Suotaival & the Friendship Inn

Torronsuo would be the third National Park that I would visit on this maiden vanlife journey. It’s located between the towns of Forssa and Somero, and covers an area of 25.5 square kilometres. This swamp area, which was declared a national park in 1990, is a typical ombotrophic raised swamp. From the ancient Greek word ómvros, which means ‘rain’, these kinds of swamps or bogs receive all of their nutrients from the rain, rather than from streams or springs.

The Torronsuo bog has a thick turf layer with its middle part raised above its edges. The turf layer is, in fact, one of the thickest measured amongst all Finnish bogs, even up to 12 metres in some parts. The habitat is a valuable home for many species of birdlife and butterflies, with roughly a hundred species nesting there. I set out to explore the main areas of the swamp by walking the 8.5km Suotaival loop, which literally translates as ‘Swamp Passage’.

‘Suotaival’ by Jyri Manninen

After completing the Suotaival in the mid afternoon, I headed off to what would be my final destination on this first ever vanlife trip, the Ystävyyden Majatalo, or the Friendship Inn, which was established in 1988, as a place to offer people with, essentially, life guidance and support services. Originally, the inn was the Kruusila dairy, before then becoming a holiday home for the Suomen Pienviljelijät (Small Farmers of Finland organisation) prior to the change in 1988.

Ystävyyden Majatalo – the Frienship Inn

It’s possible to go and live there as a house resident while receiving the needed help. While doing so, these residents do voluntary work to not only maintain the premises, but also for supporting the needs of other visitors and guests, such as when various kinds of retreats and other events are organised there. I had, myself, spent several months here in late 2016, early 2017, to, essentially, get realigned after the end of an 18 year marriage; and things obviously worked out rather well, as I’ve never felt better about life. I’m now much better focused on directly my energy towards the people and things of true and meaningful substance. It’s actually where the spark and confidence to openly throw caution to the wind first manifested in my heart, to start my camino, bicycle touring and, now, vanlife adventures.

To every single person that has ever supported me, no matter how great or small, I dedicate this video to you, as well as to Puuma, the now passed-on Majatalo house cat, who would, through his amazingly calm and gentle demeanour, infect all those graced by his presence with that same peacefulness and the simple joy of just being. Thank you, and I’ll see you again then in the next one. Be blessed.

Here lies ‘Puuma’.

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