It was close to the half way point during our Europe trip and we were all feeling a little weary. We needed a little rest and relaxation so we headed to Sweden. Sweden is mysteriously not included on the eurorail route but our method around that was to just not buy tickets. The only problem with this is that you are on a train with assigned seats and you will need to move maybe a dozen times or more during the trip from Denmark to Stockholm. This wouldn’t be so bad normally, as long as the people are friendly which they definitely are in Sweden, except for the fact that we had just slept in the park in Copenhagen playing a derivative of bat spin relay and we were very tired and slightly perturbed every time someone woke us up. We did try to play a game of chess with a home made chess board and pieces out of paper which was ruined with a single cough. Or was it a sneeze?
The destination was Bro, a very small town about an hour out side of Stockholm. The Swedish side of my family has a very darling country house about an hours walk from this small town Bro, where Anika Sorenstrom is from. This is where I first tried out hitch hiking. The country house is a quaint little cottage split into two parts. One part has the living room and kitchen with a main bedroom and the other part has a room with two bunk beds and a dry shitter. A dry shitter is the technical term used for a big hole in the ground that has a toilet sitting on top of it and every now and then you need to churn the shit so the pile doesn’t get to high and threaten to touch your boludos. There are a few neighbors who tend to stick to themselves. People tend to move to this type of place to get away from the crowd and avoid creating a crowd at all costs.
We would spend the days drinking low percentage alcohol, cutting down a tree, killing bees, playing a form of batchee ball, and cliff jumping into the lake. Each of these activities is a story in itself but I do not want to get distracted from the point here. A problem I have always had is that I tend to wake up early, or at least earlier than the people around me. One of the mornings at the country house was no different. I awoke around 7 or 8 and it was clear I would be waiting for a while until the others would rise. I decided to go for a wash in the lake on my own.
This lake is magnificent. I do not know what it is called but in the early morning light and with it’s extremely still water shimmering, the image is embedded into my head forever. It is a very large lake being many kilometers long and maybe two kilometers across. I stripped naked and jumped in the freezing cold lake sure that there was nobody around. I climbed back up on the rock and basked in the glorious Swedish sun. Something we miss in California is the ability to gaze into a clear sky and peer into the horizon as far as the curvature of the earth will allow. Unless you stand above 14000 feet on the top of Mt. Whitney.
One problem with traveling the European continent with 4 other guys and sharing sleeping space with each other is that it can be difficult to find any “alone time”. Considering the beautiful scenery, the complete aloneness, and the early morning hour, I thought that this would be a good time. The warming sun on my naked body, the slightly slanting rock poising my body towards the large open lake, I couldn’t think of a better time or place. So I began.
Everything was going as expected. There have only been a few times in my life where things haven’t gone as they should during these moments but the people who caused these moments know who they are and they can write their own story. Then at the eight minute mark, something happened. From across the lake, I heard the most aggressive laughter I have ever heard. Almost as if Santa Claus himself had heard the funniest joke in his life. It started low and steady and continued for about 30 seconds. I immediately stopped what I was doing and started to gaze across the lake. I couldn’t see anybody but it was definitely nerve racking. Maybe they had a telescope or binoculars or something. I don’t know what could be so funny for a Swedish guy, likely portly due to the throaty laugh, at this hour of the day. Eventually he subsided and I waited for a minute or two. I expected to have some camera crew come up on me saying I was on candid camera or something but it never happened. I started again and finished in a rather disappointing fashion not sure if the guy was still watching.
Later that day, with the other guys, as we were jumping off the same rock into the lake, I told them the story. They laughed equally heartily until I menitoned where they were standing.