Dreaming Vegemite Rivers

Arsenal is lining up for a penalty. The keeper’s jumped into the air and jackknifed back down over someone. No additional penalty, and it’s half time, 1-0. I don’t care where you are: you can be comfortable in an Irish pub, watching the Arsenal beat Spurs. Surprisingly, we’re not the only ones watching this game – there are eight of us spread over the forest green faux leather couches. Surprising because the Gaelic football all Ireland final is on the five other tellies. But Bulmers only costs 66kr (say, $12AUD), not a face scratching $33AUD, and the barman gave me my coffee for free.
‘It’s not very good,’ he said with a smile. It’s fine, for an Americano (read: black water.)

I’m particularly happy to be in this pub today, as we’re in Gotenburg, on a rainy and overcast Sunday with the shops closed. I have to admit that Gotenburg isn’t exactly what I associate with Sweden. Not everyone’s blonde, and everything is grey. I only saw three IKEAs in the highway from the Norwegian border to here (about an hour), and not one person was yodelling. I even wound down the windows. But, country-ist stereotypes aside, Sweden is beautiful. The trees have changed from the denser, darker woods of Oslo to the thinner, lighter, what I want to call ‘spruce’ trees that I think of when I think of blondes in knitted jumpers. Tall bridges cover skinny inlets lined with boats moored to family houses. Yellow and blue road signs say things to us that I don’t understand. The language, the further north we go (or south again, now), gets further and further from English, so that you can hardly even guess any more. Andrew bought yoghurt instead of milk again (actually, last time it was buttermilk), and the only word we’ve recognised is ‘skola’ next to a primary school.

We’re staying with Linda, a stunning Swedish woman with eyes the colour of arctic glaciers, and her son Cesar. She dances all types of dances with Spanish names, and has a pole in her lounge room because she likes to pole dance for fun. Cesar’s dad, she says, died in prison two years ago. As in, was murdered. She says it was an accident. But we’re speaking English, and so she looks at Cesar. ‘He was murdered, actually. But I say it was an accident for Cesar.’ It’s not the kind of thing I expect her to say. But after he died, she met Miguel. We met Miguel last night, and he and Cesar are like peas in a pod. Miguel used to play football for the Dominican Republic, and never misses a game in television. Cesar calls him ‘Dad’.

Andrew and I are in different modes of travel, I seems. I am tired of Scandinavia – beautiful as it is – and I want to go back to the UK. We have made contact with Keith’s parents, and I can’t wait to meet them. Andy loves Scandinavia, and would stay here instead of London, if he could, I think.
Perhaps France, and Spain, for the beaches. But I miss Vegemite. And I cant help but think it means I actually miss home.

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