Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – Robinruger Beaver was 15 years old when he walked back to his home along a beach in Liberia, West Africa, in 1967.
The Beaver family lived near Monrovia, where his diplomatic father worked for the US embassy.
The tide was high, and the sea threw seaweeds and planks of wood and scattered them ashore.
Amidst the wreckage, Beaver noticed something shining under the noon sun. “I’m the type of person who’s really curious about what the ocean can bring to people who open their eyes,” Beaver told CNN.
It became clear to Beaver that it was a bottle of whiskey holding something inside.
Beaver tried to open the bottle, to no avail, but decided to bring it home with him to show his mother.
After they were able to open the bottle, it turned out that it contained a message that reads: “I threw this bottle from a merchant ship belonging to the navy that was passing at the equator near Central Africa.”
The message added: “My name is Justa Martinson, and I am a Swedish maritime merchant.”
The letter was from 1965, and it also included the sender’s address, which is Martinson’s home in Sweden.
Beaver responded enthusiastically, introducing himself, stating that he was an American teenager, one of the children of a British-American father, and an Austrian-Hungarian mother from Trieste, Italy.
Martenson was thrilled that his letter found its way to the recipient, but he was in his late twenties and thought he wouldn’t be the perfect correspondent friend of a teen.
Therefore, Martinson introduced the teen to his 14-year-old sister-in-law, Saiga Kuparinen in Finland.
Kuparinen was excited to write for Beaver, but sent a message in German because she was unsure of her ability to write in English.
The teenage wrote about her school, her friends and family, and her life in Finland.
Beaver received her message and was very happy with the idea of contacting a girl in Finland, and a connection was formed between them.
Five decades later, the duo are still in touch.
Today, Kuparinen lives with her family in Finland, while Beaver, who has spent time in various countries around the world, lives in Germany with his wife and children.
“Our friendship never stopped, even when I had my life with my daughter and my husband,” Cubarinen told CNN.
Friendship across the world
And the Beaver family didn’t stay in one place for long while growing up.
After 3 years in Liberia, the family returned to Washington for a year. For a while, Beaver’s letters arrived at Coparinen with a US postage stamp.
After that, his father started working for the United States Agency for International Development, and he was sent to Vietnam to work as a consultant during the war.
His wife and children settled in Taipei to keep a safe distance from the conflict.
Beaver wrote of his growing love for Taiwan and openly about his concerns about the future, Beaver said, “I always felt like I could write for her. I never met her, but I felt there was some kind of spiritual connection between us.”
During correspondence, their friendship was strengthened due to their shared love of rock.
As the two reached adulthood and moved away from home, not every letter was delivered.
Nevertheless, the two correspondent friends persevere until they get the correct address each time the letters are late.
Beaver continued to travel extensively into adulthood and had worked in Taiwan for a period of time prior to working in Saudi Arabia.
With the advent of the internet age, the duo began communicating via e-mail.
Sharing the links to the music they liked was easier, and the ability to attach pictures was another advantage.
Finally, a long-awaited personal meeting was planned.
An expected meeting after 35 years
Kuparinen met Beaver for the first time in person in 2003 at Helsinki Airport.
Couparinen welcomed Beaver with her husband and daughter.
And at first, it was surreal, and neither of them was sure what to say.
The two friends formally introduced themselves and shook hands.
Everyone got in the car to drive to the Coparinen house, and Beaver said, “We enjoyed some coffee and cake, and it got better after that.”
As for Cuparinen, she said she did not believe Beaver would visit her until she saw him in person.
It turned out that speaking face to face was a natural thing, just like the years the couple spent communicating via mail.
After the visit ended, the couple said goodbye to each other.
Upon his return home, Beaver received a call from the Cuparinen, and discovered that he had left his jacket by mistake, and Cubarinen said, “Let me keep it here, until you have to come back.”
More than a decade later, Beaver visited Kuparinen for the second time.
As more time passed, Beaver married, became the parent of twins, and his entire family came to visit.
And last year, Beaver, who is staying at his home in Germany due to the emerging coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, began arranging piles of letters, ID cards and souvenirs stored in his garage.
These piles are a treasure trove of memories, all related to his friendship with Cuparinen.
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