This morning we left Saariselka and caught the bus to Inari – about 40 kilometers further north in Lapland. Inari has a cultural centre and a museum dedicated to the traditional culture of the original indigineous inhabitants of Lapland, the Sami people.
Departing Saariselka, we were met by the same kind of scenery we had most of the way to Saariselka: forests. At two places, the traffic was brought to a halt because of reindeer on the highway, in one case a whole family of them with young ones.
Arriving in Inari, a town with a population of about 300, we checked in to our accomodation, which was one of row of small houses/huts at the edge of a lake in a kind of tourist park. Just outside the office was a modern replica of a Sami tent which is identical to the tepee which was used by the indigineous inhabitants of northern America (the so-called ‘red indians’).
Then we went into the town with the idea of getting a meal at the local hotel. One look at the menu convinced us to go the supermarket instead (we have cooking facilities in our hut): besides the prices, it was unfortunately pretty standard fair for Finland: reindeer, fish, pizza and hamburgers.
I was expecting/hoping to see some of the Sami people, but there are only a few individuals here amongst the overwhelmingly Finnish population – despite the cultural centre and musuem. Either they are living further out of town, or, they have integrated with the local Finnish population.
A strange situation really: I’m interested in the Sami culture and how they lived their traditional life style – especially in a part of the world with such extreme winters – but I also want to see Sami people in today’s Finish society.
We are staying here for two days and doing some walking, before heading further north to Utsjoki, a town near the border of Norway.
Perhaps here we will find a community of Sami here……
The sami were reindeer herders, their herds often having hundreds of animals.