Saturday, May 28, 2011

Random Reasons to Report

Hello! Just a few random items to discuss today as we have been doing "this and that" over the past week. We spent an afternoon on the warm beach of Jurmala several days ago. That sand is the most beautifully, soft, silky, fine sand on the earth! Absolutely delightful to stick your bare feet into.

Jurmala, Latvia

Neatest Roller Coaster playground structure

Someone in the U.S. really needs to get this on the market!

We continue our occasional bike rides around Salaspils while the kids are in bed. They are considered our "date nights".

Scenery around's so oppressive to see these buildings. Is it to the locals? I don't know yet. I haven't wanted to bring it up! It's just the "middle class American suburban housewife" in me that has these old Soviet buildings giving me the shivers. 

One more picture of me showing off on the bike! I mean....this is pretty special! We always joke that it's like being in a movie, riding thru an Italian village...hehehehe.....we've even packed the baskets down with food from the market and biked home! 

The cemeteries in Latvia are certainly notable. They are nestled into the forest. People take great care to create a beautiful, loving resting spot for their loved ones. It really is similar to gardening. Around many plots are cement borders, occasionally a decorative fence along the border of several plots, obviously where many family members are buried together. Plots are lined with planted bushes and garden flowers. I've never seen anything like it. Perhaps this is common elsewhere, certainly not in the U.S. It is very peaceful and quiet in the forest with birds chirping their merry little songs. It is humbling. It is thought provoking. It makes me think of the delicate nature of life. When we are here we have a reason to visit the cemetery. Jekabs' sister Katrina is buried in one. She died 10 years ago from injuries sustained in a car accident in the U.S. We visited her grave 2 days ago. 

Keeping with serious topics......We also visited the concentration camp that was built during WWII that sits within minutes of Salaspils. I actually never knew it was there! In the 3 previous trips I took here, it never came up! That was also humbling. From the source I read, about 15,000 people were put to death here. That is also a bleak reality of the history of this part of the world. Latvia endured invasion from the Soviet Union AND the Nazi's during the WWII period of history. 
Memorial structure at the entrance

Memorial statues (do you LOVE 
how detailed I am with the content!)

Have I depressed you yet? 

Ok....I thought I would mention a few notable cultural differences.  Nothing too wild, just different. 
*People tend to avoid communicating with each other on the street and around town, no eye contact! Jekabs  
      tells me this is normal. 
*They are really stingy on grocery bags.....which you have to pay for anyway. 
* The environment feels oppressive with all the old soviet buildings.
*Life seems more simple in some ways. For example, most people don't seem to be concerned with the 
      material possessions within their homes. Most homes are very modest. From those that I have seen, they 
      are either old, Soviet style or newer but very simple. 
*Everyday I see people carrying small bouquets of flowers, either for themselves or
      as a thoughtful gesture when visiting someone's home. 

The alignment on that paragraph is a little wacky! I imported it from notepad. It'll just have to stay. Time to quit ignoring my family and get back to life offline. 

There are probably some more interesting things I wanted to share, but I can't think of them now! 



  1. Awesome job posting! Did you guys get in the water? Is it cold this time of year? Looks like fun in Latvia!

  2. Hi Pete! No, we did not get in the water. Jekabs' dad did! It's pretty chilly in the water, but not terribly cold. The weather here is fantastic, 60-70 degrees.