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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

This blog has not been forgotten, just unfortunate circumstances. With some extremely hectic last 6 month working and now the last 7 weeks with a slipped disc which effectively have kept me away from the keyboard I have spent more time out walking with the camera.
But now it is time for a proof of life. Looking back I see my last post was about Christmas in the north, so what is better than a post about the complete opposite – Midsummer celebration in the south of Sweden.

poledancing

photo: Dan Freed



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This year we went north for Christmas. To the town of Sundsvall in the middle of Sweden. With a population of 51 000, just shy of 100 000 in the whole municipal area I would describe it as a small town, but for Sweden it is a mid-size city. Although being a university city the population fluctuate considerable between semesters and school breaks.

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We finally got our longed-for summer. Sweden showing off its best side.

I never go on summer trips, I usually take some time off in May and September to travel, working throughout the summer. July and August are the best months to spend in Sweden so leaving at this time is very confusing to me.
Of course this year has been rainy, cloudy, dark and more rain, but now the summer finally arrived with sun, heat and long, bright evenings that never wants to end.
Yes I do work all day, but, with risk of sounding like someone from the cast of Grease – oh those summer nights…


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Last Friday we celebrated Midsummer in Sweden. This is, after Christmas, our most celebrated holiday. And it is always raining, so also this year.
Thursday it was a beautiful sunny day with blue skies. Saturday was a little cloudy, but warm and nice without rain. Friday – it poured down…

Photo: Dan Freed

Photo: Dan Freed

maypoleWe had some discussion about this during the day and the constant rain is not that much of a mystery. If we, all over Sweden, place massive fertility symbols in the ground earth should respond and give us the rain needed for good growth.
This is an ancient pagan ritual and has been done for centuries. With the entrance of Christianity the church tried to steal this celebration and transformed our symbol to a cross. The people replied with hanging two giant rings on the arms and just like that we have our fertility symbol back.

We planned to go by bicycle to the place of celebration, just a few kilometers outside of Malmö. When it was time to go the rain had stopped and we started our journey, we had not gone more than a quarter of the way when it poured down and we decided to go back and take a bus.
Well back home we were soaking wet and if I had been alone I would have stayed home grouching the rest of the evening. Luckily miss Z is here and I wanted to show here a real Swedish Midsummer, the rain is part of it.
When we finally arrived at the allotment area the rain had stopped and just an hour later it was a dazzling sunshine and the evening turned out to be great.

Everybody was there, we had Swedes, Danish, Norwegian, Mexican, Japanese and a Zombie hunter. With a mix of Swedish traditional pickled herring, Mexican style chicken and snaps, both the obligatory Swedish and a Mexican liqueur, we sang in Swedish and Spanish waiting for the grass to dry. The rain was soon forgotten.

Photo: Dan Freed

Photo: Dan Freed

Smelling the Elderberry flowers. Growing in the wild in Sweden this flower and the berries is used to make Elderberry lemonade or spice the moonshine.

Photo: Dan Freed

Photo: Dan Freed

Celebrating an ancient tradition of course we have to play an ancient game – Kubb.
I am not totally clear with the rules, but we trow a wooden stick on a wooden log. There is a lot of wood involved, but forest is something we still have plenty of in Sweden.
The origin is a little unclear, the modern version was revived on the Swedish island of Gotland.

Strategy chat, goes something like, “hit the log”.

0092

After the exercise all harsh words was forgotten and forgiven. We gathered up for desert, more snaps and strawberries with ice cream and cream.

Photo: Dan Freed

Photo: Dan Freed

Later on the more foreign guests wanted to see something very traditional Swedish. A trip to the local open-air dance floor is probably one of the most Swedish sights you can find a summer night.
Even if it was getting a little late, there were still some people doing the “Små grodorna” (the little frogs), without competition the number one midsummer dance in Sweden.

little frogs

Photo: Dan Freed

After a long day with Swedish traditions miss Z is still here, I guess it is not that traumatizing I remembered it to be.

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Big Boys Gone Bananas!
Documentary filmmaker Fredrik Gertten followed a lawsuit Nicaraguan banana workers brought against Dole Food Company ending with the movie Bananas!
Then it turned bad, bad as it only can be in USA.
This is the movie about a multi-billion company’s hunt for a small Swedish filmmaker and the attempt to silence the freedom of speech

Following the controversy from the sideline, with sporadic updates weekends at my local coffee place, I have been waiting for this movie.
Even if I got to know the outcome and have heard some things throughout the years I had no idea what kind of pressure Fredrik Gertten and his staff and colleagues went through.

One of the, if not The largest fruit company in the world with billions to spend together with a battalion of lawyers and a successful PR-firm tried to scare the documentary film community to silence.

Without even have watched the movie they claimed the movie was built on a fraud and threatened with legal actions if it was ever screened.

When threats didn’t work and the film still was screened at the Sundance film festival in Los Angeles, although out of competition, Dole went on suing Fredriks company WG Film, Fredrik himself and everybody involved in making the movie.


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One of my most disturbing childhood memories are the oatmeal porridge, some brownish grayish tasteless muck with glue like consistency.
Today we had the opportunity to have it for breakfast, needless to say I passed, but I did get Miss Z to have a bowl. She wasn’t totally against it, but there were something missing.

I remember by friend Jonky, food-blogger, having an ongoing project, “Make disgusting food good”, gåshud (Swedish) and I came up with the idea of Mexicanize this childhood pain. As an added bonus I know Jonky love oatmeal porridge – even have it for dinner sometimes.

Challenge accepted! Off to the supermarket to buy some ingredients.

We start with a ordinary bowl of oatmeal porridge and milk;

oatmeal

Photo: Dan Freed

Now this really doesn’t look appetizing, so we ad some apple;

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We were out for a walk downtown a muggy Saturday in early January when we stumbled upon this guy putting up a show.

And someone told me men cannot multitask.

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Malmö Unga, Malmö Youth, is an association for youngsters between 13 and 25 in my hometown Malmö. It was founded on initiative of the young to bring the youth closer to politicians.
Today, October 3, the association organized a charity race for The Horn of Africa, Run for Humanity.
When I see young people do these kind of things I feel a ray of hope for mankind.

It was a threat of rain hanging in the air, but in one of this citys beautiful parks 70 brave souls gathered a Monday afternoon. With all the rain we have had this year the grass is still green and the organizers had chosen a scenic place for the race.

run

Photo: Dan Freed

Before the race there were a little show and a joint warm-up.
warm_up

Photo: Dan Freed

Everyone was invited to participate, also mans best friend.
dog

Photo: Dan Freed

younster

Photo: Dan Freed


Even the youngest people participated.

Being a charity we are all winners and there were all happy faces at the finish line.

finish_line

Photo: Dan Freed

I don’t know the final amount raised, but they got a small contribution for The Red Cross. Personally I don’t think that much of the money even if it help is needed. I think more of the people, the youth, who cares enough to organize these things. Our future…

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Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.
~Albert Einstein

I hate people. There, I said it. Seriously, I do. One of these day I’m going Brenda Ann Spencer on my surroundings. When I do, I am convinced the judge will see it was justified.
Well, I don’t hate all people, just the every day people. The people you meet and see on the streets, I am pretty sure they are bugging me by will. How they stop in all the wrong places. How they get in the way all the time – I have seen some making a great circle just to cut me off further down on the street. And in general how they act, both to my annoyance – Like stand in line in a supermarket for 15 minutes and still don’t be ready to pay when the cashier has registered their shopping cart full of groceries, no, they have to rummage around in their purse for another minute and preferably pay with small bills and coins, and for their own safety – have you ever seen how some people have to stand just on the curb at crosswalks? Feet together and toes millimeters from the street, I don’t know if it is plain stupidity or some kind of silent demonstration, “I have the right to use the whole sidewalk”. Well, vehicles have the right to use the full carriageway so don’t be surprised if a bus pass and hit you in the head with the rear mirror (I have seen it happen).

This might be all Swedish manners, when traveling, business or vacation, I don’t see much of this behavior. Of course I usually go off the beaten track and in low season. Smaller places and less tourist means less people. But even on busy airports, Schiphol, Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle to mention a few, people act normal. Everyone is going somewhere and they are in a hurry to get there. And in crowded cities like London, New York or Mexico City people are actually moving and don’t stop just because they happen to turn a corner.
Thinking about it, been ripped-off by cab drivers, met stoned diving guides and paid occasionally bribes then just write it off as part of the culture my tolerance level is probably somewhat higher when visiting other countries.
Are people the same all over the world? Now that is a depressing thought…
Could it be all me? Naah..

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I don’t worry about terrorism. I was married for a year.

Today I woke up to a new Sweden. One of he last remaining virginities has been taken. Last night a suicide bomber blow himself up in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. The first suicide bomber in Sweden and the Nordic countries. What to make of it is up to each and everyone of us to decide but I haven’t heard very much talk about it during the day. It wont chance my life, maybe I hear a little less of the “dangerous” countries I visit.
There are always experts claiming to know what is going on. One so called expert says, “If this was an act of a single lunatic he would have stopped with blowing up the car but with a letter to the media it indicates a greater context”
I am not trying to diminish what has happened, it is a terrible thing but greater context? In the referred mail to media and Swedish security service the bomber mentioned Swedish soldiers in Afghanistan and the Swedish silence in the controversy around Lars Vilks’ drawings of Muhammed as a dog. Lars Vilks is a Swedish artist that besides Muhammed also have made caricatures of, among others, the Pope and Jesus (wikipedia).
It wasn’t so much silence from Sweden as careful support, we do have an extended Freedom of expression and Freedom of speech in Sweden, something we stand up for though it is a corner stone in a free, democratic society.
With the mail one can conclude it is an Islamic extremist but nut cases has gone to the extreme in the name of, any, religion for thousand of years, this is no different. In his mail he also calls for his brothers to raise up, with little response. He took Jihad to Sweden but lonely lunatic never the less, no one followed him, he had to blow himself up twice. First his car and then himself.
In his mail he goes on with asking his wife for forgiveness, he had been lying about going to middle east for business, he went there to train for Jihad. If he really were in a training camp he should no how to make a bomb, Security service says this was more a puff than a bomb, luckily no one died and only two people got minor injuries.
Could have been a lot worse and it is a terrible thing but I hold on to my opinion of a single lunatic and an isolated event.

The danger lies in the thoughts it may waken among other disturbed people who wants to be remembered and go out with a bang

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