About Latvia 2014

Dear followers!

You will be soon able to follow me on my new project, starting on 1st September 2015.

I will cross again this wonderfull country but in a different way and with a new purpose.

Discover this new exiting adventure here:



I left Viesite around 7.30. I walked to the centre. Thus is a lovely village with nice wooden houses, all in different colours.
 At the bus station I found and cafeteria, I had there a coffee and took some time to look at the map.
Today, my destination was towards the Daugava river. Thus is the main river in Latvia, flowing to Riga and the Baltic sea.
For the first time, it was a bright sunny day. The road was quite easy, a broad sandy and hard ground. I was progressing fast. Not many villages to cross, some forest, but on a very good surface.
The day was quite warm, 5 degrees Celsius, with a light wind pushing me in the back.
I quickly reach 4PM, it was time to think of a place,to stay. As I was not far to join an asphalted road, I walked yet an hour.
Just before the village of Zasas. I stopped at a farm to ask if I could stay there.
A young woman was there waiting for her little girl to come back with the school bus.
Then arrived a man in a big 4X4, dressed in a suit, tie and town shoes.
The woman told him about my enquiry. He made a phone call and after some minutes he proposed to take me home.
He was living some 2km away. He wasn't speaking English, only Russian. His name Aigars.
We soon arrived at a place with 3 houses. In the courtyard were parked some tractors and trucks. Two houses were obviously newly renovated.
He took me in one house were is father was staying. An 83 old man,   bending on a stick, with as it seemed, some auditing problem. The TV was running so loudly.
I unpacked my stuff. Meanwhile, a young teenager came to me. I was speaking a perfect american english.
Karlis, 14 years old, he totally found of online video games. This clarify things. He is playing with other gamers from all over the world, and as for many other things, English is the international language.
We talk a long time. He was very bright boy, had already some opinions on many things.
Aigars took me for a walk on his land. He wanted to show me some curiosities. We walked through a field and amongst few trees were lying a huge rock with some Words in German. It was dated 13th century.
Some steeps furthers, he showed me 3 bunkers. I heard about those bunkers. They were made by Latvian people who wanted to hide from the Russian during soviet occupation, to avoid being sent to work camps or deported to some other part of the Soviet Union.

Later, we were called for dinner. I was then introduce to Olita, Aigars wife.
She had prepared a good meal for us. Olita is a teacher at the nearby town of Zusa.
On the table was laying a news paper. I was then stroke seeing my picture and an article written about me.
I must admit my asthonisment about the media cover concerning my travel. It was announced on several radios,  published in many news papers, and was 3 times interviewed by TVs.
All thus sudden popularity helped me a lot. Many people in street recognised me, and so many offered me a drink and goods on the way. I have been given some 15 kg of apples for all my trip!
After dinner, once more, I had sauna. It became an habit to me. But it is so relaxing after a while day walking. Muscles and joins are softly released from tensions.
In the morning, I had to leave early. Olita had to teach at Zusa's school. We said goodbye in front of the quite imposing building, where many different classes are held.
Latvian education system is made of classes. Class 1 to 12. After class 12, those who wish it can join university.
The sky was cloudy and I had few light showers. I walked the 15km that was taking me to the point I wished to cross the river Daugava, to reach the city of Livani.
There is no bridge to join the two banks of the rivers. On Google Maps, I saw that a little ferry was running there. In fact, it is a (barge) winched from side to side.
I wasn't sure if I would be able to cross. If not, then a (detour) of 55 km would had to be made, crossing in Jegavpils city.
Approaching, I saw from far the river covered by ice. Release! I might be able to walk over it. But still, I wasn't certain the river was practicable. Temperature were over zero during day, and I didn't know how thick was the ice.
I asked a man in a nearby house if I could safely cross. He told me that he doesn't know, but 2 days ago he saw people crossing.
I went by the bank, and the ice layer seemed to me very thick, so thick that one could not even see the water underneath. I decided to go. The ice was very hard, no sounds of cracking, it was safe.
I walked the 200 metres between the two banks and was finally in Livani.
I stopped at a cafeteria, had a hit meal and coffee and continue my way. It was just after noon. I though I could make it directly to Preili, 26 km to go. And if tired I could stop on the way.
At 7PM I was arriving in Preili, totally exhausted. It was the longest walk made in the whole trip, 43km. So, I decided to find an hotel  and relax.

I have been help by a pretty young girls who take me to a charming hotel. She was going home after a course at the music school.
Coincidence or not, the owner of the hotel is also a photographer, Igor.
Igor runs this little charming place and has is photo shop inside the hotel on the first floor.
Here, they don't have ground floor, it is first, and our first floor is second for them, try to remember it when you will visit Latvia, it will avoid you to run from stairs to stairs.
Igor, along with two other photographer from the Latgale region, made a very beautiful book of photography about the region of Latvia.
Latvia has four regions. Latgale is located south east, with the Russian border on its east side and Belarus and its south side.
People speak mostly Russian, Latgalish, which is the local dialect, and Latvian.
But I must say that I met lots of people (age 40 to 80) who couldn't speak Latvian. You can link this to the discussion on the referendum about official languages.

Latgale also has particularity of having rolling countryside. Latvia is a rather flat country, just few meters above sea level. The highest point culminates at 311 meters.
In some places, it even made me think of the Reef valley in Morocco, dark brownish sand, high golden grass and scattered pine trees on desolated hill side.
Latgale is also proud of its own folklore, dances, songs and food and its own dialect of course.
I will tell you of this beautiful old woman I met there, who was only speaking Latgalish

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