If you have been once in Finlnad you may also know the song “Olen Suomalainen”?
(Well, if you don´t know the song listen it below!)
It’s a kind of Finnish unofficial anthem, but somehow regarded more proudly than the official one.
If you translate the song, then you see how Finnish people is strong, determined, and resilient.
Well, I don’t doubt they are, but…
…what’s happening with all that strength when it’s about cycling?
Why nobody in Helsinki is able to pedal if is not summer time?
It seems that both institutions and citizens forget about the magic two-wheeled machine most of the year, when is not too warm.
Finland, the country that had been described as the happiest land, with the strongest folk, becames a desert of snow and lazy people in the winter, where cyclists have no rights, the bike lanes are left totally abbandoned. This is true at least for Helsinki.
Is it impossibile to cycle in the winter in Finland?
No. It’s actually easier than using a car, walking or even taking a bus.
BIKE VS CAR
If you use a bicycle, you don´t have to remove huge amounts of snow from it, as it happens with cars; you don´t have to warm up the engine, you don´t have to defrost the windows, you don´t have to worry for parking space under snow.
BIKE VS WALKING
If you have the right tires on your bike—and there is an actual acceptable bike lane—it may be less slipery than walking. You would warm up yourself cycling. And, if you don´t want to risk to sweat, you could get an electric bicycle.
BIKE VS PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
With the bicycle you don´t have to freeze at the bus stop waiting for the bus, when you don´t move, you feel the cold even more and the time passes more slowly.
If you have the right bicycle, you may be even faster than a bus and could get straight from point A to B.
These above are just my simple considerations. These are some comparations that come straight to my mind, without even doing too much research about the topic.
However, if you do want to do a research about how easy is to cycle in the winter (with the right gear and the right biycle), just do it! I am sure that you will find more reasons why to use a bicycle in the winter.
I really can´t hope anything else than a wake up in Helsinki´s institution and residents. Let´s have a look at the cool–not too far–neighour Denmark: Copenhagen.
Cyprus is not reachable by using a bicycle only, so I needed other transportations means to get there, but once arrived, I did a tour of the island on the bicycle together with two unexpected cyclo-friends.
While you travel in exotic countries, often will happen of course, to not understand people talking in foreign languages. This is actually one of the reasons why I love traveling. Being somewhere without understanding people talking, is a bit like walking with closed eyes, I can feel more connection with the earth.
In Cyprus I notice how paradoxical and contradictory our ‘civilization’ is
Police, which should protect the weaker often bites them up. Hospitals, which should heal us and improve our health, sometimes (often?), transmit us sicknesses and make us pay for services and medicines we no need. Governments, which have the duty to organize and legislate for the benefit of the public, regularly do the interest of private, powerful, individuals.
As final mockery, western cultures, which are based on the above-mentioned institutions, call “wild and uncivilized” population as native Americans that have much fairer, and nature-friendly, regulations.
UNDERSTANDING AND RESPECTING WHAT IS DIFFERENT
The most people I meet think either I am a poor guy or I am really rich to afford such a long travel. For the most people is hard to realize that with little money you can travel all the world.
On the other hand, thinking about my extravagant Cypriot landlord and my wild father makes me reflect on the following:
There are things, or persons, that we will never understand. There are behaviors that we will always find weird and we will never be able to give an explanation for. This does not mean that we have to fight against it or judge these persons as wrong. We should still respect such things and give everyone his right to be different.
People doing wrong things are really useful to us, they show us how not to behave.
The main reason why we do certain things or we take a particular decision is not because it is right or we believe in it, but mostly because we are used to act in a certain way, or cause the most people do it.
The hardest in life is to do what we like. We need to have the courage to do what we like.
CARNIVAL IN LIMASSOL
In Limassol’s carnival, there was no rubbish on the streets, it was all quite clean and tidy, on the other hand, I remember that in Northen ‘clean’ counties, during carnival, the streets were full of the most diverse items. It seems a paradox; Carnival in Nordic, well organized, wealthy countries is much more liberating and wild than in southern nations.
With carnival everything changes, the most people take advantage of this event to do what is not allowed otherwise.
THE ISLAND OF CATS
Cyprus is artificially filled up with cats, this to keep snakes away, not exactly for safety, because snakes don’t kill normally, but for touristic reasons, to not let the tourists be afraid of them.
Here, people ask me about pets, I have just formulated an answer to the question: “do you like pets?”—My answer is—“as I try to not discriminate humans, I don’t want to discriminate animals based on race either.”
Humans try all the time to train pets to make them behave like us, actually, I think it would be more useful if WE would learn from them; wild animals, for example, can help us to understand how to survive.
AFTER A FIGHT WITH EIGHT PERSONS
On a windy night, I had a discussion with some people that ended up with little blood.
The day after the fight, I went to the hospital to check the stitches on my face. At the surgery department, I see a long ‘zig-zag’ queue; people are constantly skipping it by just running to the first place, I try to talk to them telling that this is not correct while an English man tells me: “here is always the same, Cypriot people don’t respect lines and you have to fight to get people not to skip”—I thought—“oh, no! fighting again…”
Now I know where South Italians got the habit of not respecting queue.
“I prefer not to use cars because they kill.”—If I may say this statement in Cyprus, people would not understand it—Jeeps are everywhere, it seems like there is a permanent rally competition going on.
The stairs of the hospital in Paphos were empty, the elevators were full and medical departments filled up with people in line. Same for the city: sidewalks are empty, while the streets are full of cars and people walks solely in shopping centers, in chaotic lines.
Sun & sea? Smoke & Internet monopoly!
What’s to find in Cyprus? Sun and sea of course, but also: people smoking indoors everywhere, the worst Internet connection, a huge amount of Shops of bodybuilding, Sports bets venues, Car rental—also everywhere! Wealth show off is rampant too.
The difference between a person with a lot of money and someone with less wealth is that the first, most probably, can’t live without money, the latter can live both with or without money.
THE GOOD OF CYPRUS – English and no criminality
I was surprised to notice that everyone speaks English in this tiny island, even older people. The most of them quite good.
There is a significant British presence in Cyprus, for sure in Paphos. The reasons is that British were ruling here for a while. Now you find principally pensioners, but they are into interesting activities: second-hand shops, Theater workshops, cultural events, and related. It looks like that the British don’t really mix with locals, you can easily see restaurants stating in big letters outside: “real English breakfast, English television…”
While speaking with some English persons, they “confessed” me they think that local people don’t speak proper English, I immediately thought: “let’s hope they don’t go to Italy!”.
One of the warmest people I met in Cyprus was a Syrian family, I felt more welcome there than at my own place. They are really my brother’s and sisters.
I had just a few connections with Cypriots, in Limassol, through CouchSurfing, I got to know some beautiful human beings.
A really good thing that happened here is that I’ve met other globe cyclers, one of them is Jacques. But this has little to do with the characteristics of the island.
Another positive point is that there is nearly no criminality, it seems to be one of the ‘safest’ places on earth—if you exclude traffic dangers.—
People in Paphos speaks like Sicilians, or maybe Sicilians speak like “Paphonian”. The latter, I would guess.
THE BAD – “Car culture, shopping, and smoke: everywhere in the air.”
The mentality is extremely conservative in Cyprus, if locals see a girl speaking with strangers in the street she may not get married, for real!
They are selling land, houses, and any kind of building to foreigners, which is not a bad thing itself; the sad thing is that together with propriety sale, they are selling their soul, their culture. Giving to big real estate companies (called ‘developers’) the right of doing whatever they want with the land, even building, on the beach, cement shit monstrosity for stupid tourists.
People don’t walk in Cyprus, they all use cars. The bigger the car is (mostly SUV’s or jeeps) the higher is the status of the transported people.
Locals don’t enjoy simple things, they find it boring to breath clean air, and instead, they breathe smoke, they find it not fun to drink water, and instead, they drink crappy Coca-Cola. But they don’t find it boring to do every day the same: going to the office, watching TV, and gossiping trying to live other’s life.
Corruption, at high levels, is really common and accepted.
CAFE’s in Paphos
Unfortunately, the EU non-smoking law is not enforced in Cyprus, it means that wherever you go, you will get quite smoked, not sure a salmon would be any jealous.
My favorite places:
Vintage art bar, sometimes they don’t smoke in one of the rooms
Ananas 8Bit Coffee
Finally, I did manage to find some non-Smoking places:
In the Northern European countries, I find all that I was fighting for when I was in Southern Europe.
Here I am so happy that I feel a bit like a “looser”, I have the sensation that by being in this place, getting all the benefits of locals whom actually won those battles which I just left at midway, it’s a kind of easy escape for me.
Of course there are things here to improve too, still, the institutions are honest and trustworthy.
But from the other hand, I feel that by spending so much of my life at these latitudes, I am linked to the lands and people, which is so far and different from where I was born, aware of belonging much more here than anywhere else.
Copenhagen – Malmø
United but divided.
Sweden and Denmark spent big efforts to build the Øresund bridge, to create a metropolitan area that would be extended from Copenhagen to Malmo.
It happened that Sweden claimed to host much more refugees than Denmark and decided to have a border control between the bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo.
The most worrying and upsetting thing is that in Copenhagen the control personnel, before boarding the train to Malmo, takes a picture of your ID without even telling you anything about it.
That’s a big abuse against privacy. Not even in intercontinental border controls they take pictures of documents without a specific reason or without communicating it in advance.
Business, but social.
København: “trading-harbour”, this is the translation of the name of the most continental capital of Scandinavia.
Even though we could easily say that Copenhagen is the capital of trading, business, design, and development, at the same time there is such a big social and human oriented movement, a real avant-garde, that you feel at home, no matter where you come from, or at least I speak for myself.
I feel warm, with like minded people and in a welcoming environment, even if I always disliked business and trade… but here commerce, it’s fair. At any rate fairer than anywhere else.
The first aspect that many companies and startups often take into account, in Copenhagen, it’s the social and environmental commitment.
POLITICS IN DENMARK, WHY IS IT SO SUCCESSFUL?
Because political issues are made easy to understand by politicians.
Because everyone participates to political topics in the ordinary day life.
Because people gets involved and loves to share their thoughts in a constructive way.
LIBRARIES vs SHOPPING CENTERS
You can judge the quality of the administration of a country not just from the welfare measures, but from his libraries too.
In many countries there is this habit of hanging out in shopping centers, wasting time, money, brain, products and polluting.
Here libraries are a richer, more enjoyable place to be.
ART vs TECH PEOPLE
We are keen to think that creative people is fun and laugh all the time while persons in science and religion are always serious and sad. Actually, often the opposite happens. People that does ‘serious’ jobs are quite open to jokes and fun, maybe especially because they want to get out their serious environment.
PUBLIC BIKES SHORT PERIOD RENTAL TOO EXPENSIVE
Public Bike sharing is something that should be tourist friendly–they are the ones that need a bike for short and don’t want to buy one–.
The average tourist stays in Copenhagen for two/three days, paying 25kr/hour is really expensive, it’s equal to about 3,5 euros.
The monthly subscription is quite interesting: 70kr/month and the first half hour is free.
You should make the one-day subscription for maximum 10kr a day and weekly 30kr without having to pay extra if you use the bike for less than 30 minutes each time.
In Paris, Seville, London, and many other cities you pay about two euros/day with the first 30 min free.
Impressive, but I can still list stuff to improve:
– Narrow bike lanes
– Bus stops on the bike lanes
– Cars going on the bicycle Lane to turn right
– Too long waiting for traffic lights
– Not all the city is cyclable Yes, I lived nearby Holland.
LIVING IN CHRISTIANIA
Hunting for accommodation in Copenhagen is quite a mission impossible.
After long hours of online research and many emails, I find something, in Christiania!
It’s a big room in a factory building which has been transformed into an apartment. It’s a historical, cultural, living example of Copenhagen Lifestyle and changing urbanisation habits.
The same happens to many buildings in Christiania years ago, when a bunch of artistic, creative, good-hearted, revolutionary people, started to occupy buildings, creating the current “free-town”.
It’s typical for many alternative areas of Copenhagen, I have been lucky to have a true feeling of Christiania-like accommodation.
ONE HOUSE, TWO HOUSES, THREE HOUSES
Most accommodations in Copenhagen are like this: Plants, white framed windows, white furniture as bee’s nest. In every house.
ANIMAL’S RIGHTS AND SOCIAL
Animals rights and human rights are strongly linked, not just because we as human are ‘social animals’ with the same needs of animals, but also cause you can evaluate the quality of a government by the animal welfare. I am not surprised to see that in Denmark, regardless a quite carnist society, there is strong fermentation for animal rights.
PEOPLE’S KITCHEN COPENHAGEN
Free collaborative dinner, organized by no profit associations of volunteers
MONDAYS 18:30 – Folkets Hus, Outdoors (Vegetarian)
Stengade 50, 2200 Kbh. NV.
“There is a box for donations, the proposal is 20 kr. You eat outside, so wear clothes on cold months. The food is rarely dumpster-dived. Vegetarian.
Ragnhildgade 1, 2100 Copenhagen
Is an asylum and refugee political café with hosted in The Candy Factory.
18:00 – Kraftwerkts Folgekokken
Valgårdsvej 2, 2500 Valby (Right next to Toftegårds Plads).
“Bus 4a and 1a run straight to the door, and otherwise, it takes about 5 min to walk from Valby station. Would you like to help plan and cook the kitchen? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
19:00 – Kafa-X
Korsgade 19, kælderen, 2200 Kbh. N.
“20 kr. Come at 16:00 and help with the food and get a free meal. You can also take the dishes out. The food does not come from the trash, but they get discarded vegetables from the greengrocer. Vegan.”
Blågårds Plads 3, 2200 Nørrebro – tlf.: 35 35 77 70.25
“25 kr. For vegetarian. I do not know if it’s vegan-friendly option.”
19:00 – Café Bumzen
Baldersgade 20-22, 2200 Kbh. N.
“There is no payment required, but the payment proposal is 20 kr. They also want a hand with the food. It may well be cold in there, take an extra shirt or two in the winter months! Some of the food is dumpsterdived. Vegan.”
THURSDAYS 19:00 – Ungeren
Dortheavej 61, 2400 Kbh. NV.
“Go at 15:00 and help if you want to have a free meal. Otherwise about 20 kr. (Sometimes 25 kr.) The most luxurious folk kitchen in Copenhagen. Sign up for Dortheave’s Folkekoek on Facebook and get to know the menu in advance. The ingridients are not from dumpsters. Sometimes you can buy a cake for dessert. Vegan.”
19:00 – Christiania, by Loppe-bygningen (there is a sign)
“20 kr / wash the dishes after eating and you can freely make use of the remaining bread. Vegetarian, but vegans are taken into account.”
FRIDAY 18:30 – Cafe N,
Blågårdsgade 17, 2200 København N.
“25 kr. Non dumpsterdived food. Vegan.”
SATURDAY 12:00-16:00 – Foodsharing Copenhagen (indoors)
Grønttorvet 64, 2500 København
“Check the calendar on facebook to be sure of the date/time. Foodsharing Copenhagen invites you once again to share rescued / donated food in a fair matter! You are invited to come by between 12pm and 4pm and pick up food for yourself, your friends, neighbors and family! It is getting cold outside, therefore we are moving inside for this special event and next to our regular food distribution, we want you to have a good time as well, so feel free to stay for some hot drinks and a hyggeligt atmosphere. =) PLEASE BRING also the food that you would throw away at home to prevent your own food waste!”
SUNDAY 12:00 – Folkets Hus, Stengade 50, 2200 Kbh. N. “Brunch! 25 kr. Check the website for dates. Vegetarian but with a fair vegan selection. The ingredients for the food can be from the bins.”
14:00 – Kageorgie (First Sunday of every month)
Ungeren, Dortheavej 61, 2400 Kbh. NV.,
“Donation Based. I was there the first time they made it and it was insane! There were so many cakes! Sumptuous. Vegan.”
Being like a Caribbean for a month: Dream or Nightmare?
For Mr. Donald Trump it may be a fairy tale, surrounded by women, luxurious yachts and servants.
What if I tell you: “I am living like someone from the Dominican Republic”?
Would you consider me a poor or a rich person?
The answer is in the question, which means that I am either poor or rich, there is not much between.
Extreme poverty is rampant in the most of south-central America. Meaning that people have no home, not enough money for food, water or health.
Still, you see plenty of extremely expensive cars and posh people living in their luxurious villas with the very poor just few hundred meters away.
This is what will become of US if Trump is elected.
Colonialism, Christianity, Capitalism and Corruption, the poisoning cocktail with the four “C”; this is the busine$$ plan of Donald Trump.
Walking around many south American countries, you can’t miss men, of all ages, playing domino with a table right in the middle of the street, big cucarachas on the sidewalk, kind street vendors that sell anything, poverty: the result of political corruption, coming out here and then with the shape of a human being.
There is no balance, here you have to pray god (the most people is strongly Christian) to not get sick, because if you do, you will need a lot of money to cure yourself in a private clinic.
Cars drive like there is no tomorrow, it’s not hard to get hit by a car, and if you are poor, you would be without a leg, in the street, for the rest of your life. With no social support from the institutions.Begging money to buy food.
Food in the supermarket is more expensive than in Europe or the US, in some cases is the double.
A piece of bread may cost two dollars, but the most of the people earn 150 $ per month, ten times less than in the USA, that’s equal of 1/20 buying power difference, in a place where institutions help the rich and nearly nothing is public or free: Hospitals, Universities, Social Care, they are made just for the rich.
I test on myself how it feels like to live with 150 dollars per month in the Dominican Republic, because this is the salary the lower class gets, including public officers.
It’s hard, complicated and frustrating, I don’t even count in the 150$ the accommodation, cause I already arranged it outside that budget.
It’s actually harder to live here with this average ´salary’ than in Europe or the US with no salary.
The Ass, the only thing Trump is not racist with.
The most ironic thing is, that in the Dominican Republic, I start to feel the need of money, food, and services. While for the public opinion ,this place is supposed to be cheap and affordable.
The most ironic thing is, that in the Dominican Republic, I start to feel the need of money, food, and services. While for the public opinion ,this place is supposed to be cheap and affordable.
I have done one week of “technical fasting”, which I also did to keep my expenses low but I need even to do a second “technical fasting”, because of my budget.
Even more ironically, during my fasting, while taking a course to improve my Spanish skills, I get to the ‘food and eating’ chapter of my study course, which is not helping my hunger.
This country has been the toughest one to live as a freegan. Even for me, born in a big south Italian family, where the fridge was often empty because of the bad financial’s administration of my father. But being in such a situation with a whole family is different than being alone, it could be both better or worse.
I often have the wish to give small amounts of money to the ones in need that I punctually meet in the street, sometimes I do it, but doing it means having less to eat myself, cause my budget allows me barely to have enough to buy my own food and water.
This is actually a good training to understand what sharing means, it means to give what you have, even if you then have less for yourself. The privation of what you don’t necessarily need.
When I go to the market, doing some bargain, sellers ask me where I am from, I answer saying I am partially Dominican partially North African (which is not completely a lie), at this point they look at me with open wide eyes and give me the lowest price.
POLITICIANS IN SANTO DOMINGO
Politics affiches are everywhere to see, I even saw an ambulance doing political propaganda with stickers of a certain party. They have great political speakers here; this is the best they can do: to speak.
How can those politicians allow higher classes to thrive while there are kids, young boys, in the street asking for FOOD? Not even money, they simply ask for food and they are skinny, the most of them clean shoes in order to get few cents, which are never enough to buy a meal.
While walking along the beach I see one of them asking some people a bit of food, those persons had plenty, but they were not really keen to give him much.
While walking along the beach I see one of them asking some people a bit of food, those persons had plenty, but they were not really keen to give him much.
In this country, you don’t have drinkable water in the tap, neither you have fountains to drink, to get drinkable water you have to pay for it.
At home–for those who have one–you don’t even have a centralized water system, but a truck has to come and refill the tanks of those who can afford to have water, non-drinkable of course.
Many people drink non-clean water just because they can’t pay to buy it.
I am saving even drops of water because otherwise, I am not able to get within my budget.
I have witnessed people refilling their bottles from the rich one´s garden, risking to get diseases just to drink any water. To survive.
Many good political speakers talk to people in squares to convince them to vote for their party. I have to admit, they are quite attractive, as speakers. But not as men: the people does not really love to get involved in politics, they are disinterested in the topic, because “politicians are all the same” they say.
I would say that politics it’s like getting building works at home : if you are are not participating in the process or not pay attention, the professionals may mess up things quite a bit.
There is a mosquitos-diseases emergency in Santo Domingo and all Caribbeans, I went to the supermarket to search for a repeller, the cheapest one, in sales, costs almost ten dollars. It may last for one month. I am not surprised Dengue Fever, malaria, chikungunya and zika viruses are out of control. How can a poor–or average–person afford to avoid or cure it if they don’t even have clean water?
I am even developing the skill to kill mosquitos by hands in order to protect myself from those diseases. Mosquitos here fly really fast and they are really silent.
I am walking every day, and night, for about four hours, everywhere in the city. It´s shocking to see luxury villas just few hundred meters away from the ´favelas’, areas where many sleep in the street and have no more than few bricks or a field as a toilet.
I see a man, woman and kids nearly naked in an abandoned piece of land that they use as ‘home’, the smallest kid could be three years old, she does her physiological needs a couple of meters next to the space where they sleep, all in open air, on dirty grass surrounded by garbage.
In the marginal districts of Santo Domingo, which are the biggest part of the city, the most people live between trash, feces, and dogs. The only exception is for the Historical Center and few other streets where the higher class lives their fairy life.
Garbage collection is done by big trucks, which drive around with a couple of persons taking the trash with bare hands and pieces of wood sometimes, throwing the trash to the top of the vehicle. Often they jump inside the pile of trash to reduce its volume.If the area is in a poor neighborhood, they don’t collect all the trash of the street. The most common trash to find in the streets is the soft,foamy, plastic food case that eateries (comedor) give. In many places the most people is not educated about not throwing trash in the street, recycling does not exist.
Electricity is not always working, in average you have a blackout every couple of days, or daily. In all the city–the capital–, paradoxically you can see street lights on all day round, even with a bright sun–just in the rich streets, of course, don’t get me wrong–.
Water is also not always available and even the higher class may not have hot water. This is actually the least problematic thing, cause the temperature rarely goes below 25 degrees celsius, the perfect temperature for insects to reproduce.
CHRISTIANITY AND CARS ARE AT EVERY STEP
Almost one car on five has a sticker about Maria, Jesus or God. The church has been forcibly imported and took a big place in society. This is the common factor for the people here, poor and rich, they all believe in Christianity and want to display it. You may find cars with no number plates, driving like crazy possibly killing anything in front of them, but showing a plate with a biblical aphorism.
Cars are everywhere, the air is well aromatized with exhaust gas flavor and you don’t have to worry about dying of cancer because you will probably end up hit by a car before cancer can progress.
That’s also a demographic control from the government I guess.
Big, luxurious churches are displaying the power of God, a big power, but not strong enough to fight poverty, or actually they do fight poverty, and they won the war against poverty, internal poverty, cause the churches have never been poor themselves, they rather keep poverty outside their doors, I am not sure this was what Jesus was teaching.
THE POSH UPPER CLASS INDIFFERENT AND FEELING SUPERIOR
The wealthy neighborhoods have well maintained clean streets, luxurious cars, expensive shops and people dressed in brand clothing. Many of those persons don’t seem to be noticing the problem of poverty, or at least, they don’t do much to balance their wealth.
How can you feel proud of yourself inside a sportive Porsche, while you see from the black windows of your supercar, five years old children begging or an older woman homeless peeing in her pants because she has not even where to do it?
Maybe the black windows of your car are not just made to protect you from the sun, but also from the shame of being indifferent and a parasite? Those black glasses are not enough to isolate you from the poor, even your high-class hotel, resort, shopping mall, business center, it will not isolate you keeping you out of responsibility.
If you can help someone next to you, but you don’t do it, you are guilty.
There are always ways to help, even just talking.
PEOPLE AND BUSINESS
The only place where they’ve tried to cheat me so far it’s a big posh supermarket, where they tried to charge me more at the counter.
While in the markets, where poorest people is, I always get better prices than the one for locals.
DARK, BLACK, MORE BLACK, BLACKER
Talking with Dominican people I discover that they like Europeans, especially Spanish, even if during the colony time Spanish people massacred all the local population.
The just love white people.
Maybe that’s why they like them, because there is no autoctone anymore who cares about the matter.
By looking at the face of the people you can easily see that the most are a mix of European and African, having dark skin.
No traces of the native people.
In spite of the fact that most of the population is brown/black, still, Dominicans make huge differences between the level of ‘skin darkness’.
It seems that the darker you are the more you are marginalized.
Locals point at the darkest persons as “African”, too dark to have mixed up with the European in the past and probably from Haiti.
While in a basketball game with kids, I am told by pubers that the darkest ones are African–born in Santo Domingo but originally from Haiti–and they are less smart than brown people.
I tell them that I am a bit North African, as every south-Italian is–because of Hannibal–they are quite surprised and don’t answer.
WHO IS ACCOUNTABLE
I was talking to Esperanza, a sweet old lady that lives in the streets since a while, I was telling her that she could do some volunteering in exchanging for a bed and food. A woman nearby, just passing, that heard about this ‘work’, interrupted my conversation and told me: “I want to do it, she does not need it because she lives in the street and she is used to this lifestyle, she would not wake up on time to work”.
Hearing that is actually really sad, because even common people, from average income families, are thinking that once someone is in the street, has to end his life in the streets. While Esperanza was really interested in ending her homelessness.
The passing woman was arguing that Esperanza is adapted to street life and this is supposed to be until the end of her life, because in this ‘gentlewoman’ mind, the homeless lifestyle would give Esperanza freedom, more liberty than living in a house.
I am quite sure that woman never slept in the street, otherwise, she would not link freedom with social margination as result of a capitalistic, egoistic society.
It’s easy to be indifferent and say that the poor is in that condition because of himself, that they are lazy, criminals, drug addicted and maybe they even have more money than a middle-class person but they hide it. This kind of thinking is what I hate the most.
Each person in the street is different, each of them has a different problem, which is mostly psychological, physical and economical. But what they need for sure is help, respect, and consideration, each of them in a different way.
Whom to blame if a child of eight years is in the street with no food, no water, no place? We may say their family, they were not supposed to make a child if they didn’t have the resources to let him grow. But if the family didn’t have the education to know enough about it, if the family didn’t even have condoms or didn’t technically know how to prevent pregnancy. If maybe the family is not even there, who is accountable?
We can say the state and institutions of course, but who is accountable to watch and push state and institutions to do the right thing?
We are all responsible, starting from the richest, which is using the most resources.
We can do many things to fight poverty, the first is to choose honest politicians with a program to have the rich pay for who has no money. We don’t just have to give a vote, we have also to participate and keep an eye on the results, providing feedback.
We can help the people next door, if you see someone in need for some food, give them food.
If you see someone needing clothes, give them clothes.
The most of us have a bathroom, people in the street don’t, we can offer them to take a shower.
If someone is needing some social contact or psychological help, talk to that person.
Ah, another thing you can do to save the planet, if you don’t want a world of tramps, DON’T VOTE TRUMP.
We all know that Italians are considered “Mamma Mia” people, do you know why?
There are many other ‘family-countries’ though, even more conservative, still Italy is the land of the ‘mamma’. It looks like that people from Italy are the only saying these words, in the most various circumstances. It has been reported that, even when Italian Astronauts are in the space, they have used this sentence.
We could spend long time researching the reasons why those words are used so often and the history of such an attitude which is now a indisputable italian stereotype, but this is not the only matter of this writing.
This is also the story about my Mother.
I don’t know if I can call myself Italian, I mostly say ‘I was made in Italy’, or ‘I am biologically Italian’, but one thing is sure, I do use the expression “mamma mia! ” as well. I’ve never lost the habit of using that sentence. Because of this, some people makes fun of me (non-italians of course), but I don’t want to force myself to change this way of speaking, if “mamma mia!” comes in my mouth, I let it go.
I didn’t just use to say ‘mamma mia’ as a random exclamation, I used to outcry those words -or just the first- regularly, every morning, as a kid, when I could not see my mother in range of sight.
While teenager I finally stopped being a “Mammone” suffering of “mammismo” (‘mamma dependence’), not just because of my age going up but also because my mom went away, somewhere, without coming back. She left in 1998 and even if I feel her presence inside of me, I didn’t materially see her.
When she left I remember that I was about to leave myself, I could not accept the happening.
The bizarre surprise I had, was that in those days, when I was aged 16 and I lost her, I noticed all people around me turning into friends, even long time ‘enemies’ and people whom I was fighting with short before. Those persons were suddenly so kind to me, this was quite distressing.
There was one kid I was regularly playing and arguing with, he waas called “Gennaro”, we had daily contentions because of his habit to kill small insects just to enjoy the action, give pain to harmless creatures and making me upset.
One day Gennaro told me: “If I was in you I would let bury myself in the tomb with my mother… but you didn’t”- blaming me to not have done it. To not have have screamed in the streets.
He was not the only one who had such a way of thinking. In south-Italy the death of a loved one (or even a hated one) is often an misfortune where, if you don’t show your complete desperation to the public, you are seen as somebody who is not suffering and many will think you are a miserable person. At school and in the neighborhood everybody recommended me to go often to visit the grave, to be a good “christian”. I didn’t do it. I don’t think this would please anyone, also because whenever you go to a grave in that area nearby Naples, there is a mafia-system with some individuals ‘taking care’ of the graves, asking you -or forcing you- to give them money (actually Mafia and Mama’s have also some connection, but this is another topic). I prefer to follow her words: “love me now, not when I will be death”. My love for her, I will give to what’s next to me, following her words and lifestyle, on my way. Being happy and trying to transmitting positiveness.
She was often talking to me about an Italian book, called “Libro cuore”, telling the story of a group of kids, students, growing up and having adventures, contrasts and loves. It was a patriotic, colonialistic story where the author aimed to give an ‘unified feeling of citizenship’ in the newborn Italian Kingdom.
Strangely enough, Japanese cartoonists made a Manga from that story, a cartoon that was quite popular in Italy, of course (as many other manga’s are), but had nothing to do with Japan.
I thought that if more cartoons were made with ‘worldwide’ patriotism, or in better words, where the attempt of the author is to connect all the citizen of the globe, we would feel as part of one big territory, we would not even need the feel of citizenship or having patriotism-issues anymore. Many manga’s were actually made where the earth was attacked by exterior evil forces (Mazinga, Goldrake, Daitan, etc…) still, we needed to have someone else to consider outsider, the bed ones, – aliens, etc- , because we never manage to just feel as individual beings in serenity, but we need to group ourselves into one certain category or culture, in order to feel proud of being alive and belonging somewhere.
From the manga’s I also developed an uncommon love towards Japan, which I will reach by Bicycle in some time.
Mamma’s are often considered holy persons, for sure in meridional Europe and in other southern cultures, such as Latin America.
If we look deeper in the ‘Mamma mia’ expression, we could find links to the christian personage of Maria, which is considered by many religions to be the mother of us all, extremely worshiped in Italy (and many other countries).
The Italians use the exclamation ‘Madonna’ as well, which has exactly the same usage of ‘mamma mia’, with some more holy inner etymology of course.
Some say even ‘madonna, mamma mia’ all at once. Those are extremist Mamma Mia people.
Mamma’s are considered honest thus, I don’t know if I can define myself as honest as my mamma, but for sure I aim to not be dishonest, I actually remember a scene with my mother that keeps reminding me to be honest.
I was circa ten years old, me and my mom went to take a metropolitan train, which in Naples area becomes a ‘panoramic’ train, because of the long unaspected stops and delays. We had to ‘jump’ on it fast cause it was about to depart and we didn’t have the time to make a ticket. Nobody checks tickets on that train, also because the quality of the service is really low. My mother made tickets at the station where we get off , afterwards when nobody could have checked. She would feel as a thief if she would not have done it. This may seem normal for someone from north Europe, but in South Italy it’s not.
In Puerto Rico I met Jimmy Navarro, I am glad to have met him not just because he is a popular Actor and experienced Theater Artist, but because I felt a good connection with him. Probably because of some similarities in our past.
Most of the few friends, that get really close to me, have lost one of their parents, ironically I get to know it just after a while I met them.
I noticed that I have better relations with persons having a similar sad past as me. Remarkable? Normal? just a Coincidence?
I believe that the common unfortunate family past made me more connected and spiritually aware with those friends.
It’s the ultimate negative experience, when you reach the bottom, thinking nothing can be worse, that gives you the power to understand it was a sacrifice, a loss that will not be filled up with another individual person, but with love for who and what is next to you.
A BOOK THAT HELPED ME UNDERSTAND DEATH
It’s not easy to know what to do and how to behave when you face the biological death of loved ones.
A book that helped me understand was: “No fear, No death” – by Thich Nhat Hanh- . In Italian called “Il segreto della pace”. Book that goes profoundly into understanding that we are one big organism and how life goes in circles…
It’s election time in Belarus, in Europe there is maybe not much discussion on the media.
The Belorussian folk I met was not really keen to say much about this topic, they didn’t trust much the voting system and their point was: “we already know the winner, there should be not even need of making elections”. I even heard someone saying: “Lukasheko is good for stability”.
EPIDEMIC OF VOTING ADS
Minsk is full of posters, and any kind of advertising, to remind everyone about voting on 11 of October 2015, but nowhere to see the candidates, except for him…
Judging from the amounts of sings and election ads, it looks like the only problem of Belarus is that people may forget to go to vote. You should be blind not to notice any of those signs/ads/videos/posters/decorations/flags etc… Even sms’s on your phone. Actually a blind can notice it because there are non stop audio propaganda too, also in the metro.
During some walks in the city I see stands with ‘activists-like’ individuals giving information’s, I go to talk with them, one of them speaks English, I ask about who are the candidates – after receiving some suggestions from the others – he tells me he does not speak English(anymore) and therefore he can’t tell me about the other candidates. In a short while I see another stand, they are young boys and girls speaking English, they look like alternative, genuine persons. I get to know it’s the stand of Lukashenko and they can’t give me any information’s about the other candidates. I ask how to know who else is candidate and why there is nowhere any information about them, the answer is: I have to go on in the internet and find it out by myself.
COMMUNISM OR CAPITALISM
It’s a monumental city, where they keep Christmas decorations all year round, both in the streets and in cafes, almost to keep the place from changing, quite soviet style.
Shopping malls become more and more popular in Minsk, but here you have to pay even for the WC, and not just in the shopping malls, public toilets are all for paying. Many private places, such as casinos, luxury hotels, restaurants, discotheques, have an extremely posh style, in high contrast with the communistic ideology. This maybe shows a reaction of the rich people trying to show – as much as they can – that they don’t belong to the average-low class.
It’s quite paradoxical for me to see that here in Minsk, being communist means to be from the side of the government. I remember when I was a teenager, I was often in environments where the Italian communist party people was involved, because it represented the alternative and the freedom of expression – in Minsk is not the case.
In the Baltic states (ex USSR) I had chance to hear quite many locals talking extremely negatively about the Soviet time. I though they where just complaining because of the appealing modern consume-capitalist society. Now that I am in Belarus I understand what they were talking about. I understand how frustrating it feels to not have freedom of speech.
Often the most important thing people want to have is not money or power, but an identity.
OVER-SUPER-EXTRA BUREAU-CRAZY SYSTEM AND PEOPLE CONTROL
To just get inside a library they needed all your data, passport, telephone number, exact address and you have to pay. I asked to just have a look to the library, after almost half hour of BUREAUCRAZY, they asked me to pay fix membership. Okay, I can’t complain, I was born in Italy, there were BureauCrazy was born too, and now is still strongly alive!
Belorussian Police officers don’t look like to be annoying or arrogant. They are quite professional and even pay the ticket to enter the metro. Many other police agents in other countries, Italy especially (which are the specialists of taking advance of being in a uniform), could learn a lot from them.
Maybe they are a bit too strict, but I didn’t have much interaction with them, except for the registration at the migration office, which was quite annoying (because of the wild queue).
BELORUSSIAN WOMEN AND THE BELORUSSIAN ARMY
Women spend a lot of time and energy in dressing up like models, the same does the Government, in dressing up the city and the army. Waste of time, resources and energy.
Friendship and marriage are used in conservative societies, to support each other in any field, even for legal matters, political or economical. Having often people selecting partners and friends based on non-affective interests. Northern, and progressing society, have strong, accessible, public services that supports people, that’s why friendship and love are more selective and genuine in those cultures. More rare as consequence.
Even if people seems at first a bit cold and distant, they are approachable, just remember to say the following first : “Disvinize Pajalusta” – which I wrote completely wrongly!
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION vs PROPAGANDA
One easy sign regarding the limitation of expression is the internet upload speed, it’s almost impossible to find anywhere a connection with an higher speed than 0.5mbs, which means that it’s really hard for anyone to broadcast or upload videos or audio…
While everybody looks the TV, state owned, the ‘distraction’ mass tool.
SQUARES AND PUBLIC PLACES IN MINSK, NOT EVEN ARTISTS IN THE STREET
In Belarus you feel to be in an unreal place, out of the time. Back to the history. Many public places look majestic, imposing and clean but, at the same time, they are mostly empty and sterile. It looks like that the public authorities don’t really like the gathering of a persons in squares, they see it as an “unauthorized manifestation”. This gives as result people gathering in really ugly and hidden spaces, just to have a chat, drink or picnic.
Even street artists are not really welcome, because it seems that the governments sees them as ‘non tax payers” This is such a big contrast, I even find it back inside myself, where is in me a fight between two characters of me, one side, as my big brother, always shy and submissive. The other part of me, like my other brother, really proud and ambitions…
UNIVERSITIES, WORK and UNEMPLOYMENT
University buildings are simple, they look like hospitals. The most students seem to come from upper classes. After asking around I find out that if you get good points, studies maybe for free, otherwise you have to pay for it.
If you don’t find a job you can join the army (which always welcome people) or clean the streets (almost for free). If you decide to not do any of those, being unemployed, you will have to pay a tax (240$/Year).
You can evaluate the welfare of a government from how much weak individuals and animals are treated. Here homeless people is not well seen. Meat is eaten in every meal.
ALTERNATIVE PEOPLE & MONO-LIFE
Some of non aligned, artistic and anti-conformist persons may be found in McDonald or “west-style” bars. Maybe as form of ‘rebellion’ to the system.
I noticed that the still-soviet-style cafes and restaurants where I go to eat, play always the same music (soviet pop mostly). I don’t know if people likes it or realize this situation, but I am almost able to sing like the Ramazzotti-of-Minsk.
CYCLING & ARCHITECTONIC BARRIERS IN MINSK
The urbanistic structure of the city is definitely capitalistic. I have to admit that I loved the “countdown timer” on the traffic lights, it’s so practical, you always know what time to cross! (except once that the countdown didn’t show green after the red and I was almost killed by the speeding cars). Although Public transportation is cheap and efficient, the cars are king here. Or maybe more thank king. Often as pedestrian you have to take tunnels or longer ways in order to cross the huge car road.
As cyclist you don’t even have possibility to cross big roads, because pedestrian tunnels are totally bike-(or wheels)-unfriendly, you have to carry your bike by hand. Also at home I have to carry the bike up to my place, for three floors, cause nobody leaves bicycles outside and they may get stolen.
I didn’t even see one person on wheelchair or with handicap, this means one of the two:
Everybody is perfectly healthy in Belarus;
They are ashamed and not supported by the local welfare, to move or be independent, because there is not even one proper wheelchair-friendly ramp in the whole country.
THE TITLE MAY BE NOT APPROPRIATE
I apologize if anyone find that the title is not appropriate, actually I should have written it in a different way, not -Minsk, the city of Lukashenko- but -Belarus, the country of Lukashenko-. The thing is that, expect Minsk, the rest of the country looks pretty much forgotten by the administration, that’s why I didn’t bother to write “the country”.
Do you think I wrote any bull***t?
(due limited connectivity in Belarus I was not able to edit and upload the videos I wanted to…)
One of the difficult things for me, to do on the road, is to take picture and enjoy what you are photographing at the same time. Is not easy to catch the beauty of what you are watching, often by photographing all the time, you even lose connection with the reality and the enjoyment of the moment. That’s why sometimes I just leave the camera on my bicycle and I record everything without even pointing at it! (not always with the best results….)
Blood drinking girl in Pärnu
On my way south, from Finland to the bottom of Estonia, I was searching for a place to sleep, suddenly I met someone…
We met in the middle of the night without knowing each other, in a dark street in the countryside.
I was lost and she offered me her place to sleep (without even seeing my face).
I liked her style, her way of behaving and her apparent foolery, she was really extravagant.
While we cycled to her place, she was telling me that she was a monster and enjoyed killing people. Drinking their blood.
I was slightly scared, but tired enough from the trip to follow her without resistance.
her room had many dark-style decorations on the walls.
It was the house of her grandparents, with her alcohol addicted grandfather, always drunk, screaming all the time, and her extremely sweet grandmother, gentle and kind, suffering all the time.
Even being afraid that someone is a dangerous person, if you like that person and you think it’s someone worth to get to know, you should go for it. Everybody is a potentially dangerous person, and remember that even if someone is ‘bad’, he may change as well. Better to be now, with someone that looks like a dangerous person, or maybe not perfect, than to get to know someone thinking he is totally safe (which does not exist actually) , that will eventually change in the future in someone dangerous while the first person may get better. Not even death always related with ugliness: the dying of leafs on a maple tree are delightful to see for example.
The most people has a quite archaic and conservative opinion about sex and man-woman relationship. If you like to be in company of women you are seen as a dirty, stupid, unwelcome.
The first impression is that western Europeans can be just good to get scammed and ripped off.
There is a huge Russian influence here, even if people told me: “Lithuanians are more Russian-style than us…”.
Anyhow, I don’t see here a big wish for change from the past.
If a man is not prone to expose himself for his ideas, or his ideals have no value at all or he, as person, has no value at all.
Luca x2, the paradoxical coincidence
Passing by a hostel in the center of Riga, asking some information’s, I notice a person that I have seen somewhere before.
“Hallo, did I see you anywhere before?”
“yes, maybe” – he says with a strong french accent,
“ah, that’s funny, where were you the past weeks?” – I reply,
“me too! we should have met there then, did you hitchhiked to here?”
“no, I came with the bicycle”
“me too! what a coincidence!”
“what is your route?”
“I am coming from Scandinavia”
“me too! that’s more than a coincidence… ! where are you going?” – I say, almost not believing it!
“south, direction middle-east,”
“me too!” – I even start to worry about too many coincidences! – “since when did you start?”
“me too, seen that we have so much things in common, we should introduce each other! What’s your name?”
“Luca” – he says
“me too!!” I reply
This is funny, weird and does not even look like to be possible, but it is. And you have seen it on video!
I love Gulliver’s travels because whenever he was traveling, in the each new place he arrived, the people could not understand or properly interpret experiences he had in the previous places. This happen in real life as well, who hasn’t traveled into a country, is not really able to understand certain things about that culture.
What if we would say to an anthropologist: “are you sure the culture you talk about is not just a scientific stereotype?” – I don’t think it is, but would be interesting to hear the answer.
If you just go in the street and shout: “Giedre” you will get at least the half of the girls turning their head. This is the most common name for girls.
Lithuanians really love to add sauces to any kind of food, especially ketchup!
Pizza with ketchup, mayonnaise or tartar sauce is quite common.
Coffee and tea are not filtered, which means that you are mostly eating, not drinking it.
Vegetarians and vegans in Vilnius
When I asked to a waiter in a restaurant for a vegan meal, she gave me this explanation:
“Vegetarian here means that you are allowed to eat fish, Vegan means that you don’t eat fish or meat, but you do eat milk and eggs.”
I was surprised, but actually I have to admit that in Lithuania people is still much more forward than in more southern countries about fair and healthy food, for sure Latvians and Belorussians are not better…
A group of three persons was behaving a bit annoying around the main train station during night time, once I called police they came really fast, they were helpful and did a good job, I even got a translator.
With Police the truth is sometimes the least credible.
The danger of who generalize is to end up fighting against his companions.
There are public bicycles and some bicycle paths, still the system is not perfect and in many streets it’s really hard to cycle because the path may be marked as “cycling lane”, but , it has in some areas paving stones that makes it almost impossible to cycle. The crossings points need to be improved too.
Street Theater, Street Performances
Lithuanians have a sense of creativity, art and modernism, I was quite surprised to notice that.
There are many enjoyable street performances in Lithuania, regardless the cold climate (of course mostly in the summer), if you happen to pass in Vilnius in August you may enjoy some carfree days with Art, Sports and performances open to all.
Theater VS Real Life
Theater and reality overlap in my life, it merges until the point I don’t play theater anymore but I play my life, making the world as scene. This makes my technical acting skills decrease, but my social and life skills improve.
Regardless some other fields where there is room for improvement, in Lithuania, you have great internet infrastructure: the best European fibreoptic internet penetration (usage) and both home and mobile internet really fast and affordable.
Technology VS Nature
How to know when tech is going against nature? Well, one easy attitude would be to use technology to better understand and follow nature’s rules.
Tattoos, sauna, coffee, smoking, alcohol, many trees around you and stone under your feet instead of soil.
Stereotypes or real characteristics of Finland?
It’s hard to draw a line between facts and personal mental representations, but one of the facts is that the Finnish nose is really peculiar, you can recognize it directly, the central part, between the holes, is a bit large at the bottom part. Really funny and sweet.
One of the things I learned, not in Finland, but in the Navy is how to sit on a wc, now that I travel is quite useful.
To stay in topic of wc, I can say that toilets in Finland are amazing. The shower bidet is just divine, I suggest you to get to know it.
RELATIONSHIPS IN FINLAND:
Finnish girls have a really particular way of walking, completely straight on their spine, they don’t move the head at all and they just point forward with their eyes, it looks almost like a march.
Having contacts with finnish women I discover that loving and caring too much for a woman in Finland is equal to lose her, good to know.
Because in Finland women behave like man, I start to behave like a woman, now I see what means to reject someone interested in you and you to love accompanied by interest…
I did learn something from women in Finland, for example how to recognize mushrooms and how to down from stairs without light, I tried it several times and is curious and interesting. But I travel to find a reason why to stop traveling, for the same reason I did one night stands.
To give a bottom line in a more martial ‘artistic’ way: “As a samurai prepares himself life long for death, I prepare myself for you to leave me”
Ah, you would think, why do you just write about girls?
Don’t worry, ‘par condicio”, I write about Finnish man as well, just continue reading…
THE FINNISH FOREST:
Like fighters in the aikido do (to stay in theme of martial art), I use external power and energies to get my own benefit with no use of my internal power. Like in yin-yang, I don’t lose my yang by using other’s yin.
This is for sure useful while sleeping in the forest….
The forest is one of the most comfortable place to sleep, there is nothing as magnificent as opening your eyes and seeing the green leaves on the trees, hearing birds and other animals peacefully living their life.
A domestic cat between the trees of the forest, he looked like a fish trying to walk, not even able to make few meters without hurting himself, how sad.
CYCLING AND (RE)CYCLING
Sometimes life is really paradoxical, in Finland, one of the richest country, I learn one of the thing done mostly by (non-economically)rich people: “dumpster diving”.
But actually the day there will be no food in the trash, or even better, no trash at all, there will be no poor neither.
During the Finnish winter I set down a new polar record, cycling at -18 for three hours in total, in one day!
While cycling daily at -25 for about one hour.
As reward for my nordics efforts I also met Joulupukki, the real Santa, which lives in Lapland and nowhere else. I have to say that he was quite shy. To be shy is just a way of damaging yourself and get others dominate you.
This is something I think, which applies not just to Joulupukki’s, but to Finnish men as well, which I find quite shy. While the women are not shy at all.
We often have more fears by thinking than by acting, when you think too much about actions you alienate yourself from the reality becoming frustrated and fearful.
What makes me less shy is also riding a bicycle, it makes me understand how to live and how to love:
If I ride knowing and thinking that my destination is close to me and I should arrive in short Time, I will be anxious, hurrying up and ruining the trip.
If I just ride without the thought of My destination, I enjoy My time.
The same for loving and living.
HOW TO…….. WITH A CONDOM:
How to find an address in a rainy day in Finland with a smart phone and a condom,
Home addresses in Finland are not like in other countries, one house number may be the same for one, two, three, even more than ten buildings!
Then there are letters to identify buildings: a, b, c, d…¢, §, Z!
Then eventually there are more numbers coming after the letter … 1….2…3…5…8…1018586.
House numbers, letters, numbers…. And locals mostly don’t know where an address is if you ask.
I am in a shop, outside is raining and I really need to use my phone to find the address of my host.
I don’t have a map, I need my smart phone but is raining heavily and I have no way to protect my phone, I put a condom on my phone, people is looking weird to me…
They don’t understand the utility of my act. But it works!
THEATER & CULTURE
There are societies where public social services are good, other countries have just local people that help each other, the worst place to be is where none of the two things is to find.
Traveling I just realize that the only way to get to know a country or a culture is to go there, nobody can explain you the feeling and the experience of visiting a place, no matter how extensive they talk or write about it.
One thing that I hate are airports or airplanes, they make you move so fast that you don’t realize where you are, they all look the same.
The Capital cities are often the least representative towns of the culture and traditions of a country. But still I spend much time in capitals, cause I am lazy and in big towns I find much more services…
ah, I almost forgot to mention: if Finland may be not the country of rabbits, at least Helsinki is!
In Helsinki, I have also met a really skillful artist, Aino Kurki:
Cycling to the capital of Latvia, I had some tough time but it made me end up in a wonderful place…
I never thought that I in the northern coast of Riga (about 70 km from the city) there would be such beautiful landscapes, amazing, fascinating views that drained up the battery of my camera.
Actually I regret to have made so much pictures, because I spent the most of my time looking at the camera instead of looking at the reality.
The enjoyment of the sight made the time passing fast, suddenly it was dark and I was still 70 KM from my destination (Riga), I thought “ok, I will spend the night in a hostel here…”; actually I didn’t had into account that there are no hostels in those villages, not eve motel, there were two camping but they were close.
After few kilometers I find a guest house, I call the owner and he asks me: “how many you are” – I say – “I am alone…” I don’t finish the sentence that the guy reply: ” we are closed.”
I start to think to pass the night in the forest, but it is about to rain and for the day after there is the same weather forecast: rain.
I go to a supermarket to ask if they know any place where I can go and to buy some food. The food is extremely expensive and of bad quality, I ask the woman if I can eat inside the supermarket cause I am cold outside (I cycled for 10 hours and I wanted some warmth), the woman says: “no”.
I find a last camping on google maps, I call and a really kind woman, speaking perfectly english (better than me at least), says: “just come to a green gate”.
Of course I don’t find the gate, but after a couple of calls we find each other and I am so surprised of how friendly and kind this person is.
She tells me that they are close, but she wants to help me and she can offer me an appartment, for free! – I was actually shocked from her kindness and good heart.
I enter the place and is just amazing, beautiful wooden floor, wooden doors and all modern with all comfort!