two weekends ago, Eric invited Sam and I to Finland to celebrate his sister Toini's birthday. (she is actually the same age as Sam and I) after much debating about whether or not to use Sam's one-entry Schengen visa which we had saved for a trip in case we didn't have the money to go to Africa this summer, we finally decided to take the plunge and trust in God's provision for our much hoped-for trip to Namibia. (and God has totally rewarded that leap!) We came to a decision Friday night and left Saturday morning on the train to Lahti. around noon we arrived, with Eric meeting us at the train station, along with Dima, Toini's husband. back at their house, the party was already in motion, inside and outside the house, despite the darkening rain clouds overhead. 40+ Russian natives, most of whom had emmigrated to Finland after the fall of the Soviet Union. Champagne and strawberries, rum, wine, etc, in hand - there was lots of chatting, several children running around chasing each other - typical party atmosphere, midday. soon after we arrived, the main attraction began - salsa lessons. the funniest thing, however, was that when Sam and I arrived, since no one at the party knew us, they all thought that WE were the dance instructors! the real instructors were an older couple who did their instruction in Finnish, though i have found that when doing something like dance or exercise, understanding directions is really not nearly so important. you watch, and soon you've got it. all the women had been directed to wear skirts with flounce since they "flow" and add that extra something to any Latin dance. The guys mostly watched, however a few brave souls sis join in either after enough drinks, or when given enough convincing, or in Sam's case, when given no choice. (might i add, that when i tried to coerce him, he wouldn't budge, but when outside pressure was applied, it was only a matter of time. so there was dancing, then there was FOOD! followed by coffee, more drinks, then out came the vodka, there was grilling of meat, singing of national anthems, lots of Russian people who had earlier been shy to use their English, now emboldened and chatting up a storm with us. finally at around 1am, there was karaoke. by 2, Sam and I were ready for some shut-eye. We climbed up into the low ceiling-ed attic loft where we would sleep, and we drifted off to the sounds of the partying below. the next day was a fine, sunny day and there was much of the same, only more low key. we passed the time sunbathing, reading, and picnic-ing in the glorious fresh air. The evening of Day 2 concluded with sauna and the Brazil vs. USA football match, which was surprisingly close. Eric and I supported the underdogs - (USA, of course). Sam and Pasha (Eric's teenage son) went with the odds and rooted for Brazil. Props to team USA, even though in the end, they lost. another night's sleep (a bit earlier and quieter this time) and then it was up early the next morning to catch the train home. Back to dirty city air and traffic noises...but home nonetheless.
Finland. June 27-29, 2009
Eric's sister, Toini, lives in Lahti, Finland - about 4 hours from here by train. Sam and I were invited with Eric to celebrate her birthday.
Sorry, but that's where the photos end.