Arctic Adventure (3)

February 7, 2009

Saturday, we clambered into our Volvo stationwagon around 11am to make the drive to the Jokkmokk for our the last day of the winter market. Arriving at 12.30 or 1pm or so, the first order of business was to visit Systemet where we selected enough bottles of wine and beer to tide us over for the weekend. The Jokkmokk Systemet was a miniature Swedish (and international tourist) madhouse. Bordering on frenzied chaos, people were shoving one another out of the way to get to the booze. (Shoving without apology is a Swedish custom I still haven’t acclimated to. It’s par for the course to get unceremoniously pushed or shoved out of the way – especially in the Systemet on a Saturday). While we were standing in line (in the queue), an old fellow bellowed something in Swedish. I asked Suzanne what he said since it’s so uncommon for Swedes to make a fuss. She told me he had yelled something like: “We’re Swedes, we stand in line.” She thought maybe someone had tried to jump the queue – one of a handful of actions that can cause riots here – it was probably a Canadian. After our Systemet adventure – a good hour later – we trundled off to see the reindeer races on the frozen lake. The market organizers had constructed a makeshift race course on the lake. The reindeer handlers had to wrestle the unhappy reindeers, holding them by their antlers which are apparently pretty sensitive, to the starting line. Two volunteers who had signed up in advance took their places on the sleds harnessed to their respective reindeer. The reindeers raced in pairs. Once released, they sped around the course, with their tongues lolling out of the sides of their mouths. There’s something almost bovine about them. It was hilarious. We watched the spectacle until our toes were frozen blue and then we made for the warmth of the beer tent, up the hill. The beer teepee was a welcome sight. Much more crowded than on Thursday we had to share a table with two German men. Magnus and I ordered Swedish lagers with smoked reindeer meat and loganberries and potatoes and cooked vegetables. I forget what Ele and Suzanne ate. After lunch, Magnus, Suzanne and I wandered the market. I made my first non-food or alcohol purchase – a Sami hunting knife with a birchbark handle for my brother, for the next time he goes hunting with his dog Abby. We met Ele at the local theatre at 4pm for a musical variety show featuring Sofia Jannok. Sofia was incredible – what a beautiful voice. The other musicians weren’t so hot. Dogge Doggelito was especially turd-awful. He’d be laughed off the stage anywhere else. Dogge was a middle-aged slimy-looking rapper dude with a sweat-stained button-down shirt that barely covered his pot-belly. I wanted to hurl whenever he gyrated his hips like a freaky belly dancer, but this crowd loved him. We headed back to Årrenjarka after the concert and made dinner and drank too wine… comme d’habitude.

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