To chose Jokkmokk – for life
There are some people that stay in their neighbourhood their whole life, from birth and that’s the life they chose. Others move around, perhaps not just once, but many times. What makes people from cities or even other countries move and settle in a small inland rural district like Jokkmokk?
Three tourism entrepreneurs, Eva Gunnare, Cecilia Lundin and Dirk Hagenbuch, tells us their reason for settling in this municipality located right on the Arctic Circle.
Eva discovers new layers all the time
The food creator and culture guide Eva Gunnare is one of the ones that swapped the city for Jokkmokk. Although it was not an intentional choice – initially. Eva loved to travel, already at a young age, around the world, however when she was a twenty year old arrived in Kvikkjokk to work as a host at the cabins, life took a new turn.
- Since then I’ve just not had the same urge to travel. Instead I have travelled in the same area for thirty years. Discovered and learnt more and more at a nice pace, scraped off new layers all the time, Eva says.
She grew up in the middle of Stockholm and realised in time she had no relation to the city at all. Sure, she knew the suburbs and knew names of streets, yet life in Jokkmokk was something completely different. The feeling was strong.
- It’s about being seen, to be a part of the community. Hear I meet new people all the time. It’s so cool. You simply dig where you stand.
Jokkmokk – a small metropol
As Eva works with tourism she is constantly reminded of when she her self first arrived. She has pondered upon why she likes Jokkmokk and asked herself what it is she sees in the place, likes, and is passionate about.
- Here I can be myself, to the core, here I dare to open up and give my all. People tell you straight what they think, yet there’s a warmth that I like, Eva states.
- Jokkmokk is a small metropole, a small city. Sure, in reality it is a tiny, tiny, community yet it is a regional centre, that combination implies there are a lot of things happening here. People arrive here through the Market aspect, through many organisations and associations, which creates a lot of interaction and a never ending stream of things to do. This gives us a huge choice, and the chance for anyone to participate. I truly like Jokkmokk!
Cecilia has never had enough, just changing her focus
Just like so many others, Cecilia Lundin came to Jokkmokk because of it’s nature. She had signed up for the ecology course at Samernas Utbildningscentrum. That’s twenty years ago, yet essentially nothing’s changed. Nature is still the reason for staying. She has still not had enough.
- Interest in nature is a huge area, it has no end. I never get tired at nature around here, I just change my focus. There is such an enormous amount to explore in so many ways. I’ve never got stuck in a rut but walk in the same area time after time and do new things all the time, Cecilia explains.
- I hiked a lot, for a while, then I started to paddel. There are just so many things to do, you wouldn’t even cover them all in a life time
Locals raised their eyebrows
Cecilia too eventually became a tourism entrepreneur. Then, in 2006, there were not that many activity business’ in Jokkmokk and the ones that were around were, for the most part, just like her, new-comers. The locals raised their eyebrows when Ceclilia started to build igloos together with visitors, who happily paid a sum to sleep in them. No-one had seen the option of snow being used, despite the fact there’s a never ending supply of snow, or as much as you could possibly need.
- When you’re from somewhere else you look at the place and its possibilities with a different view. Even if you don’t always understand the new place to its full extent, you’re curious and soon learn, says Cecilia.
People with local blindness watched and wondered. Cecilia has, with time, had a much more positive response for her unusual activity, from guests and Jokkmokkarna.
The silence captured Dirk
Dirk Hagenbuch came to the wilderness village Solberget, as a volunteer in 1993. He, together with about fifteen other volunteers from all around the globe, came to help the German couple that ran a small tourist business on the farm.
- As soon as I stepped off the train in Murjek I reacted to how quiet it was. The silence and nature captured me. I went by bus 44 kilometers and all we passed were forest, lakes and rivers. Just nature everywhere. I remember it so well, it was fascinating, Dirk says.
The German student’s first impression of Solberget was very special. Situated in the middle of the forest, twenty kilometers from the closest neighbour, no electricity, no water.
- We carried water from the lake, we had wood fires, kerosene lanterns at night and we bathed in the wood fired sauna. It was awesome!
His dream has come true
Life on the remote farm suited Dirk. And still does. Everything is calm and just right. Neither the community or life is especially stressful compared to life in his homeland. He knew what he wanted in life already as a student; nature and adventure, an old farm, animals and people. Solberget is where he has made his dream come true.
It’s now twenty years since Dirk himself became a tourist entrepreneur at Solberget. The feeling of home, of belonging to the area, with Nattavaara and Jokkmokk, is strong.
Once a year he takes a week off to go skiing in the mountains with a friend, just for his own pleasure. They do short half-day trips, eat well and simply enjoy life.
- I could just as easy enjoy a day at a Spa with my wife or the two weeks in autumn when the family goes to sit on the beach, drinking cappucino, eating ice-cream and fill up on sun and warmth, says Dirk.
- But, says Dirk, Solberget is where my home is these days..