Karasjok, Karigasniemi and the Sami Culture

11 Dec

After we visited Kautokeino we took a jaunt through Karajsok to see another side of the Sami culture –  the working culture of the north. We dragged our giant suitcases through the snow and boarded the bus again, escaping the new minus 15 degree temperatures. We passed through the Norwegian mountains – and what I thought was a 11.30am sunrise turned out to be an 11.30am sunset! Pictures are here, it was a stunning morning =)

Once we reached Karasjok we stopped by the NRK Sami Radio station and got a tour from the quirkiest, funniest guy – not what I was expecting, and it really brightened up the trip for me. I was feeling a little tired and sick by this point. The tour really emphasised the importance of radio and media for the Sami culture – for improving communication through different communities and developing the Sami language. They’re really into improving the accessibility to radio and television services for the Sami community, especially children. Their kids’ tv set was the best part and I wouldn’t have stayed there and made glitter animals had I the chance.

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After this we went to a completely contrasting place – to a tourist shop full of cheesy Norwegian flags and fridge magnets (okay, I bought a bumper sticker with a moose on it, but that was all!). I’ve really grown to dislike these kinds of shops and tend to just buy something little with the name of the place on it, proof that I’ve been there or something.

Then to contrast again we popped into the Sami parliament building on the way out of town! They were holding an important conference and there were lots of important people walking around. I knew very little about the Sami culture before I arrived in Finland and I really enjoyed seeing the working culture as well as the one which tourism presents – we met many intelligent, active Sami who were incredibly keen to chat to us. We were such a diverse group and I’m sure that they found us as fascinating as we found them!

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We didn’t stay in Karasjok for the night but plowed on to Karagasniemi, back in Finland. It was like coming home to see the signs in Finnish again. We got a room in a ten bed cabin with the other girls and I managed to snag a room with one of my friends for a bit of chill time. However, we had just settled down to our essays when our teacher knocked on our door and said that we could go iceskating if we wanted – me and my friend had both recently obtained some iceskates and it was our new obsession. He offered to drive us to the local school to skate, an offer we couldn’t turn down, so we grabbed our skates and set off. Although not the point of the study trip this was probably my favourite part – we had the rink to ourselves and had such a blast. And I didn’t fall!

The next morning I was feeling even worse and nearly skipped the trip to the reindeer farm and the subsequent hike, but I’m glad I didn’t. Although the blood spattered snow from a recent reindeer slaughter made me feel a little queasy the fresh (FRESH) cold air made me feel better and the hike was beautiful. I should say ‘hike’, because the snow was so far up our legs that we managed only twenty minutes or so.

We hiked to see the beautiful Sulaoja fountain that never freezes and it a sacred place for the Sami. Many go there to be baptised and our teacher invited us to drink the water. Usually I have a policy to drink only bottle water when travelling (because I’m a germaphone) but I felt invigorated by the walk and the daredevil in me was awakened by it. It was pretty good water!

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Then to Inari we went, the last stop of the trip!

 

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