“Oh my, this is going to be a long trip” I soliloquized as I adjusted car seat to a comfortable position, in readiness for a solo night drive to the south, 939km to be precise. As I pulled out of the car park, I knew the deal was sealed. It was a point of no return “Uusimaa here I come” I encouraged myself. Did I say night drive? I wonder if that even makes a difference; in Lapland, darkness has gone into recess until the fall. For a road trip, this is a blessing, as the rays of sunlight keeps checking on you to make sure you stay awake, more so for someone who comes from that part of the world where the day and the night have a fixed roster. As I was getting lost in my thoughts, behold a herd of reindeer freely and carelessly moving about in the middle of the road. “These silly animals, they behave as if they pay road tax,” I thought to myself, smiling. I started hooting, as I got impatient with their boring game of wasting tax payers’ time. Interestingly, annoying as these creatures may be to road users, they add so much beauty to nature. Funny right? Lovely and annoying at the same time! By this time, traffic had built up, and just in front of me I saw other road users taking pictures of these reindeers, smiling and seemingly talking about their annoying behavior. This can be a long story. Suffice to say I met a couple more reindeer before leaving the countryside. The whole trip lasted for twelve hours and I was in Espoo at 04:30am.

I am definitely not used to so much traffic, so many people, so many buildings…so many everything. What would you expect from a Sodankylä dweller, where population is barely above 8 000 people! The week went so fast as it was filled with lots of school work, not forgetting good chunk of time spent losing myself in traffic; all roads appeared exactly the same to me. Thanks to GPS I could find my way around. I love nature and can only stand city life for so long, so I was so delighted when I started driving back North, though not that far North. The destination this time was Hämeenlinna for a kesäpaivät event organized by Finnish-Zambia Association (FinZam). I was anxious as I could not wait to meet the entire FinZam executive board. “These are extraordinary times,” I thought to myself. I mean, COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, not sure for how long it will stay like this. Imagine, this was going to be first time to meet all the board members in one place. We had only met through zoom more than 8 times in 4 months. “Are we going to click in person as we have done so through online meetings?” I asked myself.

“Wow, wow, so much beauty in the middle of nowhere” I exclaimed as I drove through what looked like endless thick forest, occasionally smelling the freshness of the lake a stone-throw away from the gravel road. So much peace, I could feel am in the right place – my spirit synchronized with nature right away. Driving around the cabins towards designated car park, I could see some of the board members already on site waiting. I lost track of time from the moment I met the amazing board members to the time I started driving back to Lapland after a 48hrs of fun – it was so electric ‘teti infilondolole bwino..’ translated as ‘I cannot explain it well.’ The night was young; we started to braai as more board members arrived. It’s a crime not to think of sauna in such a set up – I mean we camped right in front of vast expanse of water body whose horizon seamlessly perpetuated into the blue skies. It felt as though the calmness of the lake was telling us ‘welcome home, relax and enjoy’. From that time on, time itself became jealousy; two hours were compressed to twenty minutes. How could you possibly explain alternating between sauna and swimming in the still lake throughout the night until 5am? How was that possible? The fun had just started. It was impossible not to notice the overwhelming joy and happiness clearly printed on the faces of board members as we met the amazingly extraordinary FinZam community. “What a beautiful family we are …” I murmured.  More exciting things were to follow in the next twenty-four hours. The day was filled with activities like, horse ridding, mini-golfing, cultural dances, scrabble and other games. There was so much positive energy, everyone was so happy.

For the first time, we had a face to face meeting as FinZam executive board – need I say more, I don’t want to let go of that moment in my mind…