Kiruna & Jukkasjäryi, Sweden

January 13, 2002

"Everything we say is becoming true," Tony noted early. It was too bad I had told about the Swiss mountain climber I met around here in September waiting all day for the one bus. He had left his passport at the hotel, but they had put in on the next bus going north. "Notice how friendly and trusting they are. They didn't even ask for our passports," Tony remarked. Then I search my layers of clothing to find that I had left my passport at the hotel. I knew exactly where I left it – rushing to get my clothes off for the sauna on the first night (I figured if I were first I could hide in the corner in shyness before anyone else arrived).

We arrived in Kiruna, but were in the taxi to Jukkasjäryi straight off for the famous Ice Hotel. It's absolutely amazing! Rooms, desks, plates, glasses, seats, all ice with high snow walls. They have to rebuild the entire thing each year after it melts in early Summer. Unfortunately, I couldn't really enjoy it since I called the hotel and they said they couldn't find my passport.

During the taxi ride back to Kiruna, the driver saw my distress, called the hotel and asked for them to look again. They did and found it! My passport was put on the train, which was my night train. I'd be back on track soon enough.

Tony said it was a reminder and I liked the sound of this. It wasn't like someone saying that this was something I world learn from as if I were an ignorant child or not well traveled, but something more gentle and more true. Indeed if this had happened in Bombay, Hanoi or Cartehenia, things would be different and then it wouldn't feel like a reminder. The dog camp, Italians in Abisko and relaxing on the train (when Gerda was sleeping) reminded me how much I loved being independent on the road in a foreign land. Yet calling Ritsuko back in London in my moment of panic brought me of the warmth of hearing a sympathetic voice. There is duality in everything. Perhaps Tony spoke of this deeper reminding.

After a veggie burger and afternoon walk through the town of industrial Kiruna with a stop at the church, we were back well in time for the train. I found the head conductor at once.

"Hello, I have come from Abisko before here, but left a passport behind. Do you have it?"
"Hmmm. Do you know if anyone else on the train might know of it?"

Now I was certain to spend a day or more at the embassy explaining who I was and why I was where. Then he smiled and handed me a large envelope. It was my passport and I laughed along. Good humor often comes at the slight expense of another and if it's a good prank, then momentarily being the victim is all in good fun.

I finished reading my book and chatted with Tony on the train until late and got a good sleep. We'd be back home in less than 30 hours now like it was all a dream. A dream that reminds us of the calls we hear and the calls we follow. Looking through paintings, photographs and postcards while waiting for the bus to the airport out of Stockholm, I could see my travel companions were making mental notes of what we took in and what it might be like when Lapland thaws out.

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