Through the lace curtains on the windows, I see a glimmer of moonlight and sleep better than I have in ages. In the morning, after a hearty breakfast of porridge and sausages and eggs, we walk around the village and view a log house that is being built for a young family with children. It is a beacon of hope for a village whose population is senior. PERSEVERING AGAINST THE ODDS Paanajärvi is the only Karelian village in Viena that has preserved its original appearance. But it has been under threat for 50 years. During Stalin's regime, plans were drawn up for building a power plant at the Valkeakoski rapids of the Kemi River. The plan, had it been carried out, would have inundated vast areas, including Paanajärvi village. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the power plant project was interrupted. Now, although the village is being restored and revived, the threat has not yet subsided as the average age here is about 70 and the population has dwindled from what it once was. Almost across the gravel road from Vieno and Risto's house is the home of Anni Popova, a retired teacher, who is perhaps the village' best-known resident. Finnish filmmaker Lasse Naukkarinen spent several years making Anni from Paanajärvi (2005), a documentary which tells her story and that of the village and its restoration. As Risto rows us across the river back to our four-wheel drive on the other side, the village viewed from the river seems unreal. And I feel as though I have visited a place that I didn't know existed in my lifetime. Finnair flies nonstop to Kuusamo daily. The village's spiritual leader Anni Popova is also the subject of a 2005 documentary "Anni from Paanajärvi."
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