Thursday, February 25, 2010

Inari and Siida

We were staying in Saariselkä, the most northerly ski resort in the world. We had read about Siida, a museum in Inari devoted to the Sami culture and also to the natural history of the region. The buses were going to Saariselkä from Inari were tricky, but on Wednesdays the museum runs a return bus to Saariselkä.

We caught the bus to Ivalo and had an hour wait there for the bus to Inari. There is not much in Ivalo, but we wandered into a clothing store that looked like a thrift shop, though all the merchandise was new. It was a store frozen in time. Chris had a successful Finnish conversation with the elderly couple in the store and we bought a Jussi sweater for him. Chris is wearing his new Jussi sweater in the top picture.

The bus from Ivalo to Inari was also the postal truck. The driver had perfect aim as he leaned over from the steering wheel to throw packages of mail into yellow boxes along the road. All the tourists got off the bus at Siida and the bus rumbled on heading farther north.

Siida is a large museum on Inari Lake and is the site of the oldest archeological finds in Lapland. We toured the exhibits in the museum. I have linked to the museum web site to give you some idea of what we saw. You can see here that the main part of the museum is one large hall with information about the plants and animals of Lapland around the outer circuit of the hall and information about the Sami on the interior of the exhibition.

Sophia did some sketches of the exhibits and I took some notes. One explorer of Lapland was Aubry de la Motraye who wrote about Lapland for George I in 1723. The illustrations reminded me of Le Page du Pratz and his book about the Natchez.

This part of Finland looks like a wonderful place to visit during the summer, but I did carefully read about the Räkkä season. The räkkä season is the blood sucking insect season and is apparently quite fierce.

I was also interested in reading about angelica, the wonder herb of Lapland. It was used as a tranquilizer and to prevent scurvy and treat other ailments.

We ate lunch at the museum, delicious reindeer soup with root vegetables. We also explored the outside area that is not open in the winter and bought some gifts before hopping on the small bus for the wild ride back to Saariselkä.

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