Tale from the trail (13): it’s all about the people

While cycling we must have met hundreds of people, almost all of them friendly and helpful. Some people you forget about after a while, no matter how nice they were. Others are engraved in your memory for ever. This is one of those people.

We were having a lovely day and managed to cycle quite some distance when we started to look out for a camping spot. Some days you find one within a couple of minutes, other days you cycle for another hour and still haven’t found an appropriate spot. Unfortunately, that day we didn’t find a spot. We decided to have dinner and continue to look afterwards.  We were in a nice enough place, lots of nature, we sat next to the road and started to cook up some food.

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Sitting there an old man passed by on his bicycle. He had a dog in the basket on his handlebar, which made me smile. The dog looked so happy to sit there and be driven around by his master. He, the man, nodded at us and we nodded back. About twenty minutes later he passed by again. To this day we have no idea where he went, as far as we know there was nothing in that forest to go to. This time he stopped and started a conversation. The usual ‘what are you doing here?’, ‘where are you from?’,… we had a pleasant chat and he was on his way again.

Another ten minutes later we saw him come up again. He stopped and started chatting again. He said he was on his way home when he realized that he should have invited us to his place and came back to do just that. He clarified that he could not invite us to sleep in his house as he didn’t have a guest room, but we could camp in the garden if we wanted. It took us about two seconds to look at each other and agree that it sounded like a much better option than cycling on.

Cycling over to his house we started talking and I was surprised to find out that this old man was a professor teaching philosophy in the university in Stockholm. He uses the house we were going to now as a holiday getaway. I had just finished my masters in philosophy and meeting this man was such a great coincidence. We got to his house and were invited to stay in the garden shed instead of pitching our tent. An offer we happily accepted.

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We spent the night drinking home brewed liquor, talking philosophy and all in all having a great time. When finally it was time to go to bed we retreated to our garden shed and set up camp between an old washing machine and a rattling freezer. Lying in bed, feeling a bit dizzy from the alcohol we saw ants crawling everywhere. They weren’t the small kind we have at home but full sized forest ants. We looked at each other and back at the ants. Should we pack up and move or stay? We concluded that, as they were black ants, it was okay to stay. I felt uneasy for a few minutes but sleep got a hold of me soon enough. We did make sure to shake out our sleeping bags in the morning.

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