There's so much to talk about I don't know where to begin. Last time I updated you, I was in Helsinki-Vantaa airport, waiting for my flight Oop North. It was one of those odd commuter flights that takes people to several different places - in this case, to Kittila and Ivalo - then back to Helsinki in a circuit. I think the Kittila-Ivalo flight was only twenty minutes! (I must add here, FinnAir vastly outclasses Air Canada and WestJet - very comfortable and efficient.) And then I stepped out into a vast expanse of white, made pink by the setting sun - at 1 PM.
From there, it was less than an hour by bus to Inari. We are very close to Russia here - there were road signs for Murmansk! My heart is still a little bit Russian, so I admit I squealed.
I'm staying at Inari Holiday Village, a collection of very cozy cabins at the south end of town. Very reasonably priced, too, at 69 Euro per night with my own shower and bathroom. I kind of wish I'd sprung for the sauna cabin, TBH, but next time, I guess. Initially I was worried because the theatres are all in the north part of town, but it turns out Inari is highly walkable, complete with sidewalks and streetlights (so I don't get to use my expensive flashlight after all). Much better than a Canadian town of similar size might have, just from my experience, though I haven't been to any in the Arctic. They have little cafes and hotels, along with a tour company full of Arctic adventures I would love to try, and a very well-stocked, reasonably priced supermarket (Canada, why can't we at least manage that in the North?). Look, they even have Moomin products!
As for the weather- yes, it is terribly snowy and quite cold, but overall pretty manageable. My Winnipeg-born mother advised me to layer, which is working nicely for now, and the more I go out the easier it gets. I think the only time I was genuinely cold was in the Snow Theatre (which is exactly what it sounds like), and I'm pretty sure sitting on a pile of snow and reindeer furs in -34 for a couple of hours would make anyone cold. The glögg they served helped. A lot. (Also, stealing my mom's Sorel boots and Icelandic sweater was the best thing I ever did - sorry, Mom.)
The darkness is OK as well, I think because the town is well-lit at night and it's not terribly different from Moscow. There's about an hour or so of daylight, a long period of twilight, and then hours of darkness. I experienced the reverse last summer, so really this is just the other side of the coin.
Now, the part I supposedly came for - the films! It's an international selection of Indigenous films from around the world, including the Americas, Ukraine, Australia and the Pacific, and East Asia. So far, I have seen four shorts, two Sami and two Canadian (Cree and Innu), all of which were quite good. The filmmaker for the Cree-language film, who is Métis, performed a traditional song for us, accompanied by a Sami woman. It was really cool to see all of these diverse peoples coming together - and their awesome films!
Here are some pictures from the Snow Theatre, as well as Inari in general: