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Week 11: May The Circle Be Unbroken

Part 2 of our Norrland adventure begins as we say so long to our beloved Moskosel and head up into the Arctic Circle. Jokkmokk is much more than a “simple and sturdy” set of table and chairs from Ikea, it’s a hub of Sami culture and commerce, where a winter market has been a vibrant meeting place for more than 400 years! At the Ájtte Museum, we are blown away by the amazing array of images, objects and stories that tell the story of Sápmi and Sámi culture; at the Sámi Duodji Sameslöjdstiftelsen, it’s clear that the elders and young artists alike are continuing craft traditions in ways that resonate deeply in the 21st century. If the soul of Jokkmokk pulses with the power, grace and resilience of the Sámi people, Kiruna is an unsettling glimpse at the realities of contemporary resource extraction. LKAB has mined so much iron in the area the entire city is sinking into the pit hollowed out below! But the mine also casts a long shadow above ground in this company town–seems like pretty much everyone here works for the mine, or used to work for the mine, or has a business that relates to the mine, or eats cake at the LKAB museum in the home of the founder of the mine–so all of Kiruna is slowly being moved 2 km away…

“Then there are the indigenous Sami people of Scandinavia, whose traditional lifestyle revolves around herding and hunting reindeer. The Sami have long protested against the building of new mines in their ancestral homeland. LKAB officials claim the relocation of Kiruna won’t affect the Sami because the new site was already a town dump, but the Sami themselves have a somewhat different take. “They just don’t need to give a fuck, so they don’t give a fuck,” a member of the Sami parliament told The Guardian.”

It’s a relief to flee to the fjords. Bibbi told us the Lofoten Archipelago is one of her favourite places on earth and we can see why… the magnificence of nature is almost overpowering in its stark and striking beauty. Combine this with the tantalizing (for JoJo) smell of millions of codfish drying in the wind and a sky that dims but never really darkens throughout the entire night and it’s absolutely unforgettable.

After a stormy ferry ride to the mainland, we make our way back to Sweden and hightail it Vilhelmina, a town Maria spoke about in such glowing terms, we knew we just had to visit. Classic cars and EPA-traktors cruising down the strip, hi-lo thrift store options, delicious soup at the old grey house, my new favourite singer and style icon Lapp-Lisa, and learning about Sámi art and culture from Doris at Risfjells Sameslöjd. An added bonus was discovering a family farm run by the intrepid Ida: lambs and their mamas gamboling around, cows enjoying the automatic backscratcher, a smiling sheep dog, fresh eggs in the donor-pay shop downstairs, and a whole array of amazing wallpaper… We loved it so much we stayed two days!

A night of camping in Mora (home of Santa Claus and the Dala Horse), where the teenagers quit partying at 11 pm on the dot but the birds scream all night long, and then back into Norway for Sunday in Oslo, lunching (brown cheese!) with our online poet pal Nuri (who’s been part of the Haiku You ever since she found us via Eventbrite, even though the 4 PM start time in LA means Nuri’s zooming in at 1 AM each month!) and hanging out at Cinemateket with our dear Elena Pardo and Dahlia Huerto Cano, and new friends including Greg Pope, programmer of The Dream That Kicks series that this evening is presenting Elena’s magnificent expanded cinema piece Pulsos Subterráneos.

From the program notes: “Using three 16mm projectors with live and recorded sound, Pardo investigates the history and contemporary struggles connected to the Zacatecas and Oaxaca mining areas in Mexico. Pardo’s work portrays a communities’ resistance to corporate mining and their defense of its life and culture. Pulsos Subterráneos seeks to understand the struggle to protect the territory through the stories told by its inhabitants and the experiences evoked by its landscapes.”

A perfect ending to our wondrous little road trip.

Besitos, darlings; we’re off to Gothenburg!

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