Kevo or bust!

That’s right, peeps!  I’ve officially decided that I’ll be working out of the University of Turku’s Kevo field station (kay-voh).  The closest grocery store is 30km to the north in the small village of Utsjoki (oots-yah-key), and the closest post office is 150km to the south in the airport-worthy town of Ivalo (ee-vah-low).  Those of you who know me can understand how much of a quandary this is for me – is the bigger inconvenience the distance to a food source, OR the distance to the place where I can buy postcard stamps??

Before relocating to Kevo after Helsinki, I spent a few days in Rovaniemi getting logistics taken care of (bank, supplies shopping, etc.).  I stayed at this super cute and surprisingly thrifty B&B (an accommodation option I had forsaken after a really creepy experience at a B&B in Homer, Alaska two years ago).  I had a relatively painless reintroduction to B&B’s, as I was staying at this one by myself, and I opted out of the second ‘B’, so there were minimal potentially-creepy interactions.  I also had a private sauna, which was awesome.

In true Kim-fashion, I managed to maim myself in a rather inconvenient way (as opposed to those super convenient maimings).  At 11pm the night before I was catching the 5:30am bus to Kevo, I sliced my finger to the bone while opening the packaging on my new field knife!  Who knew a 5€ kitchen knife was that sharp?  I then had a little bit of an adventure at a Finnish ER, mostly only harrowing trying to figure out what the late-night options for getting stitches were (ER only), looking up directions (all of this one-handed, semi-panicking typing), calling a cab to get there, and then figuring out how to fill in the forms once I was there.

Despite the superficial frustrations and panic associated with my hospital trip, the strangest part of the whole experience was that when they finished stitching up my finger, the doctor and nurse cleaned everything up, and then simply left the room.  No words.  I sat there a while, wondering if I was meant to be waiting for something, namely instructions on how to take care of my finger, and how to pay my bill.  I eventually rather tentatively walked myself back to the nurses station, where I figured out in Finglish that I, too, was allowed to just walk out.  I imagine they’ll send me an invoice with my bill in the mail??  Socialized medical care is a little confusing to an American.  I was also not given any antibiotics, which I feel like would have been a given when getting stitches in America.  Kudos to the Finnish for not over-prescribing, but it would be untruthful of me to say that I don’t stare at my finger sometimes wondering if I’m getting a brandon-circa-2006-like infection.

The culprit (note I’m in there with it):

(NOTE: slightly graphic, although I waited a few days for it to look a bit better before photographing)

The damage:

I’ll have the stitches for a week, and until then I can’t bend my finger.  To help me prevent the bending, I tried to buy a finger splint, but they are ridiculously hard to find here, so I improvised with a popsicle stick I randomly had in my field kit.  Funny cultural observation: the DIY-nature of my splint was the accepted norm for Finns.  At all the pharmacies I tried, and with the Finnish people I talked to about splint options, everyone expressed surprise that I would be looking for a non-DIY version.  I was generously offered pencils, pens, wooden dowels, and tightly rolled paper to serve as my splint support.  I was really glad I found the popsicle stick, because my fingers are surprisingly short compared to most writing utensils…

Slightly less than whole, I was finally on my way to Kevo!  I’m including a few pictures from the bus trip up.  I saw a really vivid rainbow out the bus window, which seemed like a good omen.

A kesämökki (one of those summer getaway cabins) somewhere between Rovaniemi and Ivalo.  This is a large one, as there are usually only 2 buildings (cabin and sauna).

And there was a sculpture in Ivalo on the subject of gold mining, which is what this area of Finland is known for.  I particularly like the dude off to the side chilling/eating lunch?  It’s nice to know the Laplanders build their respect for free time into their statues depicting work…

A small resort of cabins on the side of a river in between Ivalo and Kevo.  Gotta love the super long Finnish words!  This one means ‘snowmobile’.  Too bad the sign doesn’t tell you anything else.  Is this where you park them?  Rent them?

And then I finally made it to Kevo!  This is the mailbox where the bus pulls off the highway to let me out (the only roadside indication that I’ve arrived).  You have to walk down the steep road you can see start in the background, then do a short boat trip out to the peninsula that the station is situated on.

The field station is quite large, as far as these things go.  I’m staying in the Värri cabin, and the cafeteria is in the Main Building, or Kestilä Päärrakennus.  I’m cultivating a relationship with the head chef, hoping he’ll teach me the secrets of Finnish cooking and baking.  I’ll keep you posted on project-Finnish-cooking.  Until then, I’m discovering how difficult it is to do field work, type, and wash dishes one-handed.  Lesson in humility: check!