Ninjas, Laser Tag and Chocolate Pancakes: A Week With My Favourite Swedish Girl!

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I put myself through the torture of yet another night bus from Oslo to Helsingborg, Sweden, but for good cause: I was on my way to visit my dearest Kajsa, the little Swedish one that I met within my first two weeks of travel in Guatemala on a boat (read about our first grand adventure together HERE!). We spent the next two and a half months discovering Central America together. From a 40 hour bus journey through Guatemala down to Costa Rica, to becoming certified scuba divers in Honduras; from zip lining in the Costa Rican canopy to learning acro yoga together on the shores of Lake Atitlan; from catching waves surfing in Nicaragua to dancing the nights away at music festivals on the western shores of Costa Rica; from falling off trees in the Costa Rican cloud forest to playing in the waves in Uvita; from watching the sunrise over Laguna de Apoyo to climbing volcanoes in Leon; from practicing henna on each other to swinging naked into the local swimming hole together: this girl and I found kindred spirits within each other and were inseparable.

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I couldn’t believe my luck – finding such a beautiful soul after not even being on the road for two weeks! Kajsa and I fit perfectly together; we both have this excitability, this desire to try to new things, to seek out adventure, to fill our days with laughter and of course, to always have fun. Her journey was coming to a close at the end of April and we parted ways with heavy hearts. Leaving her that day in Utila, Honduras, I felt like I was leaving a best friend that I’d known all my life. But there was a silver lining. I would see her again. While her journey was just ending, mine was just beginning, and my travels would be bringing me to Norway in a few months time. With Sweden being just a hop and a skip away, I promised that I would come and visit her after Norway. With this promise, parting was made at least somewhat bearable.

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Somehow the next five months months flew by.  After we parted ways I had found myself back in Guatemala discovering the Tikal ruins and swimming in Semuc Champey. Suddenly I was leaving Central America, heading for South America to meet my friend Anthony in Colombia to begin our adventure. I hiked national parks in Colombia (and got deathly ill!), learned to surf in Ecuador (and kicked my illness!), hiked the Salkantay Trek in Peru to reach Machu Picchu, got lost in the spectacular scenery of the Bolivian salt flats, admired the impressive Iguazu falls in Argentina, celebrated my birthday in Buenos Aires, practiced yoga on the beach in Montanita, walked until my feet thought they would crumble to dust in London, went searching for faeries in Scotland, road tripped the ring road in Iceland, fell in love with Paris, received a heavy history lesson from Berlin and met my pen-pal of 16 years in Norway while searching for Trolls in the fjords… and just like that, it was time at last to be reunited with Kajsa in her home country, Sweden. Excited doesn’t come close to the feeling that was bubbling inside of me as I neared Helsingborg.

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I arrived at the ungodly hour at 5am. Kajsa said she would be up to meet me at the bus stop near her apartment. I couldn’t figure the buses out (as my phone had been stolen the evening before in the Oslo bus station) so I just took a terribly expensive cab and showed up at her door. She was up, getting ready to meet me, so the knock at the door took her by surprise. “Oh my god!!!” she blurted as the door opened and she saw my familiar face, and my back ladened down with my signature heavy load. We both squealed with delight and wrapped each other in an huge hug. I threw my bags down and we hugged some more, jumping up and down. It seemed surreal after all of our time travelling together through the jungles and mountains of Central America, that I was here on her door step all these months later.

We crawled into bed, and talked and talked, elated to be back in each others presence. I was exhausted and hadn’t slept, and she was just coming down with a cold so was low on sleep as well, but we couldn’t suppress our excitement enough to shut up and sleep. Finally after an hour of chatter we forced ourselves to be quiet and drift off to sleep for a few hours. Kajsa had just started University after taking several years off after high school to work and travel. She had an adorable bachelor(ette) apartment in an area dedicated mostly to students, but off campus.  While she went to classes, I would take time to work on my blog, explore the area, and get some yoga practice in. While I would have enjoyed seeing some of Sweden, my time here was only to visit Kajsa, and I was actually looking forward to sitting tight in one place for a week, and not doing much of the whole traveling thing, as I had been moving so quickly through Europe, I was starting to feel burned out and knew I needed some time to regroup and settle down for a bit.

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Unfortunately, a nasty cold was racking the campus body and Kajsa was just coming down with it. When we woke up in the morning we headed to the grocery store, and in true Kajsa/Brittany fashion we decided the best way would of course just be to double on her bicycle! I hopped on the seat and away we went, laughing and screaming the whole way! It was so good to be back with this free spirited girl! We picked up some groceries for dinner and breakfast and some cold fighting supplies: honey, garlic, orange juice, ginger and tea! I promised I would take care of her and help her fight this off while upping my own immune system at the same time.

The first thing we did that afternoon, no surprise, was hit the grass and tumble over each other practicing acro yoga. As I soared up effortlessly into bird pose, we both beamed from cheek to cheek at the old familiar feeling. We had spent so much of our spare time travelling practicing acroyoga and it was a great feeling to know we could pick up where we left off. We spent the next hour falling and laughing hysterically, ending up in a mess of entangled limbs after each failed attempt at a new difficult pose. As we fell for the tenth time, her head in my groin, her arm tangled with my leg at strange angels, we exploded in giggles and couldn’t get ourselves untangled until the laughter abated. Oh, how I missed this girl!

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We didn’t plan anything too adventurous for my time in Sweden because with Kajsa in school (and sick!) and me wanting to conserve money, I was content to just stay in Helsingborg and hang out. It was so refreshing, so nice to just hang out with a good friend the way I would back home. All of the adventure has been so grand, but sometimes you just want to cuddle up with a good friend, a movie, some popcorn and relax and do a whole lot of nothing for a few days! But of course with Kajsa, it’s never just nothing! We picked up some marzipan and spent hours making hilarious and spooky figurines; the super blood moon was the next evening, and we had to prepare! We headed out with four friends from uni, our marzipan figurines in tow, along with some crepes, sandwiches, hot chocolate, her bongo drum fro Costa Rica and a telescope – and dove into the dark forest near the ocean.

I was amazed that I could look at Denmark just across the ocean channel, its orange lights flickering in the night sky. The super moon dazzled above us, a pregnant orb, white and luminous casting shadows through the trees. We set up camp just in front of the ocean and the boys got the telescope adjusted and aligned. I was so excited to be staying up and taking in the super blood moon, as I had never seen one before. It wouldn’t peak until around 4am, so we didn’t even head out until around nearly 2am, all having downed a couple cups of coffee back at Oliver’s apartment. We huddled under blankets, taking turns examining the craters of the plump moon through the telescope lens, snacking on ghostly marzipan figurines. As the moon reddened, we all nestled together, watching in comfortable silence at this incredible phenomenon taking place before our eyes. As the eclipse began I got a small astrophysics lesson from Oliver who spent two years studying astrophysics. He tried to use layman’s terms, but some things still flew way over my head, though I came away from the whole experience understanding lunar eclipses and the eternal enigma that is space just a little bit more.

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Getting home at 5am, I slept as late as I could while Kajsa was a trooper and got up for school around 9am. The poor girl came home sick as a dog and I resolved that we would take it extra easy and ensure we got lots of sleep and healthy food to help her get better. I cooked up another big batch of extra garlicky/spicy vegetable lentil soup and we gorged ourselves on it for days. We crushed up garlic and chugged it back with orange juice. She overcame her aversion to honey (caused by eating it hungover once) at my insistence and we drank cup after cup of green tea with ginger, honey, cinnamon and lemon. She took medicine and coughed up her lungs for days on end, the poor dear! She took two days off school and we slept late, ate soup, went bouldering, checked out Tropikariet (a small sort of zoo where lemurs run around freely!) and talked for hours on end making up the last five months.  She studied her books while I practiced my yoga and we snuggled up at night with movies, popcorn, candy and hot tea. We ventured out one evening (and by ventured I mean went upstairs to her neighbor Jens’s) to watch a scary movie with a couple of other friends all recovering from the same illness. We watched the terrifying paranormal activity 2, all sipping our cinnamon-lemon-honey-ginger-tea concoctions and trying not to spill it on ourselves as we jumped out of our skin!

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In the morning before heading back to classes, I made us chocolate rice crispy pancakes for breakfast and packed her up some for lunch. She scrambled around to find her phone and as I flipped a pancake I called out, “it’s under a piece of paper on the desk.”

“Oh my gosh, how did you know?! I can never find anything!” She stuffed it into her pocket as she thanked me and went to leave, remembering she needed her keys and went in search of them. I opened the second drawer in the kitchen and pulled them out as I flipped my pancake again and handed them to her. As she was heading out the door with her pancakes, I asked her if she had her books, and she threw her back pack over her shoulders, nodding and mumbling ‘yes’, with her mouth full of pancake.

“Have a good day honey! I’ll have a fresh batch of soup ready when you come home!”

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“You’re the best!” she said and hopped on her bike to head to school. I laughed at our house playing antics and ate my pancakes. I was starting to feel the beginnings of the cold myself; no matter the precautions I took, I knew it would be inevitable living in such close quarters- eating, sleeping and adventuring together. That night we were supposed to bartend at the campus bar, but thought maybe it wouldn’t be a good idea to cough in everyone’s drinks so we opted out. Instead we rounded up Jens and his friend and each doubled up on the bikes, this time me peddling to save poor Kajsa’s lungs, and headed down to Lazer Tag! I was so excited – I had never played before! My older brother always got to go play with his friends, but I was never allowed to join, so this was my debut! Kajsa had gone once before and said her score was about -800; in other words she was terrible! But she had a blast anyway, not caring about the score at all. Her and I teamed up and decided we needed to be ninjas, so we tied black stockings around our heads and smeared black make up beneath our eyes, looking fierce.

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Team ninja  worked out some strategies and codes and took to the dark, smokey confusing halls of the laser tag dome.  My heart was pounding from the anticipation and excitement, and soon after from the endless running through the maze like tunnels. At first we stayed together, trying to talk in signals, splitting up to try and meet up around an obstacle, only to get lost and then have Kajsa come around the corner and shoot me. I screamed, “Noooo, it’s me!”, undoubtedly giving our position away to our opponents who came hot on our heels and took us down. We ran around wildly, and I felt my lungs burning, partly from the smoke and partly from the constant running with lungs that were on the verge of getting sick; I hadn’t had much of a workout in a while and it was killing my lungs! After the first round, team ninja took some serious hits and we lost by an embarrassing margin. I was -80 in points and Kajsa was barely above the 200 mark, while our opponents were close to 2000 points!

After a lengthy break to catch our breath and dry the sweat pouring off of us, we headed back in for round two. I was determined to kick ass this time, feeling like I understood the dynamics and strategy a little better. Kajsa and I planned out five hand signals – from cover me, to lure them out – and I  immediately forgot all of them. But we went in with a newly restored confidence. We planned to split up more this time and I went after my opponents like a mad woman, making far more hits. Kajsa still shot me several times by accident, but I held in my screams, and we tried a few hand signals out. We put our backs together to cover our targets, and each other, and tried to hold the laughter in as we sought out the enemy. She hid in a box, while I lured them out with fake screams, and we ran around like maniacs, tumbling through the hazy maze of black passages. We lost again, but improved impressively, my score nearing the 2000 mark! While we may have lost both times, guess who had more fun? Probably the ninjas who were barrel rolling on the floor, talking in code, using meaningless hand signals, and laughing hysterically. It’s always an adventure with Kajsa! Oh how I missed this girl!

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When the weekend rolled around we spent Friday night wearing funny hats to a hat party in the common room, and wore the night away playing the mafia and farmer game, which Kajsa and I took to another level with our intensity.  Saturday night was my last night and we had big plans! We were going to a pre party on campus and then off to the Octoberfest party… which meant costumes! We spent the day trying on all sorts of things from her closet until we found the perfect costume: Günther and Brunhilda! We went over to her friend Sebe’s place for a yummy spaghetti dinner with a bunch of others, and then made our way over to the campus party where the usual campus shenanigans ensued. Face painting, beer pong, loud music, bad singing, beer bonging and lots of hugs ensued. Then Kajsa and I and another two guys dressed hilariously as german girls made our way to the student bar for the Octoberfest Party. Kajsa bought me my first non alcoholic beer since I quit drinking. Surprise, it tasted just like bad beer…! Can’t say I missed that! We danced and laughed and photobombed and decided to leave early and make a good old McDonalds stop before bed, as we were starving. We loaded up on filet o’ fishes, french fries and apple pies and walked the bike back to her place in the cold misty night.

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We snuggled up in bed, told stories, laughed and reluctantly fell asleep. “Good night my darling Günther” I giggled. “Sweet dreams my sweet Brunhilda!”.  I didn’t want morning to come because it meant I had to pack and leave my dear Kajsa once again. I had such an amazing, restorative week here with her. It felt so good to be in the presence of such a good friend after traveling and being uprooted for so long. In the morning she walked me to the bus stop, and we hugged each other tightly, promising that we would continue to visit each other every two years. She would come to Canada next and then I would return to Sweden so we could take turns with the heavy costs of getting overseas. I know it’s a promise that we will hold to. I need that girl in my life; she brings such a lightness, such a brightness to my soul. I clutched her tightly and bit back the tears, knowing it would be some time before I saw her next.

And so, until that day, my dearest Kajsa, thank you for taking me in for a week to share your home, your friends and your food with me. Thank you for sharing your unquenchable love for life and your infinite positivity. Thank you for filling my heart with love, my belly with laughter and my mind with so many new beautiful memories. I miss you terribly and love you to bits!

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