How People Live Near the Arctic Circle (-52°C / -62°F)

How People Live Near the Arctic Circle (-52°C / -62°F)

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So what's it like to actually live near the Arctic Circle? It is so beautiful out here, so peaceful. In this video, I get invited to spend the day with a local family who's been calling this place home for generations. (person laughs) - This is the TV. - I've been driving further and further north towards the northern most point in continental Europe. (dog barks) This is the first reindeer I've seen on this trip.

Along the way, I've faced some practical struggles camping out here in my truck in winter. So I'm excited to see how the people from here manage this Arctic lifestyle. Okay, we're gonna go feed the reindeer. But before I go see them, I got a tip from a local that I should check out a road that only exists for a couple of months every year.

I am very lucky in that I was invited to spend the day with a local family tomorrow. So I have a bit of time to kill before then, and I decided to go and check out probably one of the most special things that you can do in northern Sweden, which is an ice road on the sea, on the frozen sea. Over the last few weeks, I've been making my way all the way to the northernmost place in continental Europe, truck camping all along the way. Today, I'm headed to an island near the town of Lulea via a special road that's only open a couple of months every year. I've never, ever driven on a ice road before, so this is kind of exciting. But one thing that's worrying me a little bit is that it's warm.

I think it's like plus one degree Celsius, which means that a lot of the snow and ice have melted on the roads. I don't know what exactly that means for the ice road on the sea, but I'm just gonna go take a look, see what it's like. (upbeat guitar music) Agh, but first, of course, I had to take a fall. Phew! Wow, I was just gonna take out my trash, stepped out of the car, and slipped, and hit back of my head on this.

Oh, my God, this is one of those really stupid ways to die. (chuckles) I'm like not even in the wild. I'm in the city. (chuckles) (upbeat music) Okay, let's hit the ice road. Okay, let's take a look here. So basically, speed limit is 30 kilometers an hour.

That's about 20 miles per hour. The weight limit is seven tons. I don't know what that is in pounds. (chuckles) And you have to keep a distance of 50 meters between cars. So the sheet of ice that covers the sea right now, in this bay, can sustain seven tons of weight in any one given place. That's mad.

It makes you feel a little bit ah, a little bit better about driving on this thing. (uplifting music) (singer vocalizing) This must be one of the coolest roads I have ever driven in my life. I mean, it's such an amazing feeling, because on the one hand you're like, "Yes, this is awesome!" And on the other, there's this little fear in the back of your mind, little voice telling you, "Well, what if you make a hole in the ice and you drown?" (chuckles) That wouldn't be good. All right, I think we're here. This is the island, and I hope to find a spot to camp somewhere here for tonight.

(gentle music) Okay, this looks like a pretty good spot. (dog whines) Okay. Can you stay? Yes. (dog sputters) (Eva laughs) I mean, I think this spot should be fine. I'm kind of at the back of a dead end. And it seems like the neighbors haven't been home in a while.

(upbeat music) There was a comment under one of my recent videos. The person who wrote it was from Sweden, and he pointed out how funny it is to see a foreigner coming to Sweden in winter and finding everything so new, so different, so exotic. Where for someone from here, a lot of the stuff that I'm experiencing for the first time is kind of ordinary, you know, even everyday, even the ice road that I used to get to this island. And I kind of love that. I just love that contrast between what is ordinary and extraordinary. And it got me thinking, "What is ordinary life like for the people who live here?" Around the same time, I got invited to spend a day with a local family.

So I'm excited to see how they live. I need to work on a few things tonight. And one of them is I need to prepare a few posts for the National Geographic. Ah! I'm so excited. So last month I hosted an episode for the National Geographic's YouTube channel in Iceland.

I couldn't tell anyone about it until now. I know that the episode is actually live. So I'm just working on a few little things to kind of, to post it and to brag about it, because, of course, I wanna brag about it.

It's NatGeo. So I'm gonna leave a link to the episode in the description box. So I hope you guys get to see it, get to watch it. It would mean the world to me. (gentle guitar music) The NatGeo episode I hosted premieres on Thursday the 14th of March. So I'm gonna leave a link to their channel in my description so you can check it out once it goes live.

Good night, bubba. (gentle guitar music continues) I've got a book here that I'm reading about the history of the Sami people who are the Indigenous people of this region. Super interesting.

This is, like, one of my favorite feelings, just, it's so good. (gentle guitar music continues) (bowl scraping) (gentle guitar music continues) (wind howling) (inspiring music) (dog barks) (inspiring music continues) (inspiring music continues) So I had this nightmare last night where I dreamt that all the ice around the island just melted overnight, and that left me stranded on the island, and I couldn't get off. I couldn't get off. I had to stay there. (chuckles) Well, let's see if anything's changed overnight, but hopefully no drastic changes in temperature.

(mysterious music) Yes, it says, "Oppen," which I'm assuming means open. (chuckles) (dog barks) (mysterious music continues) (dog barks) Oh, we made it. (mysterious music continues) Okay, we made it. (chuckles) And the ice didn't break, yes.

I have a two-hour drive ahead of me today to get to the Huuva Hideaway, the home of the Huuva family who invited me to spend a day with them. (mysterious music continues) Look at that! (dog barking) The first reindeer I've seen on this trip. Are you not a fan? (dog barking) So beautiful. I know these reindeer look like they're wild, but they actually belong to locals. Indigenous Sami communities, who have lived on these northern lands for thousands of years, have traditionally been reindeer herders, although that is changing now, along with everything else. The family I'm visiting today are part Sami, so I hope to learn a little bit more about their culture.

Okay, I think this looks like it. All right, I'm gonna go and say hi to everyone. I'm a little bit nervous. I haven't hung out with anyone in like a very long time. (laughs)

I feel like I've lost all my social skills. All right, let's go. (sighs) It is so beautiful out here. So peaceful. Vilk, unfortunately, has to stay in the car for now because the dog that lives in that house is in heat, and we do not wanna risk making little puppy babies. So he's like, he's got a bone and he's gonna stay in the Odyssey for a couple of hours.

Wow! Look at this. (gentle guitar music) Meet Pia and Henry, they run the Huuva Hideaway, a really tiny and remote cabin near Overkalix in north Sweden. Henry is a proud Sami, and his family have been living here for generations. Pia moved here from the south over 20 years ago. I didn't have to spend a long time with them to see just how connected they really are to this special corner of the world.

(gentle guitar music) So you're saying eight seasons? - Yeah. - [Eva] I mean, I would say that there's four seasons. - Yeah, but we, of course, in the north we have everything double as good, so we have eight seasons.

But it's not only a joke, it's really, nature changes. So if you have like, summer, summer autumn, autumn, autumn winter, winter, spring winter, spring, spring summer, summer. - That's it. - Yeah.

- Okay. We're gonna go feed the reindeer. So it's my turn to try out a kicksled. Hoo-hoo-hoo! Show me the technique, Pia.

- You stand on the (indistinct), and then you just kick. - Okay. This is kind of fun actually. It makes walking on the ice a lot easier. (chuckles) (chuckles) Although if you look close at Pia's technique, she is very smooth. Her body is nice and straight. I'm just kind of kicking off. (chuckles)

Okay, here we go. All right. I followed Pia to her beautiful cottage and the corral nearby, where just a few of the family's reindeer are currently staying and getting used to human presence. (serene ambient music) I've heard somewhere that it's impolite to ask how many reindeer someone has. - Yes, it's like asking, "How much money do you have in your account?" - Really? - Yeah. The reindeers take care of themselves. They're not domesticated.

They live in nature. - Yeah. - But there are also a lot of predators. So what do you do as a reindeer herder is more or less look out for the predators.

So the reindeers can live a- - Right. - A happy life. For the Sami people who have been nomadic people, everything has been, like, centered around the reindeer. So that's also the eight seasons are not only for the Sami people, it's more or less the reindeers because nature changes. So now they're eating. And then in May or April, May, they will have their calves.

And then the reindeer herders collect them from the forest in bigger herds and take them into a big corral. And then you mark the calves, and then you let them free again. So they roam freely in nature all summer. And then in September, October, before the male goes into heat, it's time to take out the animals that will not survive winter, and, of course, for meat. And when you slaughter, you use everything. (ambient music) - Okay, what do we have here? Wow. Oh, I love it.

When I arrived here, Pia told me that this village has 23 inhabitants and 22 saunas. For me, a sauna is almost like a luxury item. Something you'd only access at a fancy spa, maybe. But out here, it's just part of ordinary life.

Women used to prepare to give birth in the sauna? Is that right? - Yes, of course. I mean, warm place. And when you heat it up like this, it gets maybe not antiseptic, but very clean. So giving birth in a clean, warm environment that feels safe, I mean, why shouldn't you do it here? - [Eva] You do this every day or like, you know, often? - No, there's a tradition to take the sauna, like, two, three times a week. - Okay.

- And most often when you're a family, you do the sauna together. - So the sauna is getting heated up. It should be ready in about two or three hours, Pia said. It takes a little while, but this is going to be, I just know it.

This is gonna feel so amazing, especially on a really cold day like this. It's pretty cold, it's pretty sunny. But going into that sauna in the afternoon will just, I think, just something you do it, and then you just go straight for a nap. I think that's kind of how it's gonna go. (gentle piano music) In the meantime, Henry put the fire on and started preparing lunch.

These are gahkku, a traditional Sami flatbread, baked over a fire. (gentle piano music continues) - [Henry] I was baking yesterday, so I had to make a new. You have to wait. - Mm. That was good.

Henry, can I ask you about what you're wearing? - I have a Sami kolt, and it's from wool. It's warm. - [Eva] Do you wear this every day? - During the wintertime, yes. Yeah. - What's the name of the Sami, traditional Sami outfit? - Kolt. - Kolt. - Kolt. - Uh-huh.

In the Sami language, it's called a gakti. Henry told me that he used to speak Sami as a child, but one of the darker chapters of Swedish history is that the Sami language was once outlawed in schools, and local Sami children were not allowed to speak their own language. Did that ever change in schools in Sweden? - Now it's allowed. It's too late for me now to learn. - Mm-hmm. Well- - But my grandchildren speak so it's like- - Oh, yeah? - So they speak to me also sometimes, and I, now I don't understand.

(Eva laughs) They tried to teach me. - I love that. (lively guitar music) Ooh, I think our gahkku are coming along pretty nicely. (lively guitar music continues) Okay, Vilk finally got to come out of the truck and he's tied up. He's tied up to that little hut just in case he runs after the other dog that's in heat.

Hopefully doesn't take the entire hut with him, but for now he's just pretty happy chewing on his bone. (lively guitar music continues) Wow. So what is that? - Suovas. It's smoked reindeer meat.

- Mm-hmm. (lively guitar music continues) Ah. So this is lingonberry sauce? You guys know? - Yes. Yes, it is. - [Eva] How's the reindeer? Excellent. - Yeah? - It's really good. - Fresh reindeer is always. - So I'm having one with mushrooms and lingonberry sauce, and salad, and cheese.

Looks so good. (lively guitar music continues) The gahkku is like, really soft. Mm. And super, super fluffy, but very thin. It's different from any other kind of flatbread I've ever had, but maybe I can compare it to like a soft naan. That's kind of how it feels to me, but it's better. (chuckles)

'Cause it's fresh. (serene music) Here. - They never (indistinct). (people laughing)

(serene music continues) - I have so many thoughts about today, just how beautiful a life Pia and Henry have built for themselves and their family. They love all the seasons out here, and it's clear how connected they both are to the nature they live alongside. They really inspired me to learn more about the history of the Sami people.

So I hope to make another video about this in the future. But in the meantime... Okay, I think the sauna is ready. So I'm gonna go join Pia in the warmth. Ah, this is gonna be perfect.

Sorry, guys. You can't come in. But I'll report back afterwards. (chuckles) Pia and I spent at least an hour in there, and it felt amazing. Straight after the sauna, I headed over to their house for dinner.

(serene music continues) Hello. Yes, hello. Hello. Yes, yes, I have a doggy too.

And he's in the truck right now. Mm-hmm, he's in the truck. Wow. (serene music continues) Maja, what's the coldest temperature you've ever experienced out here? - 44. - Minus 44 degrees Celsius.

- 44, yeah. And it was in January this year. - Really? - Yeah. - [Eva] So just a month, a month and a half ago? - Yeah. - Oh, wow. Henry, is that your experience too? Minus 44 or can you beat that? - 52. - Minus 52?

- Yeah, it was in 1999. - Wow. - That was cold. - [Eva] How would you compare it to minus 25? (chuckles) - Minus 25 is summer. (Eva laughs) - [Eva] As the evening wore on, Pia and Henry and Maja shared some more stories from their life and their family history.

- It's my great-grandfather. So my dad, my dad's dad's dad. - [Eva] Oh, wow. Did you know him, your grandfather? - Yes.

- This whole day felt truly magical, and I was so happy to get a chance to see how people can live out here. Granted, Pia and Henry do have a very special lifestyle and a unique way of looking at the world, but those are the people I am always drawn to the most. Well, it seems like ordinary life near the Arctic Circle can be pretty cozy and dreamy after all. (soft music)

2024-03-14 05:00

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