Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Aland nurtures body and soul

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The autonomous islands of Aland surprise with their versatility and breathtakingly  beautiful nature.

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I'm lying in the bath, my crinkled toes barely visible from behind the thick layer of foam.

It's quiet, apart from birds bursting into chirpy song every now and then. And warm. So warm. Sun burns with incredible intensity - it is only May, after all. The light is bright though it's almost 8 in the evening.

Aland 1

I stare out the window next to my bath that I've opened wide. The scrawny pine trees pushing through the barren rocks, sky that is so blue. I lift my head. startled.

Where am I? In Lapland?

Aland 2

The barren beauty of my surroundings bear eery resemblance to Lapland and for a moment I'm lost even to myself. Then the quiet gushing of the sea somewhere down below brings me back to reality. The archipelago. I'm in the archipelago. In Aland.

Aland 3

I lean back and everything that the these past days have entailed flashes through my mind. 

Just like that sea, I too am on my way. Those waves that are today gently caressing the rocks at the guest marina of Havsvidden... where were they yesterday? Where will they head off tomorrow? Nothing stands in their way, they're free to continue their journey anywhere in the world. 


This has been my first trip to Aland, an autonomous island located between Finland and Sweden. This place has taken me by surprise. Each one of the islands it consists of has a personality of their own. Aland is full of surprises, just waiting to be discovered.


How can it have taken me so long to discover this place; this place that has aleready made a home in my heart? It's won me over with its breathtakingly beautiful nature, wonderful people and beauty that soothes even the darkest corners of one's soul.

With its stubborness and uncompromising passion. With its creativity and laid back atmosphere. With its joie de vivre. 


I realize something. It's not the octopus that keeps me travelling in the search of new discoveries. It is this joy, this light, this zest for life that I miss in Finland. Just a little while back I rediscovered it in Cadiz, and now here.


Then another realization stops me.  All time I spend gazing lazily out the window; my eyes sweeping past those tree tops and skyline... all that time I thought of nothing. I wasn't frantically trying to get on top of anything: things on my to do- list, e-mails I should be sending, some feeds I should be updating. Nothing. Instead I've just been... present. 

Present in this moment. This moment I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.


I'm free from longing, questioning and performing. Right now there's nowhere I'd rather be. I'm right where I'm suppose to be.


Is this what they mean by mindfulness? 


I who have spent so long in the search for all sorts of things in all sorts of places; I who never really belong. I who feel most at home in places where there's nothing for me

Closest I've come to a standstill like this was years ago at a desert in Egyptian with Beduins. 


And here I am now: staring at the same view that throughout the history has been the place where my people came in search of inner peace. This was the church their souls longed for, long before the arrival of any churches. 


The thought is so absurd  burst out laughing. Nobody who knows me would believe me should I ever say something like that out loud. 


But there it is. 

I have come home.


So, where would you like to start the tour of Aland? You want to know more about this place? Or shall we start at the capital of Mariehamn?





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