Piektdiena: Krex, Brex, Fex!

Piektdiena: Krex, Brex, Fex!

Krex, Brex, Fex!

Friday, 4 August 2017


What a day! Sometimes these days seem to last and I do more than I ever thought possible… I am sitting in my lovely little cottage with wi-fi (story to follow) on a Friday drinking a Tērvete beer and getting ready to watch some Netflix before I finally fall asleep. I will wind down by writing because this calls to me.

Doesn’t this photo speak to you? Read on!





Today was Riga day with Monta and Ansis. We left early and ran a few errands including returning a bicycle to Darta’s friend in Ķekeva who had an angry barking dog! Then I was dropped off at the Latvian Immigration building near the big cemetery and a tram stop. “Go! Do!” I was told, as they sped off in their red minivan leaving me in the dust.





I walked in to the office, and was immediately confronted by a guard who spoke no English. It took only a few seconds for us to both realize I was in the wrong place. “Other door,” he pointed. He may have said something else, but I knew what he meant. The metal detectors were not for me. Thank goodness.

Once I was in the right place, the kind woman at the main desk took my paperwork and asked me the questions I knew she would ask. No one seems to believe that an American would be emigrating to Latvia (or is it immigrating? I don’t know), and they are all pleasantly surprised when I show them my passport proving that I am, indeed, a citizen! But they don’t know what to do with me. Ansis and I both believe that I am a rare species, and special care must be taken with this unicorn.

I was led to a chair in a hallway and told to sit and wait. The man in the office walked by and let someone else in as I sat, looking perhaps a bit glum. Then a kind blond woman led me to her desk, and with the help of her brunette interpreter, they asked me the same questions over and over. “Did you fill out the form?” She asked, holding the form in her hands. I pointed, “That is it!” She looked again. “Passport?” Of course! Surprised looks all around. The unicorn showed his horn! Then, I think as a joke, she said that I needed a photo to attach with my paperwork. We were in an office that prepares passports. There are several photo machines all around. But she told me that I needed to go somewhere else, get a photo, and bring it back. I felt like the knights in Monty Python in search of a shrubbery!

When I told Ansis over the phone, he was a bit angry at the whole thing… disbelief even. But I met Rita for coffee, and she found me a nearby photo shop that could get me a picture within 20 minutes.

Go Džefs!

Meanwhile, Monta and Ansis were at a meeting somewhere doing some business, and I wasn’t going to be able to find them, so I made the executive decision to hang out with Rita, do a bit of planning, and find my own way back to Sēlieši on my own! Go Džefs!

Rita wanted to show me where she bought her cool vintage bicycle; the place is VeloDepo (“Velosipēds” means “bicycle”). You walk in and there are just a crazy amount of cool old bikes at decent prices. I had no plans… but while at the shop, I kind of fell in love with this Koga touring bike with some updated pieces and parts. I didn’t think I was going to buy a bike today, but darn it… I was going to get one eventually, and when Rita said I could store it at her apartment, so I’d have a Riga bike… I was SOLD! The parts and pieces just look so nice. I bought an extra-heavy duty chain, so hopefully it won’t get stolen too soon.

New Bicycle!

Now on our bikes, we crossed Riga together. She showed me the camera shop, and then went her own way to run some errands. I had my photo taken, then (with help from Google maps) rode to the Immigration Office by the cemetery and tried to drop off the photos. Earlier, the nice woman said I could just drop them off at the front desk. But, of course, the wonderfully patient woman at the desk had no idea what I was talking about and told me to just go somewhere and talk to someone else. So, the unicorn stepped boldly into the office and went up to the desk where the kind blond woman once sat only to be told that she wasn’t there, that wasn’t her station, and no one even knew who she was. Weird? Yes. Unexpected? No. But, the lovely lady who seemed kind of busy but very curious about my situation made a phone call, wrote my name down, took the photos and said, “That is it!” Doubtful, I left. I’m sure they are all laughing about it over drinks tonight. Silly American!


I rode my bike back to meet Rita at the supermarket, Rimi, where we discussed how I would get back to Sēlieši, and we had a nice ride around the neighborhood. I can’t figure out why more Rigaonians… Rigans… Rigettes… Rigaers… whatever… don’t cycle more. The streets are flat, there are big sidewalks, it is easy to get lost… it is a perfect city for biking! We found a place to stow my bike, and then I took the trolleybus (big bus hooked up by electrical wires) to the Central Station, and took a little minibus, number 6779, back to Sēlieši. On my walk from the road to my house, I saw a lovely sunset. I tell you, Latvian skies are magic.

But that is not the only magic!

After I returned, and Ansis served a lovely meal of fish, potatoes, mushrooms and salad (with some wine for fun), Monta showed me videos of her trip to London. Apparently they like to ride bicycles in the nude there!

Ethernet… shiver…

Then, Ansis bought a few items for us to figure out. We had been trying to get the wifi to work in my cottage since I got here on Wednesday, but no luck. I have never really had to do anything with networking or ethernet cables before, so I was a bit in the dark. With some research and some intention to do no harm, I started splicing and dicing my share of RJ-45 connectors. I think I have something a little wrong with my brain when it comes to meticulous work—despite the fact that I was looking at photos and trying really hard, I put the wires in backwards at least twice. And my sloppy cutting and splicing efforts would make any hardened tech person cringe.


Ansis bought some new connectors and a real ethernet tester, so I could see what I was doing wrong. After a test, I started to carefully strip and prepare one more set of wires for crimping into a brand new RJ-45 plug. My hand was cramping, and if you know me, you know that I shake when I’m nervous. The wires were just over my head, so I had to hold them steady, shining a flashlight… stripping, collecting, clipping… trying to make sure that this time I would get it right. Luckily, Ansis showed up (scaring me half to death) and came to the rescue! I asked if he had steady hands, and he said, “Yes, but I am color blind.” Shit, I thought. So I carefully arranged the wires while he held them and clipped them and trimmed them and pressed them and perfectly, meticulously put them into the connector. I crimped it with the crimping tool, and the connection looked good! We tested it, and all but one set of wires was okay. We had one error, but it was better than anything that had happened before.

Now, all we needed to do was plug in the wifi router, and voila, I would have at least some internet. No. We waited, but the router was not sending a signal. Up to this point, the Bite router had worked flawlessly. Even without an internet connection, my phone and computer could find it as soon as it was plugged in. IT HAD NEVER BEEN THE PROBLEM… until now. Now that we finally had an ethernet connection, the wifi was failing us! Why? I don’t know. How, still can’t say. But Ansis insisted that we test it in the garage where he knew the internet worked.

So, we went in, and plugged it all in. Nothing. Nothing. Then he asked, “Do you know any magic words?” I said, “Abracadabra!” Still nothing. Then he said, “In Latvia we say Krex, Brex, Fex! Then we laugh!” And we both laughed. Then I practiced saying it a few times, and we laughed, and voila! The router lit up, the wifi signal came on, and it worked! What?!

Then we took our good fortune to my cottage, plugged everything in, said “Kres, Brex, Fex!” Laughed, and… wait for it… wait for it… the router lit up! Wifi came on! I tested with my phone and… WE HAVE INTERNET! WE HAVE INTERNET!!!!

So now, it is 11:11 p.m. in Riga, Latvia, and I’m writing this from the privacy of my cottage bedroom. For the first time, I’m coming to you live! We had a toast of Black Balsam to celebrate our victory over technology. What a day it has been! Immigration! Bicycle! Public Transportation! AND!!! TEAMWORK! Latvians and Americans can do amazing things together!

Final Note:

Key to my Castle

I ask you… this cottage needs a name. The big house and property are called “Sēlieši” and Ansis said it is named after one of the tribes of Latvia, the Selonians. So what can my little place be? I can make a little sign and put it outside.






the internet is still not perfect. I get disconnected now and again, but it is better than nothing! I still say Ansis and Jeff 1, the forces of evil 0.

Photos (Including the Grave of one Janis Grinbergs!)

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