On through Lapland KM: 1375


We all slept in this morning. All the windows and roof hatches in Thor have blackout covers, which makes sense if you are travelling through the land of the midnight sun – even if its only the land of the midnight twilight as it is at the moment. It was utterly peaceful last night in our little patch of the Arctic and once again the sun came out this morning, lighting up the glade where we spent the night. There are, it has to be said, a fair few mosquitos out there but they are Swedish and so have impeccable manners and none of us has been bitten.

After breakfast and a quick coffee and home-made cookie in the cafe we drove into Jokkmokk  (that’s “Yokmok” to you). Its a workay sort of place with few frills but its busy enough and clearly somewhere for passing campers to stock up with groceries and stop for lunch.

 

 

We headed for the Sami museum which was small but perfectly formed. The women at the front desk were both Sami and with their dark hair and eyes and brown skin they both had that Native American/Asiatic look which is such a contrast to the fair hair and skin that defines so many Swedes. The museum was excellent; great black and white photos and videos of Sami people riding reindeer and rolling logs down terrifyingly rapid rapids (though not at the same time obviously), and separate sections dealing with their history and lifestyle and beliefs. Its interesting that they  used to build a kind of teepee to live in, and they have bits in common with both the Inuit and Native American tribes.

There is a bit of friction between the Sami and the Swedes (apparently) and reading about how they were first taxed on the land they lived in and then told they couldn’t own any of the taxable land, you can see how the Sami were less than thrilled about being a part of Sweden, initially at least.

We had lunch in the museum too. Reindeer for me and him, Arctic char for the lady. The reindeer was in small flakes and a rich gravy, the char was grilled and also in a special sauce and it was all absolutely delicious.

 

Not so much driving today. Just 230K to a campsite in Kiruna under what the guidebook calls characteristically changeable Arctic weather. It was hot and sunny as we set off and we closed in on the most dazzling rainbow as we drove. It had more colour bands than I have ever seen and with the sun so low to the horizon it made a long shallow arch across the forest.

The clouds piled and spat rain ahead of us and eventually onto us, before clearing and then building and spattering us again. The roads are mostly amazingly good, but occasionally we all get jolted by a section that has been ridged and rutted by the freezing winters. I pulled onto a rest area at one point where a group of three people were preparing to go into the bush and pick berries. They were clearly Sami with features which almost seemed Japanese. One of them put on a full mosquito veil over her head before setting off which caused great laughter from the other two.

Eventually we pulled into Camp Ripan, a big modern camping resort with a heated outdoor pool and water slide. One of our party is particularly interested in that. It is now ten thirty pm but outside it could be late afternoon. P and I were even contemplating setting off for a walk, though are bodies are telling us that actually it is much later than it looks. Tomorrow we head closer to the Norwegian border – still heading north.
Categories: Up to the Arctic

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