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Vilnius. Our would-be host, one Maruska, complained of a client with "dika sango" (thick blood) and instead referred us to a friend of his, who offered us bizarrely cheap housing in an Old Town apartment. Maruska even showed us the way to the apartment, walking the entire way with a bottle of leeches in his bicycle basket.

Kaunas. The Narbutases have a crazy cat who tried to eat my pants. They showed us around some Lithuanian ethnographic museum as if they owned the place - jumping barriers and turning the stone mills. The whole thing is a haze to me because Ramunas spoke to us only in a strange dialect of Esperanto with uvular r's (think Esperanto with a French accent). We visited a monastery (we couldn't figure out what the Esperanto word for "monastery" is) and a nun gave us a tour, pointing out in detail which members of which nationalities had defaced the 17th-century chapel: Napoleon stole a bell from the south tower, the Russians destroyed the frescoes, the Soviets tore down the statue of Mary.

Palanga. Our host, a kindly architect in his late 50s, had a picture of a naked lady hung up in the bathroom. He encouraged us to hitchhike to Nida and sleep out on the dunes, under the stars. (We were hardly equipped.) On his shelf: five Gregorian Chant CDs, Enya's Greatest Hits.

Nida. We built a sandcastle and called it Rome 2000 (with new technology, it CAN be built in a day). I wrote "Don't tread on me" across the front to egg on the incoming tide. We checked the structure the next day and found it to be sound, but my inscription was erased. So much for the founding fathers!

Tartu. I went to the ATM and found that my debit card was missing. Called to cancel it. Who knows where it's gotten to. Riga? We stayed with a kind, Esperanto-speaking family, whose photographs in historical garb appear in Tartu's tourist literature. Kalle, the father, reads Harry Potter to his kids before they go to sleep, and showed off his Estonian translation of "Eragon" to us. His wife made us tea from the "ebaküdoonia" fruit and asked us what, if any, difference exists between the English words "graveyard" and "cemetery." Tartu is, so far, my favorite city that we've been to on this trip - peaceful, comely, good Georgian food.

Hiiumaa. The hostel was further out of town than I expected and we weren't off the bus until after sunset. The road to the hostel was unlit. Armed with the knowledge that a cemetery (or graveyard) was nearby, my brain conjured all manner of spectral illusions - ghosts, zombies, our own corpses lying, slashed by ethereal killers, helpless on the roadside, relieved of their spirits who now must forever haunt that ghastly road, shining their flashlights in vain for any sign of the hostel. When we finally arrived, the hostel keeper answered the door, answered his cell phone, spoke to a friend for five minutes while we waited with our packs on, then turned to us and asked, "what's the problem?" The next day we moved to a different hostel, borrowed bikes, and biked much further than a chair-bound nerd like myself has any license to bike. My ass still hurts.

Tallinn. We just arrived this morning.

Riga. We get there in a few days.

New York. Soon enough.

Ironto

Aug. 29th, 2005 11:50 pm
aparrish: (Default)
I met my new, temporary flatmate today. He seems like an upstanding gentleman. He has the new Gang Gang Dance album on his hard drive.

Josh and I leave for Lithuania on Wednesday. With the exception of two hostel bookings that we made in Tallinn and Kärdla, we'll be staying the entire trip with Esperantists (thanks to Passporty Service). One of them runs an acupuncture business in Vilnius; another wears a gnome cap. I have always wanted to live a novel and it seems like I'll have a pretty good shot at it on this trip.

I will make every attempt to send dispatches, as time and access to the Internet permit. (Apparently you can't spit without hitting an Internet café in this part of the world, though, so access shouldn't be a problem.) I'm also bringing my minidisc recorder, so hopefully when I return I will have many recordings of Baltic insects and belfries for you, along with recordings of a number of friendly Esperantists singing the stirring anthem of Esperanto.
Our diligent set of colleagues
in peaceful labor will never tire,
until the beautiful dream of the humanity
for eternal blessing is realized.

March 2016

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