It does not matter if you are 16 or over 70 when you go for a trip with an open mind. The Teambuilding trip to Kautokeino became a great experience and a memory for life with sami temperament, culture, traditions and nature experiences.
For most, it was very early morning on Friday to catch an early flight to Alta from Gardermoen. Everything went according to plan until we land in Finnmark. Where a suitcase was missing. Enough clothes and warm clothes are important in the cold north, so it was shopping in Alta for tour-leader Rita before we could go any further. According to Johan the guide, the Lapps only take of their Long Johns when they go to the south, but use wool socks in sandals...
The drive from Alta to Kautokeino takes about two hours. There was a planned lunch stop at Suolovuopmi mountain lodge along the way, and fried trout and homemade multebæris appealed to a hungry traveler. Somewhat delayed, but as the rest of the trip: you take time as it comes. «You are on a trip and should have fun, not stress by keeping time», said Johan the guide. He made both factual information, ghost stories, quick repartee and yoiks along the ride.
There is something magical about sitting tightly around a campfire in a traditional lavvo. Be served the finest bidos (reindeer soup) which is usually made for weddings and fire boiled coffee. Hearing Odd-Arne and Torill tell about traditions and strong ties to the family. De to er fetter og kusine, The two are cousins, but in Sami it is considered brother and sister. And they are both adept storytellers.
Funny stories about courting and dowry got the laughter out. Torill had a small wedding with only 650 guest. Usually between 1000 and 2000 guests are invited. Often to celebrate for three days. It was interesting to hear about the meaning of the yoik, and how it is unique for every person and changes through out life. Without understanding the words, we understood that one was calm and contemplative, while the other one was lively and not always as though through. Torill yoiked her daughter's yoiks as an example.
Full of bidos and lots of impressions, the night carried back out into the snowmobiles and sleds. The clouded weather ensured we did not see the northern lights, but that did nothing with so many other experiences to take with us.
On Saturday everyone was ready for the days adventure, well before we were picked up with snowmobiles and sleds outside the hotel. This time everyone was piled into open sleds, with the occasional getting off and back on due to the snow conditions. Which was nothing but a good warmup for the trials of Aslak's wilderness camp.
Aslak is almost as quick to remark that he is to drive reindeer. Regarding the latter, he has the two fastest times in reindeer racing in the world. It was, in other words much grinning during the morning, even when what he said about clothes, reindeer, sleighs, equipment and lasso was utmost serious.
We were divided into two groups and threw us out into the reindeer driving and lassoing. There were many who did quite well with the lassos, and the hit rate of reindeer horns were reasonably high. When it was time for plain games with winners and prices, the competitive nature showed itself in most. In the end, the two oldest adventurers were left in final, which had to be decided with re-throws. Edel threw first and missed barely. But Øystein took the victory with an elegant hit. Probably good for the peace in the home that she did not beat her husband, Edel concluded with a smile.
Reindeer driving was equally entertaining, albeit in a different way. Left foot on the skid, right knee on the sled, a rope on the sled to hold on with your right hand and control the reindeer with a rope in the left hand. A few good advice: Pull firmly on the steering rope if the deer tries to run away. Stay on the sled if it tips or if the deer runs away.
A little help to get the deer going, and then it carried away on their own around the track. In very different speeds. One deer walked on leisurely no matter how much the driver shouted. Another kept its speed up until it had passed the first place and then started walking leisurely as well.
Power food with boiled reindeer meat, potatoes and broth for lunch concluded the visit and was a good charge for the afternoon's adventures. Reindeer were replaced by scooters outside the hotel, and it was time for the snowmobile safari. Somewhat delayed, but it will take one as familiar as it gets.
Driving snowmobile yourself is much more fun than sitting on the sled. With a somewhat bad snow conditions, the adventurers got a few challenges along the way. Several got stuck during the trip. It was solved with good teamwork and a literal joint lift from the ones that were closest in the snowmobile party.
When we arrived at Suohpatjávri lavvo anyone who wanted to test their snowmobile skills on the ice were allowed. About 15 holes were drilled in the 50-60 cm thick ice and many tried their hand at ice fishing.
Odd-Arne had fired up in the lavvo, and the adventurers could both warm up, get fire boiled coffee and hot dogs. Nobody wanted to go back to the hotel, and the tour leaders had no rush getting back either. So it took towards night before the party returned in light snow.
Snowmobile suits were switched with fine clothing in the hotels restaurant Duottar Saturday evening. Sik for starter, reindeer filet for the main course and veiled samigirls for dessert all went down quickly. Around the table went the conversation about the days events, and an idea to join in on the spring moving of the reindeer was created. So maybe a few adventurers will join Odd-Arne and his family in two years.
Sunday came all too fast, and it was time to pack our bags, put them in the bus and head for Juhls' silversmith. A fantastisk building with fantastisk contents and a fascinating history. Since it was sunday, none of the silver smiths were working, but we got an interesting guided tour. Shopping happened as well, both silver jewelry and other things that are nice to have as a physical memento of the trip.
Other memories are abundant. The trip was the first to Finnmark for quite a few, and the experiences underways made many want to come back on their own, and we were several who would have loved to stay longer. After a solid burger lunch in Alta, there were no more prayers and the airport was next. And there we were reunited with Rita's suitcase which came back home with her.
The experiences also gives common ground for further contact with new acquaintances, and it will definitely be more of that between the 25 adventurers after Kautokeino too.