Sanctuary – a place of safety, a place out of the reach of the law. I read there were several areas like this in cities until relatively recently. It was a right left over from religious institutions, and after they left the areas kept the right.
A sanctuary in present day Sweden is an odd idea. No-one should be beyond the reach of the law, after all. And yet there does seem to be a need for such a place in the current virus crisis. Actually I’ve found one, and it’s in the north of Sweden.
It’s not so near Kiruna, but a hop skip and a jump away, and a popular holiday destination. Boden, by the sea, is famous not for its beaches so much as for ‘Western Farm’, a re-creation of the Wild West. Here visitors can experience a typical ‘wild west’ settlement of wooden huts and saloon, from the period around 1879, all watched over by a Sheriff. There is entertainment, naturally, and you can even stay there overnight if you want. I’ve never been, but I hear there are the usual things there – animals, rodeo, horses, cowboys, big hats and guns (fake, hopefully).
What ‘Western Farm’ promises is a real wild west experience, and so that it can be safe for people to visit in these difficult times – in Sweden, where the virus is allowed to roam free, like buffalo on the prairies – ‘Western Farm’ has a Coronavirus Sheriff.
Yes sirree! You people get closer than the length of a bison and that Sheriff will be on your back before you can shout ‘howdee!’. The Sheriff tells you what you can and can’t do. You can’t sit close to people anywhere, but you can sit or stand apart. You can’t queue up at the saloon bar, but you can sit down at a table. You can’t run around uncontrollably in any old direction, but you can follow the signs. Offenders will get three days in jail, followed by a get out of jail free card, followed by eviction from the area. The Sheriff will have his eye on you and any loose talk about breaking the law and you’ll be in mighty big trouble.
What a relief, for those of struggling with the uncontrollable hordes at loose all over Sweden. It’s a sanctuary – a safe place from the virus. I’m going there for my holidays and might even hook up my horse and stay.