So Many Relatives, So Little TimeJune, 1999 — Our Latvian Honeymoon

Ready to be whisked away to married life!Certainly, neither of us would have suspected even two or three years ago that either of us would be returning to Latvia, married to, of all things, a fellow Latvian.

We'd been in Latvia at the same time before, overlapping vacations, but it wasn't the same as really traveling together. The only mistake we made was that, as most newlyweds, we did miscalculate a bit on our first joined-at-the-hip trip. If Silvija's relatives take her a week and a half for her to visit, and mine take me a week and a half, at least, then, a week and a half would not be enough for both of us together! We didn't think of that, so our vacation was full of lots of running around and no sight-seeing this time, not even a day to wander around Vecriga!

Of course, we still did manage to take pictures, a (scant for us!) nine rolls of film, of family, of friends, and of places close to our hearts.

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Life on Zaubes Iela - click for more!

Our home base was an apartment on Zaubes Iela, not far from the center, but certainly a bit of a hike in the hot weather we seemed to have brought with us! We were dying the day we walked to the Universalveikals (Department Store) in Vecriga (Old Riga) to buy fans!

Visiting Koknese - click for more!

We spent one day traveling out to Koknese, east of Riga along the Daugava, where Silvija's dad grew up. And yes, the heat was more unbearable than ever! We did find a great little restaurant to stop at for food and cold beer to revive us! Peters, our designated driver, had to be content with sipping a tasty but non-alcoholic Multi juice.

Out in the countryside, in Mordanga - click for more!

For Peters, every trip includes a visit to Mordanga, where his mom grew up, where the memories of his family are still centered. It was a bit odd, not visiting with his mom, who was still back home recovering from her last trip. This time, he visited with just his cousin, Gaida. (Silvija stayed home to keep her dad out of trouble!) Their first stop? One of the local greenhouses to pick up a trunk full of flowers. Gaida planted while Peters measured broken windows. Sadly, no one seems to have time to look after the old mill house; yet, at least during this visit, there were some unmistakable signs of progress as well!

Birthday Party - click for more!

Among the highlights of our trip was Silvija's goddaughter's (and cousin Anda's daughter!), Kristine's, birthday. Some things, we found, have universal appeal, regardless of language or culture. Both children and adults were quite taken by... the Furby! It's not exactly as traditional as a drop spindle, but it is one of the more unique ways of learning English! Then there is the problem of how, exactly, to tell the Furbish apart from the English if you don't speak either! Ooops!

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Proving you can kill two birds with one stone, we (Silvija, Peters, Silvija's sister Inara, and family friend Janis) headed out for Kandava, in Kurzeme, to visit one of Silvija's mom's school friends originally from Liepaja. And then, on to Kuldiga, Peters' father's home town to drop off some plans he and his mom found to family property. It's been slow going, but then patience is something one learns quickly in navigating the administrative corridors. Nothing happens quickly, and everything requires personal attention.

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We also stopped by Vecaki, in the suburbs on the Riga Gulf coast, to say hello to Peters' cousin Gaida, her two sons Arno and Maris, and their families, as well as the eldest matriarch of the family, Peters' uncle's Oswald's wife Erna, who celebrates her 96th (!) birthday this year. Sadly, we also got the news while we were visiting that their next door neighbor, Olga, also a relative, passed away suddenly. She had sold the land their house was on to Peters' cousin Vija (Gaida's sister) when they needed a place to build a house after returning from Siberia. A reminder to spend our days wisely and well.

Click here for Alus Seta and Riga!

It's not quite true that we didn't get out at all. We did make it to the casino a couple of times. Souvenir shopping was more a chore than entertainment because of the heat. But, we still managed to see at least one new interesting sight. And we also made it to the Alus Seta restaurant in Vecriga for a filling meal and good conversation.

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It's not easy keeping up with two sets of relatives! Two visits Peters absolutely had to make were, first, to his mother's cousin Arturs, who lives with his wife Lena in the Vidzeme countryside, in Alsviki, just southwest of Aluksne. That's all the way up by the Estonian and Russian borders. The visit also included stopping in at the Aluksne cemetary to pay respects to Arturs' mother, Minna, who, like our parents, had escaped to America and had been like Peters' grandmother to him. The other—and more important, if it's at all possible to rank these sorts of things!—was to check in on Peters' aunt Laura, who's house sitting for Gaida in the Bolderaja suburb while Gaida's back in Vecaki and Arno and Ester (and Bruss) are also in Vecaki for the summer. We made it to Laura's the last night we were there, things were so hectic!

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