Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Moose soup

Leer "sopa de alce"

The main activity today was a visit to a reindeer farm, managed by sami people. The sami are a ethnic minority living in the north. They are semi-nomad people, moving around big areas with their reindeers. They consider themselves sami more than Swedish, and because of that they are not really part of the national states where they live. It has the big disadvantage of making them foreigners, even if they owned the land for millenniums, in a similar fashion of indigenous people in the American continent. Because our host has a impossible to remember/pronounce name (wich included his genealogy up to his grand-father's father), so I'm going to call him "our host" from now on.

There are not that much to see in the farm, but there is a lot to talk about with our host and his people. Sami live mostly in Norway and Sweden, but there are a few thousands living in Finland and Russia. They have their own language, but usually also speak the national language. So our host spoke sami, swedish, finish and english, and a few words in many other languages. He says he is not able to write in any language but Swedish, can read also his own language, some Finish and not English. But he is able to communicate with people, what is what languages are made for, something we ("educated" international students) were unable to do.

There are a lot of contrast in the live of sami. They still move around with their reindeers, having a winter house in the valley, and a summer house in the mountains, dropping school very early and living a rather simple live. At the same time they host tourists, own skin-selling companies, try to teach inuit how to ... (criar?) caribus, travel using powerful snow scooters and make calls with their cell phones. It was funny listening to talking about the isolated live they have. Our host say that "when you are in the mountains, you have to go high, open areas to make a call." But as he said, their live is simple, not primitive.

We were allowed to feed the animals, and then we were invited to go into a house. It was wooden, round, with a conic ceiling a fire in the middle and a lot of reindeer skins as main furniture. Actually they depend a lot on reindeer, they use their skin not only as insulation, but to make shoes, pants and almost everything, they eat their meat, drink their milk and use their horns to make tools and handicraft that is sold to tourists just like me.

Then we had a lunch consisting of moose soup and bread. The soup was really simple: potatoes, carrots, Swedish cabbage and moose meat. The only spice it had was salt, what is good, because you can taste the actual flavor of the food. The lunch was served with a really nice and fun talk about the sami people, with our host making jokes and asking us about our countries, instead of just talking like if we were in a lesson.

I can't recall all that he said, but I remember some talk about the customs for daily living, how to find a wife, how to burn wood, how to protect children from bad spirits, how to make a ghost to leave your house and the one thousand and one uses of pee.

To close the visit we drank some really strong Colombian coffee (they love Colombian coffee), waited to the fire to extinguish and said goodbye as the night comes... at 3 pm.


Today's movie: "Sun Storm." Solstorm in Swedish. The trailer in youtube.

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