dogs are probably the best ones if you want to easily develop a complicity relationship. I am pleased and quickly notice that these dogs are not only lovely but also that I will have to take care of nine little sharp-teethed monsters that barely went out of their mother’s belly… quickly followed by three more (from another mother) … and then one more. Which makes a total of 9 + 3 + 1 + 17 adult dogs = 30 dogs!

The same mates are the one which give me the necessary strength and courage to work in the polar cold every morning. They are not the only ones though. Here, human warmth is inversely proportional to external temperature. I quickly notice that among this team of travellers from all around the world a great team spirit prevails. Only a little bit of time will be required until we altogether, “employers” and “employees”, call ourselves a family. A united family whatever how old we are or wherever we come from. A few days ago, or maybe a few weeks ago, nobody had any idea of the existence of each other and now we have become buddy-buddy. There is something magical and utopian in it, but it remains a shared feeling among this little community. We then enjoy every single moment together, but also support each other during the tough times. Because there are tough times. People come here, then leave. The adventure does not last forever and the more you get close to people, the most difficult it is when the moment has come. “This is a bit like a member of the family dies” we used to say, half-kidding… In such moments, we usually tend to think about the good old times, even if the good times are not so far away. But family spirit remains alive and makes these moments easier. Life goes on, good moments as well.

The closer the deadline, the quicker time flies. Then, a few weeks before the inevitable day of the return flight, I am proposed to go to Gamvik, in the top of Norway, to take care of three “house huskies” and two “crazy horses”. I accept without hesitation and am suddenly starting a whole new adventure. Work is easier. However, I have never felt so wild. After two months working with dogs, I must admit that my working suit has become quite smelly. Furthermore, I have to sleep with these three smelly-hairy creatures — yes, these dogs used to sleep with their lady-master before they came here, which meant that I had to do it if I did not want to find the house upside down in the morning :) –. I quickly get caught up in it and the animal part of me becomes more and more prominent. I have become the dog man. However, the kindness of the people of Gamvik coming to discuss with me, even if some of them do not know a word of english, let me keep the feeling that even if I smell dog and am covered with their hair, I am still a human. I am still part of the same species!

Days are going by peacefully under the light of an ever setting sun on this paradisiac place. I enjoy every single moment as if it was the last (Gandhi, if you hear me!)… until the inevitable day I am told that it is now time for me to come back to Inari if I want to have a chance to catch this darned return flight. Reality catches me up and it is now my turn to leave the family. I can instantly see myself in the same plane that brought me to a whole new adventure in Northern Europe three months ago. I am having hard time realising that this great human experience is now over until I get into the plane, but Nostalgia overcomes as soon as it takes off. I feel happy I had the chance to live this fantastic experience along with these strangers, these friends, this family. I have lived marvellous moments which will definitely be carved in my mind for eternity. Farewell Inari, thank you Finnish family!

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