18 May 2013
A lot of stuff went on during our boat ride back from Sweden last Saturday. There were no restrictions for players or coaches so you can imagine it was a fun time. One of the things that was arranged by management was the rental of the boat’s sauna facility. Sauna is a big deal in Finland. Most homes have a sauna and the Finns enjoy them on a regular basis. They seem to like to get really hot and then get really cold… repeatedly.
One thing I found interesting was the way they say the word “sauna.” I have always pronounced it “SAW-nuh.” Until that recent commercial that has aired on American television that features the insurance lady that spouts off their policy of giving you a fair assessment of various insurance rates for various companies in which two insurance scammers’ legs burst into flames after telling some lies, I was unaware that the actual pronunciation is “Sah-oo-nuh”, or faster “SOW-nuh.” One thing about the Finnish language is they are consistent in the way they make sounds for their letters.
The boat’s sauna facility was very nice. It could probably seat about 10 in a pinch. They give you a little square heavy towelette thing to stick under your ass so you don’t pollute the benches. The centerpiece of the sauna is a heating device on which rests a bunch of hot rocks. Nearby is a wooden bucket filled with water and complete with a wooden ladle. All the benches are nice wood and hot.
When you first walk in the heat hits you like about five times the amount you experience when you deplane on the tarmac in the Caribbean. Everyone is naked… no covering up evidently. When they take the ladle and spoon water onto the rocks you are hit with a super intense wave of heat and humidity that makes it hard to breathe. I had to cup my hands over my face a bit each time right after the water was applied in order to not scald my nostrils and lungs. I managed to handle about 10 minutes of the room. At that point, I donned my towel and went out to the staging area to socialize.
The staging area is basically like a little living room with chairs, a low table in the center, and all completely done in tile. Next to the seating area is a small, cold pool. The players were having a grand time leaping into and getting out of the pool after exiting the sauna. This is best described like a community swimming pool in a town’s center on a hot summer day filled with 12 year olds.
The coaches and management were content sitting around (with towels now) around the low table drinking cold beers and visiting. Several televisions were scattered about hung high on the walls and airing (of course) hockey. The place was staffed near the entry by two women of all things. Nobody seemed to mind that the integrated sitting and pool area just to the side of the staffed entrance was full of naked players leaping into and out of the pool. Both sets of people were oblivious to one another. Obviously some cultural differences here.
We hung out enjoying a couple of beers and conversation about the upcoming season and our debacle of a scrimmage for about 30 minutes or so. The party then broke up and we were all off on our own to find some food and entertain ourselves for the rest of the 12-hour journey back to Finland.