Two weeks ago, our our wallet was stolen in Estonia. In thinking about the experience now, I can't help but shake my head about the events which preceded it. Just a day prior, I had griped about how our adventure had become too easy! The crushing irony of the following morning wasn't lost on me. Never again will I complain when things go well.
Though we had expected it would be something of a nightmare at the time, the resolution of our wallet theft was a mostly painless experience, thanks to our parents and the generosity of the Hannus family in Finland (who we barely know, yet).
Well more than a year ago, after receiving numerous contacts from people who wanted to contribute to our project monetarily, we added a paypal link to our home page. Matias Hannus was one of the very first people to use it! At the time, we exchanged a few emails with him, learning that he also rode a Long Haul Trucker, and had hopes of someday doing a long distance tour himself.
It felt a bit like a hail mary pass, sending him an email more than a year later. But, he was the nearest person we had any kind of connection with. We were floored, humbled, and touched when we received his response: an email detailing how he would be honored to assist us in any way possible. It was a huge relief, knowing that if we needed anything, we had only to ask.
Thankfully, we didn't need much. Just a safe place to send our important documents, and hopefully somewhere to take a day or two of rest. Matias and his wife Mia agreed wholeheartedly to our request, assuring us that our things would be in good hands, and that we were welcome to stay as long as we like!
Today, more than a year after our only contact, and only two weeks after our second, we got to meet them and their two adorable sons Arvid and Edvin. After a round of warm greetings from everyone, including the family cat, Tintin, we headed off for a much welcomed bike ride of Jakobstad (the town where they live). We really miss riding bikes!
During our jaunt, we visited Matias's parents' house. While there, his father proudly took out his latest project to show us. Check out this old bike!
It had a Husqvarna coaster brake:
…a Nokia tire (Yes, that Nokia; apparently, they used to make rubber boots too!):
…and a wooden wheel! During WWII, when there was a rubber shortage, Matias's grandfather invented this so he'd be able to ride his bike:
Incredible! I got to take it for a brief spin down the block. It was a pretty squeaky affair, but impressively functional given the age and complexity.
The rest of the evening passed enjoyably, us hanging out with our kind hosts. This guy (Arvid) was especially fun to play with.
Over a tasty home-cooked meal of taco pie (just as it sounds—a taco in a pie crust. YUM!), we talked about life in Finland, and learned about how Jakobstad is actually a Swedish area. Matias and Mia are native Swedish-speakers (not only do they speak nearly perfect English, they know plenty of Finnish as well! Oh to be tri-lingual. Someday.)
After cleaning up, we retired to our "guest room" for the night, a caravan loaned to us by Matias' parents. Normally it rests in their yard, but since there is currently a town festival in Jakobstad, and their garden is going to be on display, it was moved to Matias' house for a few days. Perfect timing!