Thursday: The Final Day

Thursday: The Final Day

Salaspils on Thursday

January 5, 2017

Bruno set up a plan to come pick me up on Thursday morning, 11 a.m., and then take me back to Riga. There, I would spend the night at his flat, and we would drive to the airport together on Friday morning. 

Again, I didn’t really sleep on Wednesday night or Thursday morning, but I awoke to a beautiful sunrise, the last one from Ansis’ house, and I just couldn’t go back to sleep. I had to stay up to watch the burst of color on the horizon light up the snow-covered earth. Well worth losing sleep to see that.

Garage Door vs. Sniegs

My mission was to pack all of my stuff and clean up everything so the house would look very similar to the way it was when Ansis and Monta left nine days prior. I also had to shovel the driveway a bit to get the garage doors open, for they swing open, and with snow on the pavement, the doors get stuck.

Bruno told me where to find a shovel, so I bundled up and did the chore of shoveling as much as I could. There wasn’t that much actual snow, but overnight it had drifted pretty well, and was about a foot deep or more in places. I think Ansis’ driveway is about two miles long, so I wasn’t going to completely clear it off, but I wanted to make sure that the CRV could get out, and Bruno could get the BMW back into the garage.

Goodbye to Bunny an Fish

I also went up to the main gate to make sure it opened, and took the big trashcan back down to the garage. Everything was working well. I made sure the bunny had food, and the fish had water. I started writing a blog post and drinking espresso waiting for Ansis to arrive.

As usual, he was right on time, and after negotiating the transfer of everything, we were on our way to Riga. We had a nice conversation about the impatience of Latvian drivers. He said that something happens to people when they get behind the wheel. “You see them on the street, and you think, this is a nice person. But they get in the car, and what happens?” Bruno actually suggested that American drivers are much more hospitable than Latvians. I guess it is something nice to say about us. Most of us are pretty polite, and while there are some people who are in a hurry, it’s not every driver who is aggressively honking and passing for no reason. “To what?” Bruno asked, “to be five more seconds early?” He is wise.

On the Drive to Riga

The temperature had dropped quite a bit. When I was shoveling the snow, I didn’t notice it that much, but once we got to Riga, near the river, the wind picked up, and it was just bitter. I had a couple of goals, to say goodbye to Riga, get my beard professionally trimmed by a barber, and to see the opera.

A friend had a ticket she couldn’t use because she got sick, so she offered it to me. What a way to spend my last night in Latvia, the classic National Opera House! The production was Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, which is funny because it’s a joke from the classic cartoon, Tick. I didn’t know anything about the story, so I was kind of excited to see the show.

I decided that since I didn’t have to drive, I was going to have a few drinks, and wander around until my beard appointment at 4:15, the ticket exchange at 5:00, and the opera at 7.

Beer House

I started at the Beer House again, and this time it was another new bartender. I don’t remember his name. I had a hard cider called Kiss, but I wasn’t feeling the love, so I decided to try some other place. I bought a nice pair of Latvian gloves at the Christmas market and then walked to the Moonshine bar.

Moonshine

We had seen this Latvian rockabilly blues place during the summer, but Sue didn’t want to go because it is a silly Americana restaurant. I just had to see the inside. Elvis on one bathroom wall, Monroe on the other. License plates, two cars sticking out of the walls, and terrible American music playing over the speakers. That’s Moonshine! Luckily, the bartender was interesting and fun to talk

Urinal at Moonshine

to. I had a Riga Coffee with Black Balsam (9.50 euro?!), a beer, and some really awful onion rings. I kind of expected that they might actually make the onions themselves, but these were straight out of Burger King. And the urinal? Priceless.

New Beard

By the time I finished, it was time for the beard trimming. I originally wanted to get my head professionally shaved, just to see what that would be like, but they said it would take over an hour, and I didn’t have that kind of time. So the wonderful barber from Tukus, trimmed and conditioned my beard while explaining why she liked to do men’s hair more than women’s.

Next up, my review of the Opera.

Total Bad Ass

But first, as one postscript, I just have to pay some kind to duty to this guy. He must be in his 70s if not 80s. He was shoveling Bruno’s parking lot and sidewalk in the bitter cold. Just going at it. There is no “quit” in the Latvian language. I don’t know that for a fact, but damn, he is a total Bad Ass. Original.

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