It seems strange that I haven't written the past four days of activities. I'm not quite sure I can keep them straight in my head.
It's 12:05am here, and I leave in 13 hours. The house is quiet, and I'm already feeling sad to leave here. Not only will I miss talking to Martina and Jouni everyday, but the twins really have made an impression on me: trying to find new ways to hear them laugh, making silly faces to stop them from crying, seeing them fall asleep in the back of the car. Anyways, on to the travelogue... Sweden is still chilly and overcast, though I had a chance to use up the last of my sunblock yesterday (more on that in a minute).
Thursday we had a busy morning of keeping the kids busy and in good spirits. For some reason I was reading the kids a board book called "Deck the Halls," so all afternoon they would randomly sing, "la la la" and we'd break out in song. In the afternoon, we went to Kyls Strandbad, a beach down the coast from Simrishamn. The water was certainly chilly, and first I chased waves with Abbe and post-snack I went out with Vyda. I love how they cling to you in both fear and excitement as the little waves hit. I've never been much of a beach person (sunblock woes and fear of deep water, I suppose), but it´s fun to experience the water with them.
On Friday Martina, the kids, and I went to Brantevik, a town just south where the kids were christened in an old school. It's another quiet fishing village, and the houses and gardens could keep any photographer busy. Such a play of colors. The old school is a lovely cafe and bed & breakfast. We ate great soup and drank tea while the kids slept nice and long. We even enjoyed a bit of a walk before they woke up. We took a walk along the coast where local horses roam, so the kids kept running up to each pile of horse manure and shouting "bajs," the Swedish equivalent of "poop." The coast here really is as lovely as the guidebooks say--great light and vivid greens. We made our way around the streets, me stopping every few feet to take yet another photo, and back to Simris. Martina's sister came out for dinner, and we had a nice social evening of getting to know each other and hearing stories.
On Saturday morning, we were all up to see Johanna off to the train station and then I crashed for a good solid two hours. After the kids napped, we went off to the ecovillage school where the twins will start day care in September. It was a work day, so we raked up weeds, kept the kids out of trouble, and just helped spiffy up the grounds. Martina and I were eventually put in charge of digging square grooves where we could slide in the rabbit pen--presumable so the little critters couldn't escape when they were running about during the day. In a feat of engineering by the poet and the psychologist, we finished (me wondering how I fit it into my vegan anti-zoo, anti-caged animals theory--but heck, it's an ecovillage school, so I stopped thinking). After my last day of vacation sunblock, we came back to the house where Martina and I attempted to wash off dirt for the big farm party.
Jouni drove us to the party 20 minutes away, and we arrived with other guests coming for an early picnic. We sat with the kids outside eating snacks before Jouni went back with the kids sand left us to our own devices. I really don't know where to start in describing this party. First, the age range: 18 to 60ish. The barn was all decked out with a stage and sound equipment. The bar, which looked very permanent, decorated with old posters of American movies and a Bruce Springsteen poster back from his "Born in the USA" days. Outside people sat and picnic tables and benches eating and drinking, laughing and chatting. The crowd of people seemed like all sorts, hippies and fashionistas, laid back and casual to, well, everyone was pretty casual. And not a stereotypical plaid shirt in sight, as if I expected it for some reason. Anways, when the band eventually played they sounded like a funky mix of reggae and pop, which sounded fantastic and had the whole crowd jumping and dancing and singing along (this must be a local band made good). By the time Jouni picked us up at 1am, the band was finished and Springsteen's "My Home Town" played in the background. Not quite as wierd as listening to Sinatra in the Masai Mara--but close. With the kids snuggled up and sleeping, I crawled in between them and tried to keep their heads from bobbing up an down like I myself do so well.
Today we all slept late (the kids and Martina until 7am and me until a shocking 10am and Jouni until 11am). The rain was not enough to keep us indoors because there was one last tourist tick on Maureen´s list (I only had 2: the castle and the stones). So, off we went to Ales stenar, a circle of stones on the south coast about a half hourish away. On the way we stopped off at a few places and eventually made it to the nearby town of Kaseberga for lunch. By the time we were done with lunch the skies decided to drop again. So, off we trekked up the hill to the stones, me trying to finagle an umbrella so that I could take photos of them. By the time we were back to the car, we were all soaked (except the kids who were nice and protected under their rain tarp). The stones were really cool. Not as tall as the Stonehenge stones but many more of them. You could go up to the stones and touch them and you didn't even have to pay (i.e. Stonehenge). The rainy, blustery day provided the perfect backdrop for the stones, but I do wish I could have sat there in the middle under a dry sky and enjoyed the breeze off the sea. I was very appreciative of the family trek to this stop, and I tried to put on my circus act for the kids in the backseat as they were perhaps not so thrilled about being a bit wet and dragged about. We've had a nice quiet last night at home, and I'm not even going to think about packing my bag. There will be a few hours in the morning.
Two weeks. Two countries. Two good friends. I've know Claire for 14 years and Martina for 10, and it's so wonderful to see them in person instead of talking to them over the phone. I do love my life. Yet, all vacations come to an end, and I must make my way back to Chicago and the life I'm still creating there. In two days I'll be back at work and in two weeks back to both studying, writing, and teaching. I'll be thinking and writing about this trip for months and months, and this makes the good-byes a little less sad.
This is my last official "on trip" blog entry, but I will post photos within the next week so please check back and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading.