Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Jag älskar Sverige!I love Sweden!

I'm not trying to flatter my Swedish students. You do not learn a language like Swedish, not having a valid reason like living in Sweden or Swedish love story.

Non of these is my case. I am happy to live in my divine Buenos Aires with my divine porteno Victor.But Sveden is my long lasting love story.

For the last 7 years,and with reciprocity. Sorry, there was Pippi Langstrump in my childhood, with long side-effects still, I am afraid!There is time in your life when you receive so much that you can't stop giving. It's never enough. My newest gift for Sweden and the Swedes was speaking their language. The most difficult thing was keeping it as a surprise, for over year and a half-two years. Now, end of June-July we are in my favourite part of Sweden, northern Sweden,which had conquered my heart...I have written esseys starting with " Norrland är min favorit landskap i Sverige" .When I got the massage we are invited to Piteå this year, I was in Patagonia, for the World Tango Summit. Our of joy I felt like climbing the nearest glaciar and shouting; 'Det ar på tiden' !( it's high time). I WAS READY TO PRACTISE WHAT I LEARNT!

I wanted to revisit our Norrland during the midnightsun and see the familiar faces and... speak Swedish with them ( and see how they react to this change). My secret was only entrusted to Sven.The photo depicts me with Sven, who, fullfilling my fantasy put on his major outfit,which, is quite a sacrifice on a hot, Swedish summer day.

After long brainstorming we have decided the following plan of action:

After flying to Stokholm, we shall take a train and get off mid way between Stokholm and Piteå, where Sven was to collect us.We were ment to spend (the rest) of the night ( theorically speaking, practically it was as bright as a day) and the next day with our Sollefteå tango family, and the following day, Sven was crazy enough to drive us another 500 km northwards, to Piteå!

So it was:

Katowice, Poland- Stokholm, Skavsta by plane

Stokholm-Långsele by train ( Swedish comfort)

Solleftea-Pitea by car with Sven & Vile

Our plan worked in a smooth way. Everything in Sweden works as planned. When we arrived to Stokholm C, from the airport, our tickets were waiting to be extracted, as explained by Sven in biljetautomat.....

Hämtas i SJ biljettautomat eller SJ Resebutik. Vid uthämtning via Pressbyrån, 7-Eleven eller ATG-ombud till kommer 20 kronor i serviceavgift. (you pick up the tickets at the station in a ticket automat or at a SJ ticket shop or at a Newspaperstand. It will cost an extra 20 SEK if you collect the tickets at Pressbyrån.) You only need the bookingnumber VBZ7980L. But print the confirmation anyhow!

I LOVE THE WAY everything is practical and logic in Sweden! Care for details! The Swedes, like Victor repeats, deserve the country they created.

THEN...the confortable train, and our perfect sleeping compartmen, left on time, as predicted. Our company, however, was a nice surprise- a Spanish graduate student deciding to explore Kiruna as a special treat and a Swedish environment worker on his long way to his northern hometown, Luleå. The later helped us with his mobile to inform Sven, waiting for us in Långsele station, at 2 am that the train was1 hour late!!!YES, THE SWEDISH TRAIN WAS LATE! VäLKOMNA TILL NORRLAND! Welcome to the latin part of Sweden!

The train was late, I sent a message, but Sven did not receive it, so he spent this special time of the midnightsun waiting for us at the station with his dog Vile. My memory evoked those nice images-handsome elderly man with his old dog sharing the back sit in the car with Victor, tunnbrodsmorgas with coffe, the sun in the middle of the night, moose road signs, a charming falu roda hus we were welcome to, and this feeling of new, adventurous end of the world....Only this time it was like coming back home after a longish time no see, but Sven, Vile, a car, norrland' s woods and moose signs and falu roda hus were the same familar ones.The same Långsele station as 2 years ago, when seen last time on ourlong way across Sweden, from the extreme north ( almost Kiruna) till Malmo, about 2000 km- passing the small Långsele stationat indecent time of 3 or 4a.m. where Sven and Vile were waiting for us just to give a a quick, last good bye hug and a bag of surprises: our beloved tunnbrodsmorgas, snaps for me, beer for Victor, DVDs with our tangos and time shared and see you next year letter ( look at blog July 2007).

Now, 2009, end of June, Långsele station, iluminated by the midnightsun, daliesque mustache of Sven, then svenska nubbar in his house, almost 4 am, speaking Swedish ( me and Sven) for the first time in OUR LIVES, lauhging and drinking, the sun getting stronger.... everything getting more and more SURREAL. Then I dreamt in Swedish for the first time...

Next day, our Swedish breakfast- tunnbrod ( why can t we get this delicasy in BsAs?!)first time this year,stretching in the garden,and the preparation for the party: Picknic with Aisha & victor, as the poster announced, which was not only an innocent meeting of a group of friends... most of our students from 2 years ago came to meet us and share tango,grilled salmon and midnightsun by the river. Sven could not have possibly chosen a better place. A DREAM place: a boat house turned out to be a specious party hall with perfect wooden floor, windows overlooking the river and a terrace over the river with the film like scenery. Add perfect Swedish summer to it. And the midnightsun...

Victor and me welcomed everybody one by one or by couple, as they arrived, and I could practice my newly acquired Swedish and harvest the reactions...This is my personal galery of reactions. My favourite one was by Gun: after some minutes of hugging and chatting,she suddenly exclaimed: " men,Aisha, du star och pratar svenska!' Aisha, you are speaking Swedish!This collection of individual reactions was my first reward for a long efford ( to keep the learning process a secret). The second was being in this magnificent part of Sweden with those people, our second family...They ALL, not only Sven, remembered that we LOVE SALMON, so the evening 's lightmotive was tango and salmon. Grilled salmon,smoked salmon, salmon pie...Sven prepared the special ' salmon packages' envolved with silver paper to be grilled. But other students also wanted to share their salmon specials with us. Can we ever be salmon satisfied? we could not imagine it. ' I can have salmon every day', Victor kept saying. ' You can only have salmon 5 days a week', Sven explained. According to the the old law, a worker was to be fed salmon ONLY 5 days a week, other 2 he had a right for different kind of food'.We had to laugh... This joke accompanied our 10 days in Sweden... Strangely enough we had salmon only the first consecutive days, then we had a break.

Everything work perfectly in Sweden!The problem with parties and milongas in the midnightsun is that you do not have any idea of the time- or, actually, you feel it's still early, as the sun is high and bright. Thus we were surprised, as our Solleftea family started to leave, suddenly saying it was late. Our milonga-picknick started with the sun on and finished with the sun on. We had to force our bodies to go to bed even though we did not have a slightest urge to do so. One cannot imagine what SUN does to people. Our habbits,our entire lives revolve around the sun. Our night and day schedule functions around the sunsets and sunrises. Now, in our Norrland, our biological clocks were going nuts!

One night it was 4 am and we did not feel tired, next night it was 2-3 am and our bodies did not want to listen to the voice of reason and go to bed. Add to it a mix of excitement of reunion and the use of my new language for communication- and who would think about sleeping under these circumstances!There was one logical reason- following morning our drive northwards was to begin, and our chofeur, Sven, needed his night's rest.

A couple of nubbar ( snaps) and we were in bed- in our perfectly dark bedroom ( blinds have to be perfect, that is-totally sunprove).

If somebody told me before that a Swedish, our of his own free will, unpaid, would take his time, his car and his dog and drive us 500 km, I would say-a madman. We are lucky to know such a madman. And a maddog. Vile was obviously coming along.' It's probably his last summer and he wants to share it with us' - Sven replied. Vile was much better passenger than us- not asking for pee stops, coffe breaks, photo shots. Just enjoying the ride.GPS brought us finally to Cathrine's house ( falu rott), were we had our short welcome lunch ( guess what? salmon, of course!) with Cathrine, Bror and Laila, Sven and Vile and then, ( GPS again) to our residence, a big lovely white house( yes, not tipically falu rott) that Gunvor wanted to share with us and then, to our first tango workshops ( GPS).

Hej Aisha Your visit here was a great experience and you and Victor made our days together to an adventure! I say "SKÅL" to you and hope you will have a good and peaceful holiday!Jättekul att se dem( bilderna) och minnas dagarna med er! Jag skickar några bilder från huset, som nu har blivit av med den nödvändiga – men fula –byggnadsställningen.Hoppas ni nu får en trevlig ledighet Varma kramar Gunvor

With Gunvor ' sa det click' as the Swedish king says. Immediately. She is like my older (sometimes younger) sister. And her sister became my other sister. And... there was a surprise waiting for us in our new WHITE HOUSE. Streight from the southermost point in Sweden, almost 2000 km, our friend and agent Inger( Queen Mother as we call her) arrived without having uttered a word! I am not the only one keeping secrets! Another part of the surprise was that SHE and Sven and Vile were to share our Pippi Langstrump's Villa with us! Actually, Sven and Vile had a separate guest house ( falu rött). How could we leave and go to give tango workhops right after such a beginning? Business is business. But there is always fun coming afterwards, specially in Norrland, in the land where SUN NEVER SETS....or sets for just a teasing while...
So, there we are- four sister, fyra systrarna-Gunvor, Brith, Inger and me in the midnightsun.

After the workshops- welcome back dinner at our White House. Gunvor, who also was one of the cooks, magically lenthened the table to squeeze our students and friends. Everything in the midnight sun... It was a MAGIC ' evening' with our Pitea family...chatting and eating and skåling...and I cannot even say untill the night beacause the night would not fall!

Next day ( days) were all packed. Whenever we refer to our agenda as " like in Piteå", we mean that you cannot possibly squeeze anything else in. No spare time. Perfectly planned and full of surprises. PERFECTLY ORGANISED TO THE LAST DETAIL. That's Swedish speciality.

Even though the misterious point at the end of a loooong day ( in all the senses) said " Tango at Storforsen" and we were said we 'd love the place. AND IT WAS BREATHTAKING!
In the middle of the wild, virgin, norrland's forest- the nature created this wander spot: cascades and rapids going down the hill. The biggest in Sweden! And besides the rapids a man created- a PERFECT SCENARIO, a stage. A communion of nature and technology. AND ART. FOR IT WAS OUR SCENERY FOR DANCING TANGO!
Obviously, everything STARTS WITH A SALMON. Raw, cooked, smoked in cold, in hot, grilled etc. The picknick in Storforsen, before tangoing, was also under the sign of SALMON. LAX. And everybody wanted to share their lax with us! My favourite was with the very Swedish dill sauce, which Inger left home. But somebody else had it. Complemented with rott vin. And a while after-blueberry or rabarbar pie with cream! THEY KNOW how to live, the Swedish! And then dancing and dancing and dancing... till the sun was teasing to set and never set..

Of course everybody got photograph taken with everybody else, and all together as well. I was completely sure it was Ronja's and Birk's forest, Mattisforsen. I have seen " Ronja Roverdotter' film in Buenos Aires, Swedish Institute. THAT WAS IT!
Together with Elisabeth I was practising Ronja Rövardotter's vargskriket. And " Det ar pa tiiiiiiideeeeen" . I asked Victor to try it, but he wouldn't. He cannot speak svenska!
We did not want to just leave such a place. So, Gunvor, Inger and me- the siters, decided to have a walk along the rapids, through the forest down to the hotel situated a couple of miles from our dance spot. Brith was to wait there for us with a car.
It was a fairy tale walk in a fairy tale forest. Mattisforsen. We were little girls again. And the midnightsun painted the sky in all the dramatic colours. Specially for us, the brave.

I am not here to write about our tango, even though the workshops were smashingly succesful, and there were various shows and milongas in different locations. I am writing about the locations self or the people or a different aspects which I find unusual. We are having workshops and shows everywhere. What differenciates Pitea, a town by the Northern Polar Circle, is that they organize an intensive week with tango and invent the most charming settings for dancing!
Once was by the above described Storforsen ( WE HAVE NEVER DANCED BY THE WATERFALLS OR THE RAPIDS IN OUR ENTIRE LIVES!). Another was a Graveri ( Curtiembre, sorry for lack of the word in English), another was a beautiful Pippi Langstrumpf kind of house ( falu rott though), still another, and the most universaly posh and classic was a Community Center ( thus, the most boring pictures taken there).

Graveri ( needs a separate chapter), our last' year's residence, is a place we are very sentimental about. Located by the River Pitea, it has it's adjuscent sauna and ' reunion' conservatory, which, as we learnt, is removed from the river to innerland before every winter, for the danger of being destroyed by floating ice! That's the view of it before the human invasion on Sunday evening... ... and that's the beginning of invasion. Salmon, sauna & sunset ( 3S) = BLISS!
And that's crazy tangueros enjoying the sauna and a jump into the river by the midnightsun... After bastu ( sauna) a jumpo to the cold river..

It's as dark as it gets then... Simulation of the sunset. And UP with the sun again!

When Gunvor and Brith mentioned tunnbrodbaking course for me, to complete with my Swedish education, I could sacrifice almost anything. So, we went to the heart of Svensby... Probably most charming prototipical village in Sweden. Gunvor and her sister were lucky enough to spent their childhood here.

And to learn tunnbrodbaking! Unfortunately, this very Tuesday there was not baking, but I learnt theoretically. Inger & Gunvor inspected the tunnbrod's oven. Neither of them looked like ready to prepare the dough.. More, like a summer fairies ( esp. Inger in her new hat)..And we visited this fairy tale Swedish village. .... and met a Swedish folk fairy! Brith was guiding a group of the Americans to the tipical Swedish village.

When I sent my happy greetings from the Northern Polar Circle, happy to be there for the midnightsun tango and speaking Swedish, my brother responded: " WHO ARE THEY FOR WHOM YOU LEARNT SWEDISH?"
Thus, the GALLERY OF NORRLAND's CHARACTERS. Most of them on the photo below, gathered by Pitea River:

Jan. The first Swedish name I learnt to pronounce correctly. Big latin potencial. In tango too:
Ni finns också i mitt och vårt minne! Nu blir det inte 2 år till nästa gång!Och för min del, och jag tror även för Elisabets del, tyckte jag att den andra privatlektionen var väldigt bra, gav mig en del uppenbarelser! Hoppas att det märktes när jag dansade med dig på måndagkvällen. Jag märkte också att jag släpper loss mera i milongan än i tangon, det är mindre huvud i milongan, tänker ännu för mycket på stegen i tangon, kanske för att jag har för liten repertoar för att kunna improvisera obehindrat. Det ni säger om att lämna huvet hemma och dansa med hjärtat är helt rätt. Som tur är har jag möjlighet att träna vidare med Elisabeth! Härlig att dansa med!That is your swedish lesson for today!

Jan has not only conquered our hearts being such a devoted tanguero ( till last year a president of Pitea Tango Ass), but having a very original job. One of the few remaining in Europe. GRAVERI. Sometimes it's also TANGUERI.

Catrine is a new head of Pitea Tango.

A previous bailarina de Jan. A grandmother of 6 (!!!!!??)
A splendid organiser, who put all the effords to make us appear, for the second time, in Norrland. Great manner of dressing. Never dull cloth. She is really, a teenager.

A present tango partner of Jan.
Apart from tango- Ronja Rovardotter.
Good company to practise vargskriket in Mattisforsen.
Speaks Spanish and has been to Buenos Aires.Coming again, this October. Looks great in blue,matching her eyes. Tack för en trevlig och givande kurshelg i Piteå.
Skickar några bilder på ”Ronja och Birk” vid Mattisforsen. Hur går det med läsningen av Ronja Rövardotter?
Jag är säker på att du klarar det fint. Det är en underbar bok och eftersom du har sett filmen är det lättare att läsa boken. Själv försöker jag läsa Isabell Allende på spanska, men det är svårt! Trots att jag läst dem på svenska.
Jag hör av mej när jag kommer till BA, för det vore roligt att få träffa er där.

Our faithfull ( or faithfool) tango student. Comes from Lulea.
Has been to our tango courses all over northern Sweden ( we met in Solleftea, then in Harnosand, then twice in Pitea) and even followed us to... Riga!
Very applied- all the workshops, private classes. Has an ambition to surprise me in tango.
Thomas is German but it's fun to speak Swedish with him!Maybe therefore!

And of course, there is Siv ( our old student and the longest tango dancer in Norrland) coming from Gotenburg, how dare she exclaime this year" Aisha, you remember my name!"- of course I do, even though I am tehre only once a year..., there is Gun, a real Lappland woman from Kiruna- we remember her coming over to Pitea 2 years ago, driving from Kiruna and back for our classes and there is Goran from Stokholm..

Sven. Already mentioned. Alma mater of Solleftea tango. An ex mayor, present tanguero. An excelent cook ( salmon), chofeur, nubbar companion. Now, without splendid company of his dog Vile. I'm glad I have had the opportunity of having you as guests in my house, a part of our picknick and as travel company! Thanks to you I've met a lot of lovely people as well as giving me the opportunity of improving my vals and milonga. It's a pity I don't remember a thing!But I know the knowledge is there, it will pop up from my memory at a moment I don't expect. Hopefully sooner than later. (That's not only for my memory, that's also for our meeting again.)I will follow your tour through Europe on the internet!Vile gives you his common welcome bark!

Hej!Jo tack, jag mår ganska bra nu. Har börjat vänja mig att vara utan Vile, men fortfarande så händer det att jag av gammal vana pratar med honom när jag lämnar bilen. Jag brukade alltid säga "Jag kommer snart" när jag lämnade honom ensam.Men det är så det är här i livet.Tack för bilderna, jag tog mig friheten att lägga ut bilden av dig och Victor med frälsarkransen (livbojen) på Båthuset på nätet, då Österforse Byalag har bjudit in oss tangodansare till sommarcafé nu på söndag.Njut av semestern och hoppas att ni får bra väder. Här har det regnat nästan hela månaden, himlen har gråtit, jag vet inte om det är för Vile eller för att ni tog solen med till England.Ha det bra och vi hörs igen!/SvenE


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Tristin said...

I don't know you, and you don't know me, but I really enjoyed reading about your adventure in Sweden!!! Thanks for posting. My dream is to go to Sweden one day.

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