• US: East/South
• New Zealand
• US: West/North
• Folly Cove
Gothenburg — Last Stop: Swingin' Inga's
Note: The following travelogue is written by Dr. Ingrid Undeland, our hostess in Sweden. We thought that it might be helpful to provide an independent perspective of our travels...and a cautionary tale for those who might consider opening their door to the Rousmanieres...
There are people who bring out the feeling that you should behave, be “a proper, respectable & professional lady.” Like your boss, your students and the man in the bank from which you want to take that major loan to buy your dream house. Then there are people that bring out the aggressive tiger in you, like your family, particularly itchy older brothers –brrrr..! Then there are the nieces and nephews that convert you into a child again and make you re-discover Barbie dolls and give you an excuse to fully enjoy play-dough for hours. Until the summer of 2001, nobody has ever in my adult life brought out that hidden giggling teenager in me. But I tell you, a magic evening on Cape Ann, I found somebody who did. Three crazy Americans named Will, Dana and Petá! And I think that teenager has been awake ever since. It has been so much fun!!
My fellow teens are unfortunately living very far away from me these days. My career as a fish homogenizer forced me to re-immigrate back from the states to Inga-land last year. Way too soon. Leaving Cape Ann, I very quickly fell into being a grey, dull, quiet and reserved 30+ scientist wanna-bee again. Glasses on my nose, a dirty lab coat over my shoulders, blue clogs, late nights with my fish in the lab, no fun.
…but, then one day, I think it was late April when the leaves had just turned green and we had moved out from our Igloos up here in the north. Then they came flying! Filled with adventures, stories, Italian gelato and Irish Guiness, Dana & Will brought back good old East Gloucestá memories to me by making Inga-land “The last stop.” For 7 days, and 7 nights the world turned up-side-down into a looong swinging party. It took roughly 5 seconds before the three of us were back where we ended last year. I had worried a bit that maybe the travelling had made Will & Dana grow out of their innocent teens. You never know what exposure to Buddhism culture, New Zealand adventures and Italian Antonio´s shouting “Bella Bella” do to you? You may actually grow up!
However, those worries were quickly taken away. At 2 pm, my new guests had already started to use my precious 3L “bag-in-box-wine” like tap water (I thought it would last for the whole week..). At 3 pm, Dana had spread the whole contents of my “masquerade clothing chest” over my recently cleaned floor happily humming “Oh Inga, beautiful”, “so fun”, “adorable.” At the same time, her lovely husband Will was digging into my closet with full energy trying to figure out which of my dresses (!) was most flattering to his figure. Finding most of them too tight, he was begging me for directions to the closest second hand store to continue indulging this sudden, and unexplained, enthusiasm for cross-dressing. We spent 1h in the store “Broadway” down-town Göteborg after which he was satisfied. When my first shock had faded over this peculiar behaviour, I thought to myself; “well-well, these people have lived in the same dirty sweaters and shorts now for 9 months, maybe they need a little colourful “tune-up”. The truth was however that the “tune-up” turned out to be a plan, and before I knew it I was head-down in that chest myself. It was all for the welcoming of our dear friend Petá, who surprisingly was to fly in from Massachusetts to make the Sweden-reunion complete. After about 5h of trying EVERY single piece of clothing in that chest, we finally agreed on the look “sophistication”; long black dresses, high heels, feather boas and champagne. Peter has long talked of coming to Sweden to meet "beautiful Swedish babes". He was not disappointed! If you have not seen Will dressed as Willma (especially in the middle of Göteborg International Airport), you should!! And Dana, she looked like a supermodel. Adorable!
A unique thing with these my Cape Ann friends, is that in between all the playing, there is also of room for seriousness and deep conversations. We made such a twist that first day and spent the evening watching “Bowling for Columbine” in the movies. I felt terribly embarrassed when my fellow Swedes were laughing at the American gun-craziness. I looked discretely at my guests there in the darkness, afraid that they would be upset and leave my country in a rush... But oh, what a relief, they were laughing just as loud as the rest of the crowd. In that moment I loved them even more. When the night and the analyzing of the movie was over, my tap water was over too….
Petá arrived on “Valborgsmässoafton” to Sweden in a steam of champagne bubbles and with all the Göteborg people celebrating the arriving spring (and of course the arriving Petá) on the streets. I think he had a hard time deciding who was his favourite babe in that moment. My guess was Willma..at least they only had eyes for each other that night during the “cortege parade” in Göteborg, on the dinner party in my kitchen and during dancing in my living room.
So, from the next morning and 5 more lovely ones, I woke up with three sleeping Americans and three sleeping Americans' clothings and bags everywhere in my 50 m2 flat... In my bed..on my floor..on my desk…in my bathroom...but I tell you, in some crazy way, we just smoothly moved like amoebas around this little chaos, and after a while it just felt like nice new decorations. The best part of the morning show was to watch them one by one entering the kitchen with their own personal “good morning hair styles”…(F.Y.I. Petá used Will´s good morning hairstyle as a dress-up thing for Halloween 2001, that´s how good it is..). In the kitchen, breakfasts turned into brunches and brunches turned into lunches under the examination of all the STRANGE things Inga had in her fridge, specially bought for these special guests: hjortronfil, lax, brunost (brown sheeese), knäckebröd, sill, hamburgerkött, härrgårdsost…I think my friends thought Scandinavians were very hungry people….
One morning was slightly different from the others. A small war suddenly developed around this rich kitchen table when Bush, Iraq, Swedish politics, oil and environmental issues suddenly broke into our cozy breakfast bubble. For the second time in this week, I was a little afraid my dear guests would maybe pack and go…but no, so wrong again. Also this little light morning conversation turned into laughing. We declared peace love and understanding, packed our bags, bought some more of that yummy tap-water and squeezed into my Opel Astra for a wonderful 2 day excursion to the coastline. Something strange happened when we entered the rocky islands that day. Confused looks appeared in the back seat and equally confused questions reached my ears. “Is this Folly Cove?” “Why are we driving on Cape Ann?” ”Is this home?” “Why are we already at home?” “Is Sweden actually located on Cape Ann? Or is Cape Ann just a synonym for Sweden?” “Is the Atlantic ocean just a myth?”, “Where is the Rhumbline?” The answers to questions will forever remain a mystery…but we had two lovely days in a hostel on Käringön, eating fish on Käringön´s own “The Rudder” (of course causing more confusion…) and exploring strange houses by the water with signs named “Dam bad”.
Dana had already day 1 seen that new big wooden roller coaster raising itself high up in the skyline of Göteborg. Small hints came soon after. “Maybe we should visit this nice Tivoli..hm?”. Since I have always had a certain fear for the skinny constructions called amusements parks, and use to be the “bag holder” during visits to them, I tried changing the subject VERY quickly. However, all of you who know Dana know she is a woman who know what she wants. Thus, during the week, those hints became more and more frequent, more and more firm. In the end it was more like “WHEN are we going to try the ROALLER COASTER???” I had to capitulate! Two glasses of beer later, I was in the line to “Balder”, the new pride of Scandinavia´s biggest amusement park Liseberg. There was no turning back, I was trapped! The proof is now in my book shelf; a photo showing a screaming Inga beside three smiling Americans. Hair straight up. I did it!! And I loved it! After visiting some other Undeland family members, we celebrated the roller coaster victory in my sofa with ice cream, candies and “American pie” on video. Cozy, but sad. Last night together. Because suddenly, a lovely week was over. The three Americans left me with a big hole inside, an empty apartment, numerous emptied bag-in-boxes & beer bottles, but filled with plenty of energy for the coming summer. One word describes the American Invasion: “laughing!!”
I am already longing for Sweden 2004!!