Note: I apologize, but Vitauts plays a very small but fun role in this story. I’m publishing from the airport after a sleepless night, so if you see mistakes, let me know!
Celebrating my Citizenship
After I got back from Gita’s house, I called Ansis and arranged for him to come have one glass of champagne with us to celebrate my passport. He agreed and picked me up. We met Sue and Glen at the Flying Frog where they had just finished their appetizers and were getting their suppers. I had a strawberry margarita and a lime margarita for dinner with a beer for dessert. Ansis had one small glass of Italian sparkling wine, and I had one of those, too, so we could have a toast. The bar crawl had begun!
Final note about Ansis… he is a funny and wonderful person. His pride in Latvia is infectious. He was in a hurry because his oldest daughter was at home alone, and he had to pack to go to the big Latvian music festival, Postitivus where he would meet Monta to help her run her vendor tent for the costume shop. Ansis told us the story about his Latvian friend who lived in England and saw these big music festivals. Her dream was to bring something like that to Latvia. So she worked for years talking directly to musicians and promoters to get the concert off the ground. Ansis said she really struggled for the first three years, but now it’s a huge concert drawing over 30,000 attendees per day. That’s a huge attendance for a country with only 2 million people! Again, this idea of one woman with a dream making something happen was ringing in my mind.
He apologized and left while Glen and I had a heart to heart talk. Then the three of us checked out the snooty wine bar across the street. I had a raw salmon appetizer and Sue had the delicious rhubarb sorbet. But we could tell that Normunds, our waiter, didn’t want us there, and Glen probably insulted him by ordering beer at a wine shop, so we left after one drink.
Then we headed to Old Town to finish our bar crawl in style. We saw a bunch of Subaru WRX’s that were all parked by this blue church that just called to us. I chatted with the Subaru owners for a minute and lost Sue and Glen. Glen had been approached by the strange waiter at the castle restaurant that had a catfish special which looked like it was from another planet.
Meanwhile, I found a nice patio overlooking the Daugava River where we had beers, french fries, and Sue bought me a traditional shot of Black Balsam which I downed heartily. The only disappointment was that the menu said the fries came with gravy, but it was
really just ketchup. This makes me want to start a new career as a Latvian to English translator… not a translator, but more of an editor to take the translations that exist and make them sound like American English. I have a feeling most of the places are just going with Google and it doesn’t always work.
Our final stop was an outdoor patio with a live band. I bought their CD for 15 Euro, which seemed a bit steep, and we met a guy from Lebanon with his new Latvian love. The five of us huddled in the chilly Riga night under our big umbrellas as it started to rain. The music was fun because they played their own versions of American rock and roll classics. The man owned a business that specialized in renovating old buildings, so he was in the right place. We told him all about the opportunities that existed all over Latvia, and he seemed really excited. He called Riga and “undiscovered jewel,” and I couldn’t agree more!
Glen and I made the mistake of ordering absinthe for our final drink. It was green, and Sue said it was 70% alcohol. It tasted like poisonous licorice, but I sipped it down dutifully. We were celebrating, right?
I got a beer to go, and we stumbled home, laughing so hard that both Sue and I couldn’t stop. It was exactly the kind of night I hoped to have, and it wasn’t even midnight!
When we got back to the apartment, I turned the key, but we couldn’t get in. Dad had locked the door using the deadbolt which could only be opened from the inside. It was just like being in Omaha again except I had no garage code to get me in! Instead, I had to call Bruno (again) to save the day. His apartment was adjacent to ours with a special secret entrance. He opened the door for us, but it was clear that we woke him up. He chatted for a bit and then went to bed. Dad never woke up, and I don’t think he knew he locked us out, but we made sure to write him notes after that. “Dad, please don’t lock the door.”
To be continued…