Ok so we’ve been in Finland for right around a month, which I believe, is the longest I have ever spent outside the United States. Except for those years when we lived in the Democratic Republic of California or the time we lived in Florida, well at least when we lived in the “Keys”.
This is for sure the most time I have spent in a foreign country. Except if you add up all the time I spent in Canada in my youth, but that would be silly because Canada is attached and therefore does not count as an actual foreign country. They don’t even speak a different language in Canada, well, except for the ones who speak French, but come on they’re Canadian French. Sorry, I mean “French Canadian” because to French people “French” must always come first or they will get very, very snooty with you. Well, in France they will get snooty with you. French Canadians will get outright indignant, even angry with you if they feel you have slighted their linguistic heritage. But come on, they’re French and Canadian how scary can they be? They’re main weapon is frozen French bread which at worst will get crumbs all over you. It cannot actually hurt you. That is, unless you try to actually eat the stuff. It is the hardest bread I have ever encountered. The hardest bread I have ever encountered before living in Finland.
|A Finn doing what a Finn does; sitting outside drinking coffee|
There are so many different kinds of bread here, most of which looks like the stuff that you see being torn off and eaten angrily by people in movies set in the Middle Ages. There is one type of dark bread here that is served with every meal, which is made from dough that comes from a root. These roots are centuries old and are passed down in families from one generation to the next. It’s like that fruitcake that one of your ancestors gave to another one of your ancestors that nobody has dared eat and thus has been getting re-gifted for centuries. Except people in Finland eat this bread. In fact, they love this bread. They love it so much in fact, that if you find a Finn living in the US you can bend them to your will by the mere suggestion that you may be able to get them some of this bread. If you had an unlimited supply of the stuff and enough Finnish ex-pats you could have your very own zombie army. They would be unstoppable. Provided, of course, that there were no bars or coffee shops along the way.
|Ice. Below which is more ice, but it sure is pretty|
Yes, the Finns do love to drink. It may be booze, beer, wine, cider or some unholy combination of them all, but not always. A lot of the time those cups in their frozen little hands holds nothing more than coffee. And it’s not just for breakfast anymore. Its also for those hours in between when a person wakes up and when they go to bed. Coffee here is like some sort of magical elixir. Jittery? Have some coffee. Can’t sleep? Have some coffee. Sleep too much? Have some coffee. Hungry, tired, cold, thirsty. Awake. These are all good reasons for a Finn to have a cup of steaming hot coffee. In fact the Finns drink more coffee than anyone else on the planet. In Finland pregnant women are encouraged to try and limit their coffee intake to only 18 gallons a day.
Military service is mandatory in Finland for citizens 18 to 20-something years old. The Finns maintain an armed fighting force just in case someone threatens their coffee supply.
|These people are sitting in the middle of a frozen bay. Fishing.|
Which begs the question; are the fish that good or are the
wives that mean?
The love of and need for piping hot coffee in Finland is easily understood when you consider that, well, its really, really cold here in the winter and the winter lasts a really, really long time. It is March 30th today and it snowed last night. A measurable amount. Except nobody measures the snowfall because they just don’t care anymore.
|Yours truly walking on water.|
There has been so much snow here this winter that people have not only forgotten what the ground looks like, they have forgotten what their feet look like. Do you remember that storm this past winter that shut down the east coast of the United States? They called it “Snowmageddon” or something like that. In Finland, a storm like that is called Tuesday. The Helsinki airport has only been closed one time in its history. For only twenty minutes and probably only because the plow truck drivers ran out of coffee and had to make more. Children here do not get off of school for snow. The city does not grind to a halt when they get an inch on the ground. Or a foot. Or Godzilla sized snowdrifts capable of swallowing city buses whole. When a father tells his kids, “when I was your age I had to tunnel through the snow up hill in both directions to get to school” the kids just respond with “yeah? So did we. Yesterday”.
These people are tough (though it is rumored that if the temperature gets above 80·F they could spontaneously combust).
(bet you thought I was gonna say, "baby")
As weird as it may sound, though, I actually really like this weather. Cold and snowy in Finland, I don’t know, just seem right somehow. It makes sense. It brings out the inner survivor. The air is clean and crisp and lets you know you’re alive. The snow crunches underfoot satisfyingly and the ice keeps you balanced and on your toes. Every blast of arctic wind is like a challenge and the sunshine is like a warm embrace. Sure it’s cold, but this is Finland, dammit!
Which is why tomorrow morning Mixo and I will be on a plane winging our way to southern Spain. We will be shedding our layers and peeling off the long johns and heading to Madrid where we will pick up a rental car and drive down to Jerez for the second round of this season’s MotoGP circus.
As the first European stop Jerez is one of the most well attended GP’s on the calendar and the Spanish fans are notoriously rabid about motorsport. And Klaus und Hammer will be there to experience all the action and share it with you thanks to our hard earned clout within and importance to the international motorcycle racing community. Actually, we are fortunate enough to have been around this sport for long enough that we have come to know and be friends with some really good people who through their hard work and dedication were able to help us out. I would like to issue a public thanks, but am contractually obligated to not hurt their reputation by association. Regardless, I would like to say from the bottom of my heart and with all truth and seriousness, “I sure hope we don’t fuck this up”.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next time.