Rovaniemi Mayor Esko Lotvonen: Even a Bureaucrat Can Be Happy
Visit Finland invited people to experience how the Finns live in true harmony with nature through their initiative, Rent a Finn. There were over 6000 applicants from all around the world. Let us introduce you one of the happiness guides of the campaign, Esko Lotvonen, Mayor of Rovaniemi, the Official Hometown of Santa Claus, located next to the Arctic Circle in Lapland. Esko and his wife Maria will host Criddle family from San Diego, California, USA. Dentist Preston, his wife Maria and their two children Savin and Hobson will accompany family Lotvonen in summer 2019.
Why did you apply to be one of the hosts in the Rent a Finn campaign?
“I saw it as a good opportunity to tell people all around the world, that Rovaniemi is not only a winter destination. Summers are also amazing here. That’s why I would like to emphasize, that this season also has a lot to offer for visitors. In order to do so, I will take my guests to our summer cottage. But of course, we also visit Santa Claus and the big museums in the city. I would like to explain to them how we take care of our forests in Lapland and what kind of living circumstances we have in the Nordic area. The program has spread globally, it was in the news for example in Canada, South Africa or in Great Britain and also in South-European countries. So, it’s a good opportunity to expand knowledge about Lapland and the Nordic countries. As part of the Rent a Finn campaign we give several interviews and I also had the chance to travel to China. There I met a person who “rented” me for an hour. We had a nice conversation over a cup of tea, while I told him, among other topics, about the mentality of Finnish people.”
I think your decision is unique in that way, that not too many mayors would be so open-minded to participate in a program like this. What was your motivation?
“Many of the eight guides are entrepreneurs whose job somehow is related to nature. Unlike them, I am a civil servant. Through this program, I have the possibility to show that even a bureaucrat can be happy. I can also reveal how can I get the energy to do my job. Hopefully, I can give an example to many people around the world how to balance between working life and private life.”
Why is the summer so special here?
“In Lapland, summer is an intensive period, because nature wakes up very quickly after the long winter. There’s so much light already in June, that’s why the growth is so fast. In that sense, our summer is very hectic. What I have experienced with my foreign guests is that they admire the variety of colors of the Lappish summer. Our waters are very clean, and they resemble silver. Coming from a country where the nights are dark, they can never see this silver shade of waters. The colors of the North, in general, are totally different compared to the southern part of the world. Then, of course, the purity of nature is also something amazing here. You can drink from the rapids; you can pick and eat berries in the forests. The quality of the environment is very good. This is one of the reasons why we have so many visitors from Asian countries for example. The big cities are very polluted over there. Rovaniemi and Lapland is a good summer destination also for those, who don’t like extremely hot summers. We also can have hot weather here but normally the summer is colder. Even when the weather is a bit chillier, it’s just a matter of proper clothing, and nothing will keep you from enjoying your time.”
Do you have any special hobbies related to summer?
“In my life winter is the time for the hard work. I spend that period of the year in Rovaniemi. When I have the chance, I do some skiing or other outdoor activities in the city. During the summer, we spend most of our time in the two cottages what our family owns. They are very different, therefore they offer different activities. One is in a very good fishing area. So I take advantage of it and I fish. When we stay in the other cottage, over there I mostly row a boat and swim. No matter where we are, we go to the sauna almost every evening. We have six grandchildren living in Rovaniemi. Two more live in southern Finland. With the boys I fish a lot, we swim or row a boat and pick berries in the forest. We lead a physically active life while we stay in our summer cottage. Simply because there are certain things, we need to take care of. We chop firewood to heat up the sauna and the fireplace in the main building. My wife takes care of the garden, I cut the grass. My lifestyle is very different in winter and in summer. That’s why everything is special for me what I do during the summer.”