Total Miles: 1,589.2
Near Stöten on trail, Mora by road – September 13, 2016
The streets of Mora feel empty, glowing in electric light, just a handful of people walking home. I pass the old church and rows of stores closed for the day. I think of the three rides it took to make it here and how the last one almost didn’t come, how I had half an hour of light left as car after car passed.
Then I’d listened to rumba, not the ballroom kind that stole its name and forgot its Cuban roots, but the clave, drum, and singer kind, the kind that always makes me happy. I listened and it brought joy to my face and the next car stopped.
“What a hassle just to get to a town I’ll walk to in a week,” I think.
But I had to get there, just like I had to get to Tärnaby and Östersund, and I did.
I pass through the business district and turn into a residential neighborhood, peering at a street sign to make sure I have the right address. A car pulls up and I ask the driver if she knows Henrik and which house is his. She points and I reach the door just as it opens.
A tall, kind man greets me. He holds out a hand and I take it.
“Welcome, welcome!” he says.
We’d never met before, but that’s not strange when it comes to Couchsurfing, a website connecting travelers who need a place to stay and hosts with a bit of extra floor, a couch, or a spare bed.
When I’ve been home I’ve cooked dinner with a pair of Hungarians in my kitchen, a French woman came to Thanksgiving, and I’ve taken a few travelers out to kayak Florida’s rivers. I’ve stayed with people too, most on that long kayak trip from the Angle to Key West and back, my boat resting in their yard or garage as I slept under their roof. It takes a bit trust on both sides, but I’ve come away from it with friends I never would have met otherwise.
Still, Henrik had done me a huge favor. I needed an address, a Swedish address, that wasn’t a post office.
“They’re right there, waiting for you,” he says.
He points to a stack of three boxes in the entryway. New shoes, new chargers, and new batteries.
I look at them for a moment, not quite believing as relief flooded through me. I think of standing in Tärnaby’s post office for half an hour as the sweet woman who worked there tried to track my package down. I think of walking around Östersund from dropoff location to dropoff location and coming up with nothing. I think of all the times I couldn’t write when I wanted to for fear of draining my phone, of begging the sky to clear so I could use my solar panel, of limping into towns to search and beg for an outlet so I could keep navigating forward.
I stare at the packages, turn, and give Henrik a giant hug.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” I say.