Archive for June 9th, 2009

Latvia

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

We entered Latvia and got on the one “major” road in norther Latvia. It turns out that the biggest road in northern Latvia is still a very poor quality road: It only has two lanes, is very rough, and has stretches that seem to be pot-hole conservation areas. Matt was driving and stayed in the middle of the road as much as possible to avoid the potholes, but there were still the humps in the road. We were driving along and I (david) was journaling and every little bit Matt would yell, “Hump” at which point we would go jarringly over a large hump. After the bouncing of the car had subsided, I would check to make sure my spine hadn’t pushed its way up into my brain.

We got off of this road near Riga and headed north along the Baltic coast. We stopped at a little town called Lilaste and found the beach. I was expecting a harsh ocean with a rocky beach and lots of wind due to the northern latitude, but instead the beach was very beautiful, quite placid, and had very fine, white sand. We walked along the beach before going back to the car for supper and decided to sleep out on the beach overnight. We gathered our things and made it back to the water as the sun was halfway disappeared on the horizon. We put our sleeping bags in a knoll along the beach where any beach patrol would not be able to see us and went down to the water’s edge. As the sun completely dropped out of sight I just stood at the edge of the beach and enjoyed the beautiful scene, especially the water with its different patches of blue ranging from a silvery blue to some royal blue and even some navy blue, depending on the depth of the water and the angle at which I viewed it, all tinged with an orange glint from the remaining sunset. I sat on a log and journaled on the beach as the sunset disappeared completely and the water turned first to a deep metallic blue before finally taking on an inky black color.

We got up Sunday morning, May 31, and tried to get all of the sand out of our sleeping bags, headed back to the car, and drove into Riga to try to find a church. We found one that was beginning its service just as we were checking to see what time the service began so we went in. The service seemed to be Russian Orthodox in many ways, but they crossed themselves like Roman Catholics, so we never determined what kind of service we actually attended. The service was right at two hours long; a very long time when you are not able to understand a single word that is spoken. It really made me anticipate being in a church service that I can actually understand again. There were a decent number of people at church, but as I looked around the building I saw only five to ten young adults. In Europe, the people our age just don’t go to church…or at least they don’t attend the types of services we have attended so far.

After church we found a parking spot where we were able to access the internet and two of us would explore the city as the third was online. Riga is a very nice city and culturally seems very laid back (this may be because it was Sunday afternoon). There is a green area, almost park-like, on both banks of the river that runs through the middle of the city. There were several bands playing at different spots along the river as Latvians of all ages sat on park benches eating ice cream and listening to the music. Matt and I found a festival where a Latvian rapper was entertaining a larger group of people. This festival happened to be right by where the old men congregate to play chess. I had to wonder what they thought of the rap music blaring behind them, although they didn’t seem to notice it as they studied the chess board.

We finally left Riga just after midnight and drove through the Lithuanian border before spending the night at a rest stop.

david miller