One of the fun activities to do when visiting Finnish Lapland is to go dog sledding with Siberian huskies. With a spare day in the city of Rovaniemi in northern Finland, this seemed like the perfect way to spend the day out in the March snow.
When we arrived at the husky farm, we were introduced to the dogs and split up into pairs. Being a solo traveller, I was paired up with a Japanese girl, Kayoko who was about the same age and also on her own. After we were given our instructions, she said that she did not want to drive so I could do both turns, which was fine with me.
Off we set a convoy of dog sleds heading along a track into the woods, at first taking it slowly as we got the feel for everything. Soon enough we were at a cracking pace, racing through the forest. Driving the sleds was really all about managing the speed of the dogs and sled, generally slowing the sled at corners and going downhill, by stepping onto a bar that drives claws into the ground and slowing the sled. The huskies were quite funny to watch, always so eager to get running whenever we had to stop. I think we had a strong team as I often had to brake to avoid running into the back of the sled in front of me as the dogs would just try to run around it.
When we had set off there was plenty of snow blanketing the ground, but the air was clear. That soon changed and we were hit with waves of snow, some light and some less so. As we went along the forest tracks, Kayoko took photos for us both and I was having a ball driving as we flew through the forest and the snow.
As we got talking, I happened to mention that I had learnt Japanese in high school and Kayoko said that she worked as an English tutor. After getting through the Japanese basics that I could recall, Kayoko started throwing out some phrases that I had forgotten and we got to practicing. Soon we were speaking mostly in Japanese (me mostly in short words and phrases admittedly), my companion gently chiding my when I spoke in English and giving me the Japanese translation. This continued on for probably the last 20 to 30 minutes of the sled ride and for a brief time some of my Japanese returned.
Anyway, that’s how I ended up being tutored in Japanese while sledding with Siberian huskies in the snowy forests of Finnish Lapland. What a weird sentence.
Have you had ever had an odd scenario where old language skills have come up? Please share in the comments.