‘My work here in the mountains does not define me’ – Rick Boyd

Most of the people who filled out the form to participate in the IndoWorld Photo Project are strangers to me and vice versa. For this first portrait for the IndoWorld Photo Project, I travel to the north of Sweden. I’m traveling there to meet Rick Boyd Bouwman.

There is a lot of trust going on to visit Rick Boyd Bouwman in the north of Sweden. The only way to travel there is to take the international flight from Stockholm to Kiruna, take the bus to Nikkaluokta for one hour, and finally take a snow scooter to the mountain-station Kebnekaise. A place where in wintertime, it can be -38 degrees (-36.4°F) and this spring 0 degrees (32°F) at the end of April.

Rick studied at the International Wilderness Guide School in Finland where it took him two years to get in, after applying for a second time. He followed a survival programme in the woods of Russia and survived in the snowy mountains with skis, sleeping outside in -25 degrees (-13°F) for 8 days. This Indo is thought to become eventually your personal guide and take you anywhere in all seasons.

The first day I arrived, Rick took me to the first rock behind the station and gave me snow boots and a snow rack to walk with. These snow racks are designed so my feet won’t go kneedeep all the time. ‘Watch out for these reversed landmines,’ he said. I literally followed Ricks footsteps that paved the way. A metaphor for my IndoWorld Photo Project

Rick took me up a mountain, there I thought: ‘I better do this interview already.’ I had a feeling every moment is an opportunity here. There was no time to waste. After our mountain expedition, in the evening Rick and his girlfriend Sandra took me out to dinner in the restaurant where the food was truly wonderful.

Kebkenaise first day hike

The next day we decided to do the interview in the morning, we planned to hike towards the mountains and set up a tent just for the experience afterward. During those trips, I recorded everything Rick told me, in the hope he would say something I could not have captured otherwise. We will see what I can use for the edit.

My experience felt lively. I felt humbled between the mountains, The force of nature is felt clearly when it is awfully quiet when you take time to listen. The deafening silence between three giant brothers, whose division was carved out by glaciers from the ice age. It is serious business out here. A few weeks ago a man died in an avalanche which surprised the group that he was hiking with. They could not save him in time with the trauma helicopter and was almost buried alive. Unfortunately did not survive.

Today we heard gunshots in the mountains, which probably was a rock that got loose and crumbled down. In the morning there was not a cloud in the sky, but the snowy landscape changed rapidly causing all kinds of trouble. Guests on snow scooters got stuck because the snow was too wet. The heavy scooters were having trouble to find enough grip on the ice, which was changing the landscape from melted ice into small rivers.

In the meantime, we set up a tent and enjoyed the view a little bit. Rick cooked some packed rice with beef and boiled the water from ice. This lunch after the first half of our hiking trip was one for the books in my experience. We ended at the foot of the mountains, where Rick took this photo from me. I was setting up my camera for an epic time lapse and it turns out, the photo Rick took of me was even more epic.

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The next day it was time for me to go. The warm weather caused the scooters to travel only once in the morning, and luckily Sandra booked me a scooter a day earlier because she had a sense it would have been my last chance to catch my flight. She was right. The next day, the scooters company stopped their service and probably won’t run all summer until August, because the mountain station is closing at the first of May.

The reason for that is to give the reindeers some space for their cubs to be born.The mountain community which is run by the Sami people (an ethnic group with a mysterious history as to where they exactly came from) pay respect to the nature they are living in.

There is a lot of respect for all the people as well. Nobody judges one another. Everybody is equal and there is no difference in types of jobs to do, or between genders. Everybody needs each other to survive. From doctors to champion ski professionals. They leave their professions at home to sweep the floors at the mountain station. Nobody asks what you do, because that is not what defines you here. Even when they are curious who you are. At first, they give each other space.

I haven’t spoken with a lot of people, but I spoke a few words with Marith, the owner of the place. Rick told me she thought it very interesting the reason I came to the north of Sweden for. She is Sami and recognized a lot from my story.

My photography/film session and the rock fall were the talks of the day. If I would have had more time it would have been very interesting to document the Sami people as well. Maybe one day I can cover that parallel with the Indo story. I’m grateful to have this as the first experience for the IndoWorld Photo Project. I always find that meeting the people, is more important than the picture I take. I’m curious to see who I will meet next in my Project. This experience is worth it all the way.

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