3 In Travel Stories

A Tale of Finland and Fast Friends (The Setup)

I have mentioned in prior posts that certain experiences only happen because of, and in direct relation to other events. Our decisions often become patterns that define us. One good decision can often beget a fine result, and on down the line. On the contrary, the inverse is also true. Choosing negativity as your default often leads one to becoming the perpetual victim. You are what you choose, and you choose what you are. It’s circular thinking, sure, but as The Lion King correctly pointed out in the fine 90’s, that’s the circle of life!

Our Nordic tale of friendship begins as so many do, at an Asado-style-closed-door-restaurant (Steaks by Luis) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. To paint a picture of the place and setting, check out a prior post of ours on this fine establishment. You’re back, nice! Continuing on now.

My wife and I were celebrating my birthday and decided to really do it up! Little did we know, we’d not only consume a prime cut of meat; but also, make some forever-friends from one of the farther corners of the world: Heini and Iiro (pronounced: Hay-Knee and EE-ro) from Finland. They were traveling throughout South America and had landed randomly on the same decision we made: consuming beef on a Monday, in a loft in a faraway place.

Our decisions caused us to come into each other’s lives and our intentions have caused us to remain there. The night was really one to remember, starting at 8:45 pm and going well into the night before the lofts doors saw our leave. Conversation was easy and vivid that night. How could it not be? Every couple of minutes seemed to introduce a new taste, an interesting tidbit, or personal relic from completely different places in origin. Many people were in attendance from varying locations and world-views. I love to talk anyways, so the feast was a feast in much the same vein as the conversation topics: Abounding and Intriguing.

All along the table seating 30 people with ease and room to spare were conversations buzzing with new travels travelled, great realizations expressed and funny stories unfolding. In our region of the table I had the distinct fortune of sitting next to Heini, a tall, strong and outgoing Finn full of personal awareness and thoughtful perspectives. She knew herself inside and out, her thoughts and why she thought them which made conversation between her, C and I almost harder to turn off more than anything.  Iiro, her husband who complemented her well, sat directly across the table. A grand occasion with fine food and nothing more required of you than to eat in leisure is as fine a place to form a friendship as any, and this was no exception.

As lovers of culture and the differences that ensue, my wife and I picked Heini’s brain of what she thought of this, how she would prefer that, what things were important to her, how her culture’s distinctions would compare with our own. When the end of the dinner came, we exited together and all four concluded that 1 am was simply too early to call it a night. So, we found a nearby establishment and picked up where we left off, this time with a little more sway into finding out about Iiro, as we were now privy to better proximity (no longer requiring him to shout across the table buzzing with 10-12 other conversations).

We had a fair amount in common, you know, in the things that mattered. We all desired to learn continuously, to travel as we could and felt that one could never know too many good people (there’s always room for more)! Amidst that secondary conversation, C and I mentioned that we were going to be in their general neck of the woods, so to speak, during the upcoming summer. Being Norwegian/Swede, returning to the motherland has always been towards the top of my travel to-do list. So, in telling them of our trip to Norway that instantly threw out the notion that we should visit them in Finland.

Pause.

Do you know what kind of people invite you to stay with them after only one night of conversation while both of you are in a foreign country? The best kinds!

Unpause.

After our natural American distrust of a kind offer for nothing, they clued us in to a cultural point of reference for the Finnish way: A Finn will never offer what they do not hope you will take them up on in the first place. If they say it, they mean it. It literally is. that. Simple. With Finns. We were kind of shocked to say the least, but quickly recovered and took them up on it. Sure! Why wouldn’t we come stay at your home and cabin thousands of miles away in Finland after just meeting you both mere hours prior here in Argentina? Sounds silly, but making those plans of pulling off the addition of Finland in our future summer travel agenda seemed only entirely natural. Good things want to happen to us, but sometimes our distrust of that sentiment for oftentimes what amounts to incredibly good reasons, rob us of those opportunities and experiences.

It didn’t really seem odd or out of place to trust them on the offer. Finns are that way, their culture is such that you like them quickly, and they do things that make you trust them to the nines. More to come on that.

-L

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Claudia
    February 6, 2017 at 1:51 am

    This. This is what the world is missing!! True and honest friendship that is not contrived or based on just externals but on the love of people and their differences and similarities. So beautiful that you had this experience and that it carried over into another wonderful experience in their/your homeland where reunited you forged a relationship that will probably last for a lifetime! Awesome share 💜

    • Reply
      courtnygaard@gmail.com
      February 6, 2017 at 2:59 am

      Thanks for reading Claudia! You are right, it’s a beautiful part of humanity when humans form friendships that are for no other purpose other than just being friends and learning from one another.

      • Reply
        Claudia
        February 6, 2017 at 3:02 am

        I was intrigued by the story!! Thanks for sharing the details from start to finish =)

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