29 July 2006

Country 89 – Latvian Girls Love Flowers

In April I detailed my momentary infatuation with Estonia. I had never been anywhere in the world where I felt quite as comfortable, including the USA, but I knew it couldn’t last simply because the WINTER is so ferocious and debilitating and I love the SUN. In visiting Latvia I returned to a Baltic country and for the first time in my life I experienced the barely ever setting sun. I have to tell you that I love the sun. I have great memories of playing stickball late into the summer evenings back in the USA – let’s say as late as 9:30 when you finally couldn’t see the ball being pitched to you. In Latvia, and Sweden as well, it is bright way beyond even that. There is enough sun to play stickball as late as 11:30 just in case some American kids wish to play on the streets of Stockholm or Riga.

Anyway, getting back to Latvia, I have to admit that Riga is every bit as charming as Tallinn within the old city. There is construction everywhere you look in Riga. My thought is that Riga had further to progress than did Estonia but I don’t know if that really is the case.

What I found interesting during my visit to Latvia was that these were the people who, as part of the Soviet empire, were intent on killing Americans. I explained to one Latvian that as a child I would go to the basement of my school and sit facing the wall and fold myself into a big ball – all based on the evils of the Soviet and their desire to rule to world. This same person showed me a picture of his mother taking shooting instruction based on the same concept – the evil USA and its intent to destroy the Soviet.

Clearly these people were as interested in having a good life then as they are now. I have long learned that parents simply want to raise their children in happiness and pray that they will succeed beyond their wildest hopes and dreams. I am certain that the Latvian’s wanted for their children in the 1950’s what I want for my children now. The lesson for me is that politicians breed distrust. We both laughed about the absurdity of it all.

What I also discovered in Latvia is that flowers dominate. Everyone brings flowers to give as a present. As I arrived at the airport in Riga I walked past throngs of people awaiting their loved ones and they all seemed to have flowers in hand. I asked what that was about and I was told that all Latvian girls love flowers. Next time I will arrive with flowers in my hand.

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