Off the beaten track – Port au Prince, Haiti

Haiti didn’t have a wonderful tourist reputation before the earthquake, and sadly now there is probably even less reason to visit Haiti.   I wanted to check it out and see if it was as bad as people said.   Especially given I have spent a lot of time in Miami, where most people have a general aversion to Haitians.   Honestly my Miami experience of Haitians was limited to taxi drivers who weren’t great drivers who didn’t know how to indicate (not an issue limited to Haitians to be honest, I find Miami drivers to be among the worst in the world), and who tried to over charge me (again, an issue for all taxi drivers).

So, I booked a flight and a hotel and then valiantly tried to sort an itinerary to see the best of Haiti.  I eventually got a response from a local tour agent, and sorted out a driver for the day.  Given many of the ‘tourist sights’ were destroyed in the earthquake, there wasn’t actually that much to see.   Things to do:

Visit the museum du pantheon

A surprisingly well curated museum with some excellent exhibitions, including some great modern art – definitely exceeded my expectations.

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See the cathedral ruins

Very interesting to walk around, and as yet unclear as to whether or not they will be rebuilding it

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Visit the iron market.

Honest confession – I hated the iron market with its art displays and voodoo.  Not based on aversion to voodoo, but because there were way too many live animals tied up on short leads and obviously malnutritioned.   It was depressing, and even if I was someone who bought souvenirs (I am not), I wouldn’t buy from anyone who was maltreating an animal – which was everyone in the market

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See the wooden architecture

There are lots of ‘gingerbread houses’ dotted around port au prince.  Most notable is the Hotel Olofsson, which you can go and wander around even if you aren’t staying there.  It was made famous by Graham Greene is is novel the Comedians.

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So what was my verdict – honestly, not a country I would put at the top of my list of potential destinations.  Without question, in my opinion, I would visit every other country in the Caribbean before visiting Haiti.  However if you happen to be in town, it is an interesting place to visit.

 

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Additional info
  • I stayed at the holiday inn express – it was fine and had a pool.  You will appreciate the pool as it is swelteringly hot in Port au prince
  • Travel around town is slow and difficult, don’t assume a short journey will be quick, and make sure you leave plenty of time to get to the airport.  Traffic is nuts, and my driver was diligent in making sure our doors were always locked.  He didn’t have a great degree of confidence in his fellow Haitians not to rob us blind
  • Take USD cash in small denominations
  • I did not head out of Port au Prince, but apparently Cap Haitien and Jacmel are interesting

Off the Beaten Track – Moldova

Honestly I thought that Moldova was a made up country, because I had mistakenly confused it with Molvania – the subject of a spoof guidebook….., so was happy to realise my mistake
Moldova is lovely.  A small and perfectly formed ex Soviet Republic with a few nice things to see, friendly people, and everything is within easy reach of the capital Chisinau (pronounced Kishi -now).
Wander around Chisinau
The town is small, really small, everything is within walking distance.  My favourite building was the bright blue St Tiron Cathedral.  Other things worth wandering past are the small Orthodox cathedral in the cathedral park.  Wander to the other side of the street from the cathedral and stroll through the other park – Stefan cel Mar.   There is also a fine arts museum if you are so inclined and some large and pretty ugly government buildings.  The lonely planet aptly describes Chisinau in lacking any ‘pulse quickening
must-sees’ and that is right, but it is pleasant enough.

St Tiron towers
St Tiron towers

St Tiron Gatehouse
St Tiron Gatehouse

Get a car and driver and head to Orheuil Vecchi
This is definitely the best thing to see in Moldova – a complex of cave monasteries carved into a massive limestone cliff.  Monks still live in the complex today and it is an active monastery so dress appropriately.  There is a lot to see, but my favourite part of this place were the other ‘tourists’, most of whom were local and quite religious.  It was fascinating to see their reverance for the monks and the monastery.
We had lunch in a local restaurant next to the monastery.  The food was astoundingly good – and included a cherry pie thing and some Mamaliga which is a bit like cornbread – delicious with sour cream and meat.  The place didn’t have a name, none of them do…. but if you have a guide am sure they will take you somewhere decent
You can get buses from Chisinau, but they are infrequent.  I rented a car and driver so I could see a bit more of the area

Caves at Orheil Vecchi
Caves at Orheil Vecchi

New Monastery at Orheil Vecchi
New Monastery at Orheil Vecchi

Visit the Monastery at Curchi
I had a lovely wander around Curchi. There wasn’t much going on until we hit one of the back churches and we stumbled on an orthodox christening.  They didn’t seem to mind an audience, I got lots of smiles.   They do take religion very seriously, and that means a serious amount of make up and some seriously high heels. (side note –  I am always feel as if I am letting kiwi girls down as I slob around the world with no make up and my flip flops but I don’t seem to care enough to dress better)
Curchi
Curchi
Additional tips
  • I was working hard and earning money when I went to Moldova so I splashed out and stayed at the Nobil Luxury Boutique Hotel.  I even got my hair cut at the salon in the hotel – that is when you know you are living dangerously when your hairdresser doesn’t share any common language with you.
  • I was really surprised at how good looking the monks were in Moldova. Really!
  • I am not much of a drinker but Moldova apparently have very good very cheap wine!  there is an enormous winery at Milestii Mici which has 200km of underground wine storage tunnels if you are thirsty
  • The food is surprisingly good, I particularly liked the Branza – which is local cheese.
  • If you fancy you can head to Transdniestr, but there is a possibility that you will get detained and hit up for bribes.  I wasn’t in the mood that day 😃
  • If you want to make friends, listen to the  Zdob și Zdub and talk about them enthusiastically when you arrive.  They were Moldova’s highest ever entry in Eurovision, and I had my ears blasted in the car with their beats wherever we went

Visited May 2014

Kungsleden day 13 – an easy stroll

I woke up to pee at 4am and was delighted to see the sun coming up! I have learnt to always take a camera on my early morning pee breaks as the light is always magical. 

abisko lake

It was a very short day today, 15km with paths that were almost groomed! The path meandered up the lake and I saw lots of fresh faced hikers coming the other way. You can tell it is their first day as they smell like shampoo and deodorant – seriously you can smell people when you have been in the wilderness for awhile. I didn’t want to think about whether or not they could smell me. It was a pretty and tranquil walk

I made it to abisko in 2.5 hours largely motivated by the thought of a big lunch. The last few miles on any long trail is always bittersweet – the upside of wifi, clean clothes, actual toilets that flush, showers and of course loved ones to look forward to offset by the disappointment that it is all over. Oh well nothing much to do but plan the next adventure.  

the end of the trail

Distance travelled =15km from abiskojaure hut to abisko fjallstation 

Total distance = 469 km from hemavan to abisko with a few detours.  I am pretty sure I could have done it 2-3 days faster if I gossiped less and hadn’t taken a hypothermia induced rest day at saltuluokta and if the boat times were a bit more frequent.  However it was a nice zen pace and my legs are in fine shape now versus how they were at the end of the Alps.  In the final tally I lost two toenails, wore out two pairs of socks, and ended up with a big hole in my right shoe.  I lost count of the bruises and cuts, but my shins are pretty bashed up and I have a fine set of cuts under my chin :-).  

– Would definitely recommend the full trail to any energetic hikers

– Would recommend the northern more populous area to any trail runners as the huts provide all the infrastructure you need so it would be easy to run with less than 3kgs on the back (no tent, stove, food, mattress or sleeping bag required), and I would suggest running from vakkatovare to kebnekaise and then onto abisko as teusajaure is lovely

– My favourite part was the wild section between Ammarnas and Kvikkjokk as there were no people, but Skierffe and the kebnekaise valley are both beautiful.

Am looking forward to coming back to visit the Sareks national park

Tak Sweden! 

the view from abisko fjallstation

Kungsleden day 12 – face plant

After a glorious night sleep I left tjaktja to head down to the alesjaure river. It was a divine sunny morning. I made good time to alesjaure hut 12k away at the head of a delightful series of lakes


After fortifying myself with coffee, a whole packet of biscuits and a bar of chocolate I meandered down the side of the lakes enjoying the views of the sun reflecting in the water. Lots of less energetic hikers take a boat to avoid walking this part of the trail to save time, which is a shame as it is one of the more stunning parts


After the lakes, there was a pretty boring rocky section for 5-6k. I rolled my ankle here, ouch! Then about 30 minutes later I tripped and landed on my face. I have an impressive graze on my chin. I felt something in my mouth and was worried I had knocked a tooth out (Kazakhstan all over again) but fortunately it was just a rock! I think I am a bit tired which is when I stop concentrating and start tripping over.  

I did pass by the amusing meditation platz (place).  At first i thought these were sign posts to an actual place called meditation, but no there are dedicated meditation areas all along the trail – very cute


I arrived at abiskojaure hut at 4pm, too early for me to stop normally but I didn’t fancy another 15k on the ankle. I sat in the sun and had dinner no. 1 – couscous, salami, chocolate, chips and marzipan cake. 

 Then I went and had a sauna. I wish all countries put saunas in their huts – it is the ultimate luxury even if you have to chop the wood. I am even getting used to naked people.     I didn’t think I smelt too bad, but did realise after I had cleaned myself how honking my tshirt was. Oh well – just one more day until clean clothes
I settled back down at a table in the hut for dinner no 2 – chicken korma and more marzipan cake, and had a chat with a Finnish artist and a lovely swede who has lived in NZ. There are a few too many people in this hut for my liking but it is nice to sleep on a bed

the sauna at abiskojaure

Distance travelled – 35k from tjaktja hut to abiskojaure hut

Kungsleden day 11 – the path less travelled

A glorious sunny morning after torrential rain all night so I decided to summit kebnekaise – swedens highest mountain. 

But first, a huge buffet breakfast to fully fuel myself – muesli, four bread rolls with ham, fish paste and marmalade and four cups of coffee.  I was also a cheeky kiwi and made four sandwiches to go.  It was good value at £9, actually even better value when I got half an hour down the trail and realise I hadn’t paid (as in the other places I had paid at check in).  Ooops, might have to send the STF a check


I headed up the mountain feeling energised for about four minutes and then I saw a train of people walking slowly on the path.   Not just all the hundreds of people who had stayed in the station the night before (on every available floor surface) but helicopter loads of people who were landing from nikkolaukta every ten minutes.  I stayed zen for approximately 15 minutes during which time I overtook about 40 people with day packs (I had all my gear) and they were rude about being overtaken.   Well, kebnekaise might be the highest summit in Sweden but it’s not that big (2000 something metres) and I decided I didn’t care enough to see it to deal with the crowds.   so I put some opera in my ears and cut across country to the valley path I had followed yesterday.  A good call – for two hours I didn’t see anyone and it was beautiful.

I took a side trail to rejoin the Kungsleden from the kebnekaise valley and stopped for lunch at kuoperjakka.  It was a glorious glorious sunny day and I decided to embrace my cultural heritage and get back in my shorts.  The valley was stunning and the views of the mountains with a fresh dusting of snow were delightful.


I passed salka hut at 3 and decided to keep going until Tjakta hut (my error was in not stocking up at chocolate at salka as there is no shop on Tjakta).   It was a lovely walk up the valley and then over the pass to a long ‘bald’ (Karlfjall) to the Tjakta hut.  The wind whipped up at the pass so the heavy Swedish pants were back on again.


I arrived at 6 and am delighted they have a bed for me.  Although the tent is plenty warm, I find it hard to sleep in my sleeping bag when it is fully done up as my feet feel trapped, so am looking forward to stretching out tonight.    I am also super happy that my feet have been dry all day!  That’s a miracle! 


I sat down for dinner and had a random assortment of food – salmon and potato soup, refried beans, chocolate porridge and some biltong, and then the last of the chocolate.  I have a few meals left but will definitely be restocking with sugar at alesjaure tomorrow


The light was beautiful tonight and I watched the sun set behind the mountain.  While I could finish tomorrow if I walk all day to do the 50k to abisko, the weather forecast is good so might take a few detours

Distance travelled = 35 km from kebnekaise fjallstation to tjaktjastugan

Ascent = 620m

Kungsleden day 10 – seeing what the day brings

I didn’t really have much of a plan today, apart from seeing what the day bought me….. And what a day it was!

I set off up the hill from Teusajaure alongside the waterfall and had a lovely 6k walk across a bald on the mist. After a while I came to a reindeer fence and I love the practical way these things work so you can decide at which height you want to go through – you just pull aside the poles to get through and put them back


After 9k and seeing no one, I passed kaitamare hut which is at the end of another lovely lake. 

And from their I headed up the valley alongside a fantastic river that started braiding up the Singi valley. 

 Around 10.30 I started passing my first hikers coming from the other direction and a couple of German ladies told me the weather forecast tomorrow was looking good so I thought I would head to kebnekaise to see if I could summit the mountain (this is about a 40k detour from the Kungsleden). It was a good call as although the weather wasn’t brilliant it was mostly dry and there were even a few patches of blue in the sky. 

 The walk down the valley to kebnekaise was stunning with steep cliffs towering over the laddjujohka river on both sides. Even if I don’t make the summit this was a stunning and worthwhile detour

The only downside is that this part of the trail is a highway and I passed about 60 people all heading to the mountain station at kebnekaise. 

 When I arrived in the rain I decided to ask for a bed as there weren’t great tent pitches and there were tents everywhere. I had been warned by hikers all up and down the trail that this place was a zoo. The gentleman at reception kindly confirmed they did have beds – I could sleep on a mattress on the floor in the sauna changing room which would be available after 9pm, and for the small cost of £75. Highway robbery. For £20 I got to pitch my tent on a tiny scrap of dirt (at least having a small tent means it is easy to find a pitch) and I got to have a shower, sauna and sit inside the kitchen until 9pm to warm up and charge my phone

The sole redeeming feature of this place is they sell pretty good cinnamon buns so I had three. I am planning on taking my revenge on them by demolishing the breakfast buffet tomorrow 🙂

Distance covered = 34k from teusajaurestugorna to kebnekaise fjallstation 

Kungsleden day 9 – enforced rest

Given the vagaries of the boat and bus schedules I can’t actually start hiking today until about 3pm. I am in saltuluokta, where the Kungsleden breaks and then restarts about 70k away, which requires a ferry over the lake followed by a two hour bus ride.  And the ferry does not leave until noon

So I used the free time to get some calories in.  Again, I had an amusing breakfast experience with some surprised swedes wondering how I could eat two bowls of muesli, three eggs, and pretty much a whole loaf of warm bread with marmalade!   Actually it was pretty easy, washed down with four cups of coffee.  


I stocked up with some outrageously expensive chocolate in the shop and also gave in to the Swedish tradition and bought some proper long pants as have been warned it might get even colder.  It will be the first time ever hiking in trousers – even in the Alps in the snow I was in shorts – but hopefully I won’t get another case of the shakes if I can stay warm

And then I hung out in front of the log fire eating cookies and drinking coffee until the ferry came.  In true Swedish egalitarian tradition the boat was driven by two young women.  I arrived early so helped them unload about a tonne of heavy boxes, and was impressed that they both had knives strapped to their pants!  

Off the boat and onto the bus.  I was on the bus for ten minutes, then had an hour stopover before the next bus, which takes 35 minutes to get to my destination.  Oh well, had a chocolate brownie and a cup of tea


I finally left vakkatovare at 3pm in the drizzle and it was a nice uphill climb to warm me up!   While it was cloudy it was stunningly beautiful, with amazing views from the ‘balds’ as these high plains are called in Swedish.   

The wind picked up on the balds and the clouds closed in and I relished having warm legs in my new long pants.  When my fingers went numb I tried a new practice of putting all my layers on including my down jacket under my waterproofs.  Normally I save some clothes for when I stop moving but that didn’t work out so well yesterday.   After a while I could feel my fingers again 🙂

After a lovely wander over the balds, it was down to teusajaure lake which looks like the Milford sound or a Norwegian fjord.   I raised the flag to let the hut warden on the other side know I wanted a motorboat pick up as it was too windy to row and he came over straight away (even though the sign said he wouldn’t come for an hour).  

When he told me the temperature was four degrees I decided to go luxurious and pay the extra 20 euros to sleep in the hut rather than pitch my tent, so am sharing a very nice six bed room with kitchen with Michael and his son Simon from Switzerland.   We have the fire blazing and it is almost too hot.   


I had a quick sauna in the ladies only time to get my extremities nice and toasty…. But I didn’t follow local practice of jumping in the lake afterwards.   Some delicious Mac and cheese for dinner with biscuits and chocolate and we were getting ready for bed at hiker midnight when three very wet Swedish girls arrived and made lots of noise!

Distance covered 18km from saltuluokta to teusajaure hut

A note on cute Swedish manners – so it turns out that Swedish people are so polite that it is customary in Sweden to put your groceries on the conveyor belt at the supermarket with the bar codes already facing the scanner. Of course it is obvious how helpful this is for the checkout assistant now that I think about it, but never in my life would I have thought about doing it.    Next time you go to Sweden it is worth bearing this in mind as they probably think we are all uneducated louts.

Kungsleden day 8 – there is a reason it is called the Arctic circle

So this photo is the only photo I took in the first 10 hours of my day, as my fingers were too numb to open my jacket or use my phone.  In case you can’t tell it is my socks for the day, soaking wet in a glacial puddle in the corner of my tent. 

 It rained all night but I was warm enough, and slept quite well.  I was awake at 5.30, had breakfast in bed and headed out to pick up the 9.30 boat to Sitojaure which left from Svinne, 9k away.   

It was cold this morning, with a bitter strong wind, and then the hail came.  And then I slipped off a bridge and fell arse deep in a stream.  I made it to Svinne by 8am, but I was shivering and had no feeling in my fingers.  There was a shelter near the jetty, so I woke up the three young Germans who were slumbering inside (nb don’t feel bad for them, you are not supposed to sleep in the shelters).  I had a coffee, warmed up slightly and then jumped on the boat at 9.30 for the 4K trip across the lake.   By the time I got off I was shivering so badly the Sitojaure hut warden took me into her house to warm me up and give me a coffee.   

I sat by the fire for a while and summoned up the courage to head out to Saltuluokta – 20k further – which wasn’t my original plan, but I knew they had showers, and my original destination 35k further did not!  Alexsandr – a young Swedish guy wanted to see if he could keep up with my pace so we set out together 

Once outside I immediately started shivering and lost feeling in my fingers again.   After 10k, there was respite in the form of another shelter so I stopped for tea and pasta, Alex kept going as he said he needed to slow down a bit, as my pace was killing him.  Once inside it was hard to leave as it was warm and there were fun people inside (including two Germans with rum :-)), but after an hour I did, and same problem…. Bad shakes for most of the rest of the way.   

I arrived at the mountain lodge, resigned to pitching my tent, as I had called them from Sitojaure and they said they were full.  Miracle – they had a bed.  Better miracle I have had a hot shower and a sauna (I finally get the Scandinavian obsession with the  sauna!!!!) and finally stopped shivering.   

Not every day in the mountains is a perfect day! And sometimes you just need to grit your teeth and endure.   It was beautiful but I was too cold to notice.   Hoping for warmer weather tomorrow 🙂

The day was fully redeemed by a lovely Swedish dinner with awesome company!  With 8 women around the table – 2 Dutch, 1 Dutch/French, 3 Swedish and one German, we had a wide ranging and hilarious conversation which covered everything from universal income experiments, the US election, vegetarianism, the refugee crises, and who we would all sleep with out of Lord of the rings!   We had to break up the amusement at 22.15 (well past hiker midnight) when someone upstairs thumped on the floor to demand quiet.   Women are amazing! 

I also got to meet Holle and Martin who were very groovy Germans.  Holle is a small ball of unstoppable force, and Martin is a fellow gear freak who got excited about lightweight gear and that was his entry into hiking (I think it is a guy thing :-)).

I had an amazing nights sleep and feel wholly restored

Distance = 28k from the ridge above Aktse to saltuluokta 

Kungsleden day 7 – it’s going to be a bright sun shiny day

The forecast today was for sun!  Unbelievable!  But sadly it was only going to last for one day and then rain again tomorrow.  I decided to try to get all the way to Skierffe today for what was described as the best view in Sweden.  That would require a 37k hike, a boat ride (on a motorboat provided I reached Laiture by 5pm, otherwise I would have to row 3k) and then another 16k hike.    I wasn’t sure it was possible given the timings, and I was also torn by the desire to eat a substantial breakfast from the buffet which didn’t open to 7am, but I figured I would give it a shot

Breakfast was awesome.  I sat down with two small portions of food and the ladies at my table asked if I would be able to eat all of the food on my plates.  Three servings later, plus four coffees and some cookies thrown in for good measure, they were pretty impressed, and I wasn’t even full!


I hit the trail just before 8, and figured the trail would dictate how far I got today!  There is a limit to how far you can go in boggy mud and rock.   This picture is a pretty good view of the path.  No it is not a stream, that is the actual path.   At one point I put my foot down and I sank in until mid thigh…., extricating the leg was a bit challenging as I could feel the mud sucking my shoe off and I sure as hell did not want to have to stick my hands in the mud to try and find the shoe


I was also a bit shocked by the sheer number of people I saw.  The first two hours were OK as no one had left before me and people weren’t coming in my direction, but from 10 onwards it was busy!  I saw more people in ten minutes than I had seen on the trail in the previous four days.  

The walk was lovely, through the forest, past some glorious lakes and then up onto a high ridge for some glorious views.  I suspect the scenery was equally lovely to what I had seen in the preceding few days but everything is lovelier in the sun

I reached Laiture at 4.30 to find a forlorn German girl.  She and her boyfriend had rowed over from Aktse over two hours before but because of the rowboat system, he was having to row a boat back and then return.  She hadn’t seen him for a while.   We chatted while I waited for the motorboat, and hoped he might have taken that option.   Sadly, he was not on the motorboat, but I did see him 2/3 of the way back across the lake.  I paid 200kr (£20) to cross the lake in ten minutes which felt worth it to me.  My rowing is so bad I would likely have had to row 6k to make it 3k across the lake as it is hard to steer


I got to Aktse and had been warned to pick up water as their was no water close to Skierffe.  I loaded up with 3litres as was planning to camp on the ridge and would need water in the morning.  It was a bit of a struggle getting up the hill as in total the pack weighed 14kg – nothing for a swede, but bonkers heavy for me.  I had picked up my 5 kilo resupply package in Kvikkjokk and supplemented it with some chocolate and was having to pay he price.  

At the top of the ridge, I pitched my tent (and left my heavy gear and water inside it) and headed out on the side path to Skierffe.  The views were already magnificent but the path was even muddier than normal.   I made it about 3k down the 6k path and then the rains came, so it made no sense to go further.  I reckon I still saw a decent amount of swedens best view even though the light wasn’t great


Let’s see what tomorrow brings, if it is sunny I will give it another go

Back in my tent now eating pasta and drinking cocoa and wearing all my clothes 

Distance travelled 41k from Kvikkjokk to the ridge above Aktse 

Ascent 854m

Kungsleden Day 6 – bonding with humanity

The rain bucketed down last night, and I was a bit worried my ultralight tent wouldn’t withstand the torrential downpour but I made it through the night and actually slept like a baby.  The plan for today was to do a half day (25km) to Kvikkjokk where there is a hostel with a shower and elk on the menu.  After cheesy grits, powdered eggs and coffee cooked in my sleeping bag, I got moving around 7am

It was misty but rain free for most of the day and I started with a nice climb up to the side of a rocky peak of Goabddabakte and then a long walk across the highlands, passing no one except for two tents in the first 10km


I ran in to the lovely David, a swede, on the descent down to the river at  Tsielekjakkstugan.  We had a good discussion on trail etiquette and confirmed that kiwi trail rules match Swedish trail rules, but we shouldn’t expect the English or Germans to follow the norms.   He was off to Ammarnas but gave me a great tip about a side trail to Skierffe to see the delta which I will definitely do!

david

Taking a decided leisurely approach today I popped into the emergency shelter to make a coffee and have a snack out of the wind and met the lovely Johan from France (a proper globalista with South Korean origins and America citizenship).   I made him a cup of tea (as he had no stove) and we had a wide ranging discussion about life, career and happiness.  

Johan and his food

From the shelter it was only another 12k to mallenjarka where you can call the boatman for a ride to Kvikkjokk as there is no trail.  It was a rough rocky and rooty trail to rival some of the roughest kiwi paths with one tough deep stream crossing.   I fell over hard twice and have a great bruise on my arm (slippery rocks 2:Mel 0).

I can’t complain though as I met the hardcore Veronica on her way up the steep hill with her mountain bike!  She is doing some very long trail which goes for thousands of kms, and she said some sections had been tricky – I have no doubt!.  I was impressed!


And finally I met some Swedish girls who wanted some trail advice about the path south, so we had a chat and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of their cute dogs.  

So all in all it was a lovely gossipy morning after quite a few days of solitude.  I called the boat guy from mallenjarka hut and expected to wait a while but he said he would be over in 30 minutes 


So it was meant to be a 20 minute ride to Kvikkjokk but I was still in the boat 3.5 hours later.  Bjorn invited me to stay in the boat to go for a tour up to the entry of Sareks national park as he needed to drop some people off up there.  I asked how long it would be as I was keen for food and a shower, and he said 40 minutes.  I remembered how well things had played out for me recently when I went with the flow, so ignored my hunger and said yes

So we picked up Stefan and Alex (brother and sister from Germany) and Paco, Aman, Pepo and Duke (friends and son from the Canaries) and headed up river.  Bjorn decided to give us an extra special tour so we visited the lagoon, stopped to pick berries and even sung happy birthday to Paco for his 51st.  


After dropping them off we stopped for more berries and then Bjorn persuaded me I needed to go for a proper Swedish swim in the lake. So off we went! It was f’ing freezing, but actually surprisingly refreshing when we got out, and something I never thought I would do

Then we headed back to town where I met his partner Helena and checked out her amazing paintings (www.helenaadolfsson.se) and then he walked me to the hostel!   What an amazing and totally unexpected afternoon!  

I rounded out the day with more gossiping with my roommates Maya and Tova, and then an astounding huge dinner of salad, elk steak, and rhubarb tart.  Bjorn and Helena also joined us for a drink at dinner

my roommates – from finland, sweden, and norway

Am loving the friendliness of the swedes and it is amazing how nice it is to actually interact with humans after a few days of solitude

Distance traveled 25km from Barkavaratj to Kvikkjokk