When we hiked back up the cliff past the sneering totem poles that greeted us on the way in, we ran into some members of our group who had gotten lost and managed to get electrocuted somewhere. We gave them directions to the piece and then picked our bikes back up at our lunch picnic area. I hopped on and raced downhill. When I wasn’t brave enough to lift my hands off of the handlebars, I settled for loosening my fingers’ grip. My butt hurt to touch the seat again. At the next intersection, the group decided to try biking out to the Kullen lighthouse on the peninsula, a huge landmark along the Swedish coast and the most powerful lighthouse of its kind in Scandinavia. Since most of the trip was uphill, we eventually collapsed on a look-out shoulder of the road and gazed on the town below us. The sky grew dark and dramatic and we took pictures.
We got lost a couple times on the dusty country roads leading back to the Vandrarhem. When we got there, we took hot showers and put on fresh clothes and sat on the grass outside to wait for the leaders to grill our food. Then we ate, drank tea in the lounge and played hearts on impossible double-sided cards. I got into bed early, listening to music on shuffle through my headphones. A song from way back that meant a lot of things came on. Every boy I ever embraced either knew or didn’t know that it was playing for me when we embraced.
The next day a familiar breakfast spread was waiting for us. We hydrated and hopped on the bus to a stop on the Rönneå river where we picked up our canoes and headed out for a full day of paddling. The river started out looking like a simple irrigation ditch. We took over, racing, relaxing, shouting at our friends in other boats. Then the river became more river-like until we floated through a town and found ourselves paddling through people’s backyards. It was a Sunday, so people were outside walking with dogs or sweethearts, throwing Frisbees, grilling or watching to satisfy their minds.