The Arctic Circle crosses Finland in the city of Rovaniemi. More particularly – in Santa Claus Village. Snowdrifts and Christmas decoration guaranteed. As well as a whole day darkness.
My first volunteering place was huskies and horses farm in Inari and I was asked to hurry up because they became very busy on New Year days. There was a group in facebook for Rovaniemi and Ivalo passengers and drivers. This kind of information you could get only by chance from local friend. Once again
thanks Joburg, the greatest place to make friends all over the world.
So my friend Johanna find a call for car delivery from Rovaniemi to Ivalo for the Sixt company. They were happy to see my Russian driver’s licence because it meant I could drive on ice and snow. But I gave them a hard time when tried to figure out where the steering wheel and pedals were, because – remember? – I am Russian from South Africa. It means I didn’t see snow for a long time and I get used to drive on the other side of the road! I drove away before they started asking too many questions.
I stopped for coffee at the first shining in the dark place on my way, about 30 km out of Rovaniemi. Eventually it turned to be Santa Claus Village. Even if mobile device is not the most fantastic photo camera for taking pictures in the dark, all decorations are still visible.
There is a huge queue waiting to say ‘hello’ and take a picture with Santa in his office, but you better know – this old man is sitting in a few hidden corners of the Village. I don’t like this kind of photos, but they just give it to me for free once heard that I was going to volunteer in Lapland.
This “coffee” took me a few hours in which a big snow storm came. I was just about to say that it became dark, but it was not true – it was dark before, because it was the Arctic or Polar night. In fact, this night lasts a month, from December to January, when there is no sun at all. Everything was ups and down. The Moon was shining in the afternoon, but sometimes it was not visible at night even in the clear sky full of stars. If it was visible, so every time in different places, unbelievable.
Oh yes, Polar lights, Aurora, they call it Aurora Borealis as in legeng. It is like a rainbow – starts somewhere, but not everyone sees it even if it is just above one’s roof. And it stops when it stops. Therefore you need to jump out of the door in minus 30 every half an hour every single clear cold night, face north and check the sky. Otherwise what did you fly from Africa for?
My best Aurora happened like that. I went to the bed about the midnight, but – hang on a sec – forget to check Aurora. I quickly put some ugly clothes on and got my nose out of the door. Something definitely was going to happen, there was a light smog with stars on background. One step out, another one, and I already on the lake, just in case. And this case started. I was the only person here and it was scaring because the lights became bigger and bidder, lower and lower, almost in front of my face. Then vertical green strips ran around like an accordion. Or piano. Scaring stuff if it happens almost around your head. I really wanted to lay down but I didn’t, of course. To be honest I wanted it to stop because I was freezing in my light clothes but to leave before it would stop itself definitely was not the right thing to do. After almost an hour it was definitely the right thing and I turned to my cottage. At the last minute green lights placed above the roof, turned into the red and… I jumped into the house completely frozen. So yes, I did see it.
If somebody will tell you that he saw beautiful Aurora and it was huge, tell him that his Aurora was not big enough. Because huge Aurora is scary.