Where we are, is where we are meant to be...
I'm sorry friends, for such a long hiatus in writing everyone with an update. Our last post was written in Buenos Aires, Argentina over the Christmas holiday. A place so far away, literally and figuratively, to where we are today. I'll try and catch you up.
Ville and I flew down and lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for two months, mid-November to mid-January, so that I could work on writing a book and Ville could work on the documentary he is making. After completing a bike ride from Alaska to Argentina, I was so inspired by all the kindness of those we met along the way, those that helped us, let us camp in their yards, stay in their homes, use their showers and spent time with us, to write about it. Without all the kindness of so many, our adventure would have been so very boring. We also learned so much along the way. Enough to fill the pages of a book and to try and share it with others.
Because I have a job, I work as a real estate agent/broker in Bend, Oregon, and also keep a packed social calendar, Ville suggested we move to somewhere outside Bend so we can both focus on our personal projects. Why Buenos Aires? Because it was the place we flew after we completed our Ride, made friends there, enjoyed the City and it would be an affordable place for us to rent and live for a couple months. We had a great time there (scroll down to see the last blog post for Argentina), went to horse races, football games, horse polo matches, visited friends and most importantly, completed about 1/3 of the Book and a good portion of the Documentary!
When our two months time was up, Ville and I flew back to Portland, Oregon and had some quality time with my Brother, Sister, her Husband and our Niece and Nephew. Braydon is a fantastic climber and Skylar is a wild and sassy girl. Ville drove me to Bend, where I continued my work on the book, while house sitting for a friend, and resumed helping friends buy or sell their houses. I also managed a trip up to Mt. Baker with my friend, Sara, to take an avalanche training course (I thoroughly enjoy snowboarding and want to get more into the back country and an AVI course is a must). Ville flew to Finland, where he is originally from, and spent some quality time with his Mom, Dad and friends. A week of the time he spent sick as a dog, visiting the hospital twice, and had to cancel a planned trip to Spain with his Brother, his Wife and our Nephew. After he felt better, he booked a weekend trip to Prague, Czech Republic with his Mom and Dad. Returning to Lahti, Finland to ice fish with his Dad and to Helsinki to visit a bunch of his childhood friends, he was able to get a lot of time with everyone.
He flew back to Portland, after almost a month abroad, where we spent a week with my parents in Portland and again, all my siblings. Back to Bend we went and both of us went back to work. We moved into a temporary furnished rental while we sorted out our next plan. Just a few days later, we got the tragic news that Ville's Dad passed away. Ville's Mom and Dad have lived over twenty years on a fairly remote lake in Lahti, a city an hour north of the capitol, Helsinki. His Mom is a fierce knitter and his Dad loved to fish and chop wood. His Dad was out ice fishing, as he did for years alone, but fell through the ice crossing an unseen crack in the ice, and drown. His Mom was the one who found him after he did not return, and luckily his Brother and his family was able to fly to Finland from Norway, that same day to be there with her.
My amazing parents helped us to book last minute flights to Finland a week later, so many of our friends brought us cards, food and called to check on us. For all of you we are so very grateful. After we landed in Iceland, we received news that the USA had locked down it's borders. We arrived in Finland on Thursday, the funeral was Saturday, and Sunday Ville's Brother and his family had to fly back to Norway early because they were closing Norway's border. It has been a very difficult time, but COVID-19 has really complicated things further. Ville and I spent a week in Lahti at his Mother's house, being there for her and trying to help with everything. We were unable to get out of the house other than short walks and all businesses have closed here as well. I feel so sorry for Ville and his Brother trying to sort through all the paperwork and banking issues right now, with everything closed. As you can imagine, this is a very challenging time for Ville's Mom and any prayers, healing energy, cards or messages you can send would be so greatly appreciated.
Because his Mom has a modest sized one-bedroom house, I am renting an apartment in downtown Helsinki so that I can continue on my quest to finish writing this book. Ville has stayed at his Mom's house to help her. And then, three days after I came to Helsinki, the government shut all entry and exit from the city to keep the spread of the virus contained. Although I completely agree with the closure, Ville and I have not seen or hugged each other in three weeks. And I will tell you, it has been one of the most challenging times we have been through. Loss and grief are difficult enough, but being apart is a whole other level of difficulty right now. I am always thinking of those so much less fortunate than us, those losing loved ones they cannot be there with, those struggling to put food on the table and pay bills. I am grateful we have each other, even separated.
While alone here in Helsinki, I have met with a few friends to go for walks, while social distancing, borrowed a bicycle from a friend and even got to play soccer/football with two kids I use to work with when Ville and I lived here 9 years ago. Thank you to all our friends who have reached out to me and us. I am so grateful for all of you. Word on the street is that, because of the lock down, the numbers of cases has decreased enough to re-open the border of Helsinki soon. If this happens, Ville is going to come spend a few days with me here in the City. I really hope so, I could really use a big hug from him. Until then, I find solace in knowing that nothing is permanent and this too shall pass. Challenges are always great learning lessons and we will grow stronger on the other side of all this. Reach out to those you love, tell them you love them and appreciate them. No better time than now. And until next time, hopefully when I am reunited with Ville, keep on keepin' on!
K.G. & Ville
In New Zealand on bikes.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson