Monday, March 12, 2007

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hei from scandinavia

i arrived in stockholm yesterday morning, and after purchasing my train ticket and stowing my stuff in a locker, spent the day bumming around the city. i slept in a bed on the overnight train from stockholm to oslo, and today is a lot like yesterday. my stuff is in a locker at the oslo train station and i'm bumming around the city. this afternoon i'll catch a bus across town to the hotel that i'll be in for the next week.

i'm here doing the same thing that i did last year at this time: following the scandinavian spring world cup xc skiing circuit and taking photos. i'll post photos on my photo blog as well as photos and stories on teamtoday.org. i only wrote one story about last year's experience, but hopefully i can put some more things together this year. i have more time this year, which i'd like to fill with skiing and tourism in addition to more ski racing content.

it's fun to be in the cities yesterday and today. and holy cow different from africa. there are all the obvious differences of climate, infrastructure, skin color, lack of pollution, that kind of thing. but the first thing i noticed (ok, the second thing - the first thing i noticed was that it was noon and the shadows were longer than the object casting them were tall. right now on the equator, the sun is straight up.) the second thing i noticed was that graffiti covered everything. no surface in stockhom is sacred, except maybe the life-size dala horse at city hall. and along with the graffiti, i noticed all the teenagers. counterculture had run amok. posses of goths, skate punks, hyper soccer kids, cell phone girls, you name it, the standard teenager dressed in the colors of rebellion. know that i'm not trying to discourage. i was every one of those groups in my youth. but the reason they all stood out to me right away here is that i don't think that there are any teenagers, per se, in kampala.

in uganda there is no childhood; you go straight from toddler to adult. we see four year-olds on the side of the road carrying jerry cans of water home from the bore hole. the kids there don't have the time or the income to rebel, they're busy just surviving.

seeing all the counterculture here in scandinavia made me wonder about the future of uganda in terms of its youth. maybe all that graffiti and rebellion and attempted individuality is healthy for a society, and helps keep the adults in check? if the kids are unhappy, maybe they'll grow up wanting to do something about it. i don't know if that's the case in uganda. maybe i haven't been there long enough to recognize it, but i sure don't think i've seen any counterculture in kampala. i don't know if that's what keeps a president in office for 20 years, but it sure can't hurt.

paige and i have always commented on how happy the children are in uganda. they have nothing and they are always happy. now after seeing scandinavia with its ideal quality of life and its rebellious teenagers, i wonder if that's a good thing.

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