18 Oct 2007

Relatively random rooftops in rainy Riga

Posted by walterheck

When I woke up at 7 the next day I could hear the rain pouring on the rooftop of the hostel. I decided that was a good reason to go back to sleep and sleep as long as possible before getting out of the room (checkout was at noon). I slept and watched TV shows until 11:30, when it really started to be time to get up 🙂

I got up and took a shower, but when I got out of the shower I strained my back badly. This was not very good to say the least 🙁 With a painful back I packed my bag and ooh-ing and ah-ing I went downstairs. At the front desk I saw that the internet computer was free and since I was hurting so much I couldn’t walk far anyway, so I decided to sit down and check my e-mail.

Much to my surprise I found a host, Lauris, willing to host me for my remaining time in Riga! I sent him a message saying that I would wait for him at 14:00 at the ground floor restaurant of the department store next to central station. I couldn’t actually wait for an answer since someone else wanted to use the computer. Now there was only one problem: I actually had to walk there with a 20Kg backpack!

I walked there really slowly and it was extremely painful. I sat down and bought some breakfast and a magazine to kill the time as it was only 13:00 and this was not a place I felt secure taking the laptop out (besides the fact that that was physically impossible 🙂 ). When Lauris arrived at 14:00 he was like a whirlwind: talking and talking, asking questions, telling me all kinds of things, talking travel stories and asking for some in return. I told him about my back but he had apparently forgotten after 5 minutes which forced me to keep up with him almost running through the city. I guess it was good for me because it made me forget about my back and it actually hurt a bit less.

We walked for 20 minutes to his house which was an old sovjet-style apartment building. The apartment he and his friends were living in had no hot water, no shower and central heating hadn’t been turned on yet. He and his friends were extremely friendly though, so I immediately felt very comfortable. One thing that bothered me were my own thoughts: elitist westernized thoughts kept shooting through my mind, thoughts that I didn’t want to have and was actually ashamed of thinking. Actually this was food for more thought about my own thoughts :).

Lauris and his friends are freegans, which means that basically they live as cheap as possible enjoying everything free in this world: dumpster diving, hitchhiking etc. Luckily for me this was not my first encounter to this lifestyle, so it was easier to get used to. It is actually a lifestyle that I could see myself doing if I wasn’t so damn brainwashed by western societies 🙂

Lauris had to deliver some posters for an upcoming event to the hostel he worked for (not the one I was staying in 🙂 ), so we decided to go there by bike. Yippiee, I hadn’t been riding a bicycle since I left Holland and it felt very good, even despite the fact that the thing had no breaks, my back was still hurting and riding a bike in Riga is a ‘bit’ more dangerous than in Holland :). We were driving fast through the streets of Riga, delivering the posters to the hostel. Then I was hungry and Lauris took me to a place to eat. Some nice domestic food and I treated him to some of it. An example of Freegan lifestyle: when we sat down, he walked over to the next table and took the leftovers from that table. Something that when you think of it, is not strange at all. We saw the people leave and their food was as good as fresh. Still, in western society this is completely not done for reasons unknown to me. Anyway, I didn’t mind at all and it just meant we had a little more food 🙂

After dinner we went to the top floor of one of the highest hotels in the city to enjoy the view. We were up there for half an hour just enjoying the view and talking. Then we had to get back down as our bicycles were locked but unattended. Lauris decided we would visit a friend’s house toi climb her rooftop and see what they were up to. We went there, made tea and climbed up to the rooftop. It was beautiful, as most rooftops have just about the same height you can see quite far in every direction. We watched a beautiful sunset and when it started raining and we got cold we went back down.

We took a quick bicycle ride to an area in the harbor where there was a cultural area that was used by the young people of Riga for all kinds of cultural events. Lauris told me about a film festival that would take place here the next day and kind of convinced me to stay for the weekend to go there. Anyway, the area was really nice, almost like a squat except for the fact that it was legal.

We drove back home to cook dinner as we had most of the pots and pans with us that Lauris had taken to his friends’ apartment a few days earlier for a big picknick there. Before we could cook dinner we had to go shopping first. We went to buy some food and when we came back, I helped preparing dinner. Everyone in the house was vegetarian but I don’t mind as long as it’s only for a couple of days 😉

We all ate together: the guys living there and all guests, it was really nice. After dinner two of Lauris’ friends came over and we looked at the pictures of my travels up to then and I told some of my travel stories. After that we watched a few episodes of Green Wing, another British comedy show that I had never heard of but it is pretty funny actually. After that it was late already and we fell asleep. One of the girls stayed over as well.

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One Response to “Relatively random rooftops in rainy Riga”

  1. He,

    Mooi dat je kennis maakt met een andere manier van leven. Het klinkt bijna een beetje hippieachtig. Wat ik me wel afvraag is of de leefstijl van je hosts echt een echte idealistische keuze is? Maar in ieder geval een prachtig concept. Ik zal Roel er eens over vertellen, misschien besluit hij wel ter plekke om naar Letland af te reizen.