The next day after I left Christian I follow the street and hope to hitchhike to the city of Gimo, but nobody stops. It is about 24 kilometers to get there. Few people drive this small street and there are only a few courtyards and small scattered houses along the way.
I stop at one of the many farms to buy some fresh milk for strengthening. Since I don’t see anyone, I go to the big stable.
A woman becomes aware of me and asks what I want. I declare my wish. She throws her cigarette into a gulli, but doesn’t hit and ignores the fiery butt. Then she turns, takes a hammer and hits the bolt of a door so that all the critters in the barn – including me – flinch. She turns back to me, thinks, and says “I don’t have time for this”.
I meet Tim gardening in front of his house. As usual for Sweden, he greets me kindly and expectantly and gives me the opportunity to open a conversation. Maybe he’s just looking for a reason to delay work.
He says that he lives in the house with his father and has always lived there. Now he is a freelance computer scientist and has a hard time competing with cheap programming from India.
His best friend is sixteen and a hangover who looks at me suspiciously.
Tim’s relatives live here a maximum of 20 kilometers away. I feel a little pity for Tim, who will certainly not have an easy time finding a friend in this place.
I keep running and during my lunch break two Swedish hippies stop and take me to Gimo.
There I get myself a beer and food, find a toilet only in the local hospital and, on the recommendation of the hippies, run to a seaside resort where I swim, wash my things, enjoy the sun and Skype with my friends for a long time until Christian leaves again appears in the bush and joins.
He is quite hungry and dehydrated and is eating up my supplies.
Lesson about Sweden: Work moral
The Swedes have a very strong sense of community. So it is not surprising that individual ambitionists are undesirable. You don’t like to see someone boxing with their elbows and having great ideas. Modesty is the key word. The Swedes hate profiling. One does not work overtime because he could make the others look bad. If someone has an innovation, it will be distributed to the group. This tradition also has its own name: Jantelagen
The next day we spend half at the lake and at the supermarket, then we agree to go somewhere else and interrupt the Upplandsleden.
In the supermarket we meet a Swedish couple we met on the way and got good tips.
We also get the information that buses (theoretically, because tickets are only available online and are not controlled) are free because of Corona. Then we grab the first next bus and drive to Öregrund on the coast.
We see a ferry to an opposite island of Gräsö, which is free, and we also take it. There is a bus that takes us to the southern tip. Like a large taxi, since we’re the only ones, we tell the driver where we want to go. There we find a nice place next to a boathouse. The owner can be bribed quickly with a beer and gives us his blessing. The evening comes to an end with a campfire directly on the beach and a grill sausage. A fascinating number of birds sound from the forests and the lake. Gulls, arctic terns, great crested grebes, cormorants can be observed.
The next morning we have to get up early because only the school bus leaves at 7:00 am, otherwise there is none. We have breakfast at the harbor and take buses to Stockholm because we have a crazy idea: let’s try to get to Aland. Who has heard of this small country in the Baltic Sea?
Lesson about Sweden: Living
The country is socialist, even if there are multiple parties and you don’t see red flags. The feeling of community is very great. Everything belongs to the state. Also the country and the house, you only buy the exclusive right of use. There are no horrific rents. There are about a handful of construction companies that build houses. However, these or private owners cannot let whoever they want live there and cannot charge the prices as they want. The state has a lottery system that draws tenants from their homes. The rent is determined by the number of square meters. There is a sequence system for buying an apartment. Parents therefore put their children on the list for apartments in Stockholm after birth, which is of course long. If it is your turn after years, you can either accept or cancel each apartment. The priority is always the prospect with the longest waiting time.