Hey all, do you remember my travel idol – a Finnish world traveller Jorma Karhumaa in his 70s, from who I made an article about in last summer when I had visited the man’s place in Oulu/Finland on my way to Norway. Well, I called to Jorma this afternoon since I was curious how did his final trip go – now that he has conquered the whole world! I also happen to be in Finland at the moment, actually only two hours away from Jorma’s city. We share the same minus degrees; it’s -18 here and there in Oulu!
Jorma sounded very happy and fine. He had finished his last trip in December, and now he has officially visited all the independent countries in the world. This one last pitch stop was Laos. There were a whole crowd and a lovely ceremony waiting for his arrival since a Finnish UN consulate member had delivered the message that this big traveller is coming to the hoods. Jorma had got a t-shirt saying “Thanks for visiting Laos as a 94th country.” There had been a mistake first, but they had fixed it to -196th- quickly even Jorma didn’t mind. There were two honoured dinners, as well.
Jorma is like a star in Finland. People had recognised him at the airport and already outside of it. It’s not too common in Finland to have visited all the countries. In fact many of Finnish people think that travelling would be expensive, or that only wealthy people can afford to travel. That’s wrong. Like Jorma says with his lovely Finnish Oulu dialect “It’s not a lot when you do it right. You’ll spend much more at the restaurants.” Yep. Some part of Finns might spend a lot in the restaurants. Dark nation, liquid lunches, you know.
Jorma is pulled to many directions now. Maybe he could make it rain if he wanted, but nah, he walks his own path. He has got many enquiries to publish a book, for instance, and he had just promised to give a short lecture to the pensioner’s club before my call. I myself tried to get him to the travel exhibition that will be soon in Helsinki. No, he won’t go.
The next up is that he will have a break, that is hard to believe for the man being so energetic and active. Then in July, there will be a dream come true trip to Altai mountains on the Middle-Asia/Siberia border. It will be fascinating since it’s a route of the historical explorers. Jorma and the fellows will go with two off-roaders. Jorma had cancelled the Madagascar trip that he had earlier told me about and that I was craving for. Damn, I could have gone for him!
We agreed to keep in touch in future and ended the call before Jorma’s hand cut off freezing; he was walking outside when I happened to call. But to him, it did not matter. This buddy is used to all kinds of circumstances. So am I. We have the guts and they won’t shake easily. That’s what good world travellers are made of, right!