Sweden you say?

Posted from Halmstad, Halland County, Sweden.

Life can throw some interesting things your way when you’re least expecting it. And if you pay close enough attention you’ll see just how keen the universe’s sense of humour is. Like LOL keen. Like punch me in the gut keen. Like really, stop. I get it.

Before I left for my adventure to SE Asia I had plans to wind up in Italy around June to sort of be a steward of a house for a friend’s family. But life, she has other plans. I’m not sure the arsenic in the water supply is necessary. I mean, how unoriginal, Life. But needless to say it’s enough of a deterrent to keep me away from Italy.

And so this is a lesson on why having a Plan B is important. Even a pretend Plan B.

Not exactly a picture representing Sweden, but definitely my thoughts.

Not exactly a picture representing Sweden, but definitely my thoughts. (An actual man-hole cover in Halmstad.)

Enter Sweden.

After a brief visit to Paris and a few weeks in England visiting friends and family I hopped a plane with Norwegian Airlines to Copenhagen. This Danish city was a two-hour train ride away from Halmstad, a well-known Swedish town famous for it’s beautiful beaches and posh visitors. Why Halmstad, you ask? I’m certainly not posh. When I was in New Zealand I met a Swedish couple who call this little west coast hamlet home. At least in the summertime. What’s more, they work at the tiny dropzone, Halmstad Fallskärmsklubb, at the city’s airport. It’s the second smallest dropzone in Sweden. It’s only open Monday to Friday, which means on the weekends we’ll be going to Skydive Skåne, a bigger dropzone to the east of us. Here I am, packing parachutes once again. You’re sneaky, Life.

So in one week, what have I seen? I suppose telling you all the minute details about the hangar and the clubhouse would be boring. But they are details I can be very elaborate with. For instance, they have an actual clubhouse! With a working kitchen and sink and shower and flat screen. The hangar isn’t much to brag about, especially since there’s no padding on the ground. But there is this magnificent light-wall in the old rigging room (it used to be owned by the army) that I think was lost on everyone but me. Not to mention the old harness machine rusting away under a tarp outside. That made me sad.

Anna cutting my hair in the cabin.

Anna cutting my hair in the cabin.

I have been into town to shop. It turns out that the clothing I brought to SE Asia is not sufficient enough for the weather here in Sweden. Summer? Not exactly. The shopping area is small in Halmstad, but it has a quaint antique feeling of something you’d expect to find in a Sweedish town. The buildings are largely stone and stacked side-by-side in that cookie-cutter fashion of yore. But they all look different which is either due to modernization or new construction over the years to fill in the gaps.

The beach here is amazingly popular. While the sea is colder than an antarctic soda, people come from all over, including Denmark and Germany, to laze on this sandy expanse. During large events 20,000 people may gravitate to this Swedish icon. The area is also very popular with surfers and kite-boarders. I imagine they have 7mm wetsuits. I’ve yet to see these mythical creatures, but I’m told they exist.

At the beach.

At the beach.

Ikea is everywhere here. It’s the Walmart of Sweden, or so it seems. And everyone uses Snuz (pronounced snooze,) a tobacco product akin to chew. Instead of cigarette butts everywhere, there are tiny snuz pouches littering the ground. I hear some people actually fall asleep with it under their lip. And if you’ve been using it for a long time, a little pocket forms under your lip – a snuz pocket. On another note, everyone speaks English, so I’ve learned next to no Swedish. Food is ghastly expensive. And I’ve only been able to use my bus pass once – as the bus drivers went on strike.

I did go see a doctor here. I ran out of minocycline while in Indonesia and have basically been off my RA meds for nearly two months. And I can tell. A lot. They charged me $200 to see the doctor. And then the doctor told me Sweden doesn’t carry minocycline, at least Halmstad doesn’t, and then they refunded me my money, minus $15 for some sort of processing fee. This one makes me curious, Life.

10:30 p.m.

10:30 p.m.

One other thing about Sweden – the sun. The sun rises at 4 a.m. and sets around 11 p.m. It doesn’t even really get dark during those five hours. Makes me shudder at what winter is like.

There was a tiny hangup shortly after I got Halmstad, as well. The house we were staying in was quite small and owned by one of my friend’s mothers. Within a week of my arrival, the whole family arrived, which in turn led to our quasi-eviction. Luck would have it (I see what you did there, LIfe) that we had just transported a mass of bunkbeds from Skydive Skåne to the dropzone for the Midsommar Boogie – a skydiving event that drew about 50 jumpers to little Halmstad. So for at least a little bit I didn’t have to worry about keeping a roof over my head. Which would be wonderful if the sun would stay down and let me sleep.

Home sweet home.

Home sweet home.

After the boogie we stayed at the airport for one week – quietly. We cooked, watched movies and watched a lot of rain fall. The following week, however, a flying event was happening and the clubhouse was being used by pilots. So we packed up our things and moved out to Skåne. I had been there the weekend before, so I picked a good old spot in one of their bunkhouses to sleep, again. And then I looked to see if the same derelict sleeping bag was still lurking around.

It was around this time that I noticed I was not making as much money as I’d hoped. It’d been almost seven months since I’d really worked and my bank account was beginning to make me cry. Plus, my friends plans kept changing. One day we were all at the dz and the next we were in Halmstad. And then an hour later we were to move to a different dz and then an hour after that no one had any plans and then we were back where we started.

Skydive Skåne's hangar.

Skydive Skåne’s hangar.

Enter Plan C.

I decided it was time to part ways. What was I expecting? When one shows up at a dropzone right at the beginning of the season, one cannot expect a lot of work, especially a dropzone that averages 150 tandems a season. Even though Skåne is willing to give me work on the weekends, I feel guilty taking work away from the packers who have been paying their dues for the past few years there. I love seeing my friends, but Plan B just isn’t working. So now what?

Lucky for me I had already guaranteed myself a slot packing at the Vector Festival in Chalon sur Saône in France from July 9th to 14th. Ticket booked to Paris. Check. But what to do until I leave Sweden? And where to from there? Well played, Life. Well played.

Enter Oslo.

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