Ghosts cats and men walking pit bulls–that was my night. Oh, and it was cold.
But sleeping under a bush tends to be that way.
Before I was even drowsy, a grey, gauzy shape ran behind a tree and never reappeared. (Later, Cavan told me a spectral, cat-sized creature had crept up to his pack. Either we both saw the same thing or he was delusional from the cold–or he was dreaming about the time we once dozed on a trail and a raccoon attacked us. I, of course, was completely lucid). I dozed on my watch just the once–only to be startled awake by a man walking his giant of a dog straining to break its leash and eat us. The man only glanced briefly our way, though. Gave us a strange look, did nothing.
Cavan, kind and loving man that he is, woke me up an hour after my second watch was supposed to start. It was 5 am and frigid; we decided that it was too cold to stay in one place, so we went in search of hot food. The streets were pale and blurred by dawn and empty except for a man passing by, collecting cans from the garbage, while Cavan gave a pink church and its rosebushes a steamy dose of nitrogen (apparently in view of the security camera).
After a fruitless search for warm food (and warmth in general), we wandered back to the bus station. At 6 am, the bus arrived, cozy and ready to take us to Sweden.
Now, we didn’t know this until after the fact, but it’s a good trick: as there’s no border crossing between countries in the Schengen Area (a pact of twenty-five countries that acts like a single state for international travel–that’s more or less how Wikipedia explains it, anyway), you might wonder how to know you’ve entered Sweden. Well. It’s easy. Just look for the red buildings. Seriously. In the countryside of Sweden there must some sort of law that says ‘if it has walls, you paint it red.’
To amuse ourselves on the bus ride to Luleå (which took much long than anticipated), we tried guessing why the hel everything was red. Were the crimson buildings actually winter’s land-bound lighthouses? Or was everything red because Sweden has a surplus of lingonberries (and thus red-dyed-paint)?
Our last guess was..kind of right. The paint’s called Falu red, originally made from copper mined in central Sweden (also rye flour, water and linseed oil, though none of these were mined–surprise). The red paint’s cheapness and ability to preserve wood made it the go-to hue for quite a few years.
We rode the bus to Luleå , where we spoke to a Swedish couple who put my blue eyes to shame, then ate lunch. Finally. Up until that point, all we’d had was half a banana, half a cliff bar and a few sunflower seeds each. The food was expensive and..vague (we ate at a sport’s bar offering a bland mix of various ethnic cuisines), which is actually a good, general description of Sweden so far. Pricey, with very little concrete information about anything (especially compared to Finland, which has lots of information about everything). So instead of spending too much money in a city we didn’t really want to spend any more time in, we took another 14 hour train ride, this time to Stockholm.
(Day 7 poem)
You can make red paint
from mutton blood, lingonberries
to craft an inland lighthouse.