From: Emilio Gonzalez 
Subject: 7.17.00 - 15:46 - helsinki, finland

friday evening i hopped on an overnight ferry from stockholm to helsinki, a long
one, but with plenty of entertainment. there are thousands of islands around
sweden and finland, some large enough to host a decently sized town, some barely
big enough to fit a few birds - who no doubt get rather irritable around high
tide. it's a beautiful ride, for sure, watching the sun set in the mist of the
ocean, gasting those lovely, holy-looking rays of golden light on the countless
island as they pass by. as the dusk stretches on the islands take on a
mysterious, sometimes omious feel, as they slip by in the blue light and mist,
occasionally marked with a lonely lighthouse, silently sending it's beacon in the

in the sunlight, the islands are quite inviting, rocky in some parts, dense with
trees and brush in others. i'd love to have a small island, somewhere close to
helsinki or stockholm, with a small house and a dock, a little bit of land to
call my own as a getaway, a little refuge of a summer home. it would be quite
nice, i could be as loud or as quiet as i wanted, and it would be mine - not in a
consumerist, materialistic sense, but in a sense of freedom and security, a
solid, tangible realization of the "american dream" (or whatever you want to call

the ferry ride is quite fun, there's tax free shopping on board (well used by the
inhabitants of both countries, considering a 12-25% sales tax), cafes,
restraunts, casino, nightclub, etc etc. it's a great way to meet fun people, as
most of the young folks on there are trying to make the best of the 5pm-10am boat
ride. i met a group of crazy australians on the boat (well, actually, most of the
aussies i've met have been crazy), along with several finns, in general good
company for the ride. 

definitely a beautiful city, helsinki has plenty of czarist, st. peterburg-esque
russian style, along with modern finnish architechture. it's a small city, just
over five hundred thousand inhabitants spread over the area that includes a
handful of islands, most of the larger linked by bridges. i met up with a finnish
friend of mine, jyki (that's j-y-k-i kids, say it with me with the soft finnish
j, "yoo-KEE") and his girlfriend for a little ride in a speedboat around the
helsinki harbor. granted, it was cold, wet and grey, and probably did little to
help with fending off the sniffles i have, but it was actually quite fun to tool
around some of the islands and see the docks for shipping and cruise liner
building. after that we 
met up with jyki's sister and went shopping for a traditional (but not typical)
finnish dinner, which consisted of roast reindeer (insert
xmas-glowing-nose-flying-antler jokes >here<), mashed potatoes, lingonberry sauce
(a lot like cranberries, if not identical) and veggies. quite tasty indeed. 



i love finnish. the language. for little other reason than because, well, it's so
damn unique and so damn hard. let's have a little linquistics lesson, shall we?

get a map of europe and asia, and in nice, big fat crayola strokes color in india
and pakistan, then color in everything between there and europe, including the
middle east. now color in europe (i could say skip over basque country, but
color in sweden, norway, iceland, denmark... yes, yes good. don't color in
finland. now, all that coloring, at one point or another, was the same language,
proto-indo-european. yes, much to the disappointment of the french, everything
there came from the same root language way back in the day. except finnish, which
to an extent continues to boggle historical linguists. it's it's own thing, the
finno-ugric language group. there's finnish, estonian (basically a finnish
derivative) and hungarian, as the major languages in the group. related to
nothing else, their own thing, little islands in the middle of everything else.
interestingly, and it's either a fluke, a joke on the part of some researcher, or
just totally bizzare (i'm gunning for "c"), but They say that they're related to
korean and japanese, and even, on the extremes, chinese and navajo. groovy.

finnish also has cool names. such as the aforementioned jyki. i also met an
unski, pretty much as it's spelled, say it with me now, "OON-skee". another one i
like, although it sounds more slavic, was katja, "katya". the language itself is
a mouthfull to pronounce, especially if you're used to germanic and romantic
languages. there aren't a lot of dipthongs (no, not what you do for laundry) but
instead double vowels. once you sound something out, though, it's fairly easy. on
paper, though, it's daunting.

the money is dipping low, and i'll be looking for a little work here in helsinki,
be it banking on a keyboard or scrubbing dishes, as long as it fulfills
capitalist means for capitalist ends i'll be happy. i might have a place to stay
here for a few weeks, which would be nice if i get some short-term work. anthing
i get, though, would be under the table, though, because 
visas can be a pain and definitely aren't worth it if you're only working for a
month or so. but for the time being i'll be taking in helsinki and looking hither
and thither for work. eventually i'd like to go up north a bit in finland, and