Abragciems is a tiny Latvian village on the coast of the Gulf of Riga which is part of the Baltic Sea. Many Latvians have summer homes across the coast. They finish work for the week, and then drive to their cottage on the seaside. Bruno and Maruta have just such a cottage, but it is absolutely stunning.
Vitauts and I arrived first, and I was just amazed at how this house is literally 100 feet from the water. I thought they were exaggerating when they told me how close it was. I could see the swans and sea birds flying from the driveway with the waves gently lapping the white-sand shore line. Heavenly.
Susan and Glen arrived a little later and Ansis brought gifts with him including an assortment of beer and a pile of various freshly smoked fish. Glen doesn’t eat fish, but he took one for the team and sat and ate with us. I loved all of them, except for the bones that got stuck in my throat, but that was my fault for eating too fast. Again, fair warning, this is what Latvians do to you… you go to their house, and they put out a pile of food for you to eat… then they say, “And now we will have supper,” where you are expected to eat an entire meal on top of everything you just gorged on. Not only that, all the meals take hours to prepare and include elaborate table settings, so you feel guilty enough that you will eat everything they offer even if your stomach argues or complains. This is just something you have to get used to in Latvia.
Sure enough, after we had our fish and beer and conversation, Maruta called us inside to sit down to this incredible meal she prepared. The highlight for me was the fresh baked fish that their neighbor, a 95 year-old former sea captain had caught the day before. Where else can you go for such fresh food?
Vitauts enjoyed every bite and every drink of beer, but it was a long and exhausting day. After supper, he decided to stay and relax while Sue, Glen and I walked on the beach for awhile.
We collected rocks and took some photographs. We discussed buying our own piece of land to build a house on. We also walked through Maruta’s beautiful garden stealing some of the most sumptuous peas and berries as we went. I hope she doesn’t mind. What a lovely way to spend a weekend!
Bruno told us this story about the three houses on the property. Sue pointed out what a good metaphor these houses were for communism. Originally, Bruno purchased the land with a relative and they were renovating the original old house together (the white one). However, in communist Latvia, you could not hire workers to do jobs for you, so you had to do all the labor yourself. This lead to some disagreements and eventually a falling out that left their first project unfinished. Bruno then finished his house beautifully and his relative finished his after they divided the land (on the left). Score one for private property and being able to hire workers!
After a long day we all watched the first half of the European soccer championship. Renaldo was injured right away, and I was falling asleep in my chair. We said goodnight or Ar labunakti, and that was it.
Our plan in the morning was to go with Ansis to Jurmula and back to Riga.
To be continued….