My Adventures Touring Europe in 1982 (5) Sweden
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Monday, June 28
That evening, we were supposed to see a circus, but I decided to bypass that and take a trip to Sweden. I had always wanted to visit the land of the Vikings, Midnight Sun, and Abba. What had especially piqued my interest was an article I’d read in an April 1981 issue of Essence magazine about blacks in Sweden. A woman had left New York City and moved there “for a man”. Though the relationship fell apart, she decided to remain and live there, adopting the culture and learning the language. She described the various cultural differences between New York and Stockholm. Other friends of hers made the move, and one of them was even teaching gospel music to the choir in her new home church!
Since Sweden was only a 40 minute boat ride away, it was easy to get there. I sailed across to Malmo, which is the southernmost town in the country. Being around 5 in the evening, I didn’t have time to make the 8 hour trip to Stockholm, so Malmo would have to do.
The weather was dreary and overcast, though at least it didn’t rain. Malmo was a tiny, quiet town; not much was happening. I found a few shops open, and bought a couple pairs of earrings at one. I also bought a fish burger, wanting to see if fish tasted any different in Scandinavia. It was the best fish I’d ever had.
As I walked around, several people stared at me. I wasn’t surprised; the Essence article author had said she would go for several days without seeing another black. She even told of one time when she saw another black woman walking down the street, they had rushed into each other’s arms, crying and laughing with relief!
At one point, a man sitting on a park bench waved and beckoned me over. I decided not to go to him, because according to the article, Swedish men often believe black women are an easy lay. So I just smiled, shook my head, and moved on.
Swedes are also supposed to be undemonstrative emotionally. So you can imagine the good laugh I got when I was walking past an office window, and a man gazing out saw me and gawked! He looked as if he might crash through it! I was prudent enough to hide my laughter.
Due to the late time, I stayed only an hour and a half. Then I sailed back to Copenhagen and returned to the hotel. Everyone was still at the circus when I arrived, so I was in my room alone. I checked the clothing I had spread out over the heater; they were still wet.
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© 2013 Yoleen Lucas