Last night, I simply intended to take advantage of the never-ending daylight and go for an evening run. In my shorts and sweatshirt (it's surprisingly chilly), I left at about 7pm. I had a goal of 20 minutes. Just as I was walking out the residence hall's main door, I was hailed by a tall Finn dressed in a matching blue running outfit. With my now standard smile-shrug of shoulders-apologetic 'sorry i don't speak Finnish', I started to put my headphones on and stretch for my run. The man had other ideas.
At first I thought he was asking if I needed directions - he was waving a stack of topo maps at me. Then the English became clearer, and I realized that he was part of a larger group of people I had seen at dinner, and that he was asking if I wanted to do an 'orienteering route'. I tried to plead that a.) I hadn't gone orienteering since I was about 12, b.) I didn't have a compass on me, and c.) I was just planning on going for a quick run. My excuses were not acceptable: orienteering was for everyone (age was not an excuse) - apparently it was going to be very fun and I wouldn't need a compass to find the first few markers. And I could run the course, as several people were doing (practice for orienteering competition).
I decided that when in Finland, do as the Finns do - besides, I felt bad turning the map down from such an eager person. Even if I got lost, it doesn't get particularly dark out, and there aren't really any dangerous animals (though there is a viper that lives under the boardwalk at the field site. but it's rarely lethal and less aggressive than it's Costa Rican cousins, so I'm not too worried). The result was a 40 minute run, much laughing at myself, about half of the markers (and I was quizzed at breakfast this morning about how many I had found), and many strange looks from other people taking the course a little more seriously in full-out orienteering gear (cleats, compasses, and bright blue spandex outfits. yes: families were decked out in matching gear. awesome.).
And while the spandex made me laugh, I have to say that the activity was a good excuse to get outside and walk around the lake...