Dampness was the word for the day. It didn't rain, but the air was filled with humidity.
After 10 km, I reached an asphalted road. But after a short distance I had to leave it for my daily doze of mud and puddles.
The day gets colder. The sky was starting to brighten up and the light was always changing, offering me amazing contrast. A delight for photography.
It took me quite a long time to reach Viesite. Again, I had to go out of path, guessing my way, trusting my sens of orientation and using the compass.
This part of Latvia is completely covered by forest. I only saw 2 timber men working with heavy machines. I guess they didn't even notice me.
I finally reached Viesite, it was almost dark. I was myself surprised to see the white panel written in black characters that was naming the village. I walked faster than I thought but was exhausted.
Where to stay now? Since I had to gave up the tent and all the equipment that would allow me to make a shelter, I had to find a place where to spend the night everyday.
Thus, everyday around 5PM, I look for a house that would welcomed me.
I had just past the panel indicating Viesite, when a man addressed to me. He was walking his dogs.
I explained him who I was and what I was doing. He said to me that he could help me but that early morning he had to go to work.
That was fine for me. He was preparing crepes, exactly as we french do it. I was then welcomed by a familiar odour.
His name is Guntars. He lives here alone since he has divorced. But this night, his son Samuel was there. He had missed his bus back home where he lives with his mum, so he had to spend the night at dad's place.
So far, I met in Latvia great people. But Guntars has something more. He his a true good man. Not only kind, helpful, welcoming. He is a real loving person.
"Eyes are the mirror of the soul" said Oscar Wilde. His eyes were not lying.
We had interesting conversation. I regret that my Russian is not better. Because of it I missed many conversations.
However, so far, it made all those meeting possible. 80% of Latvian can speak Russian.
This has been at many times, the subject of my talk with the people I met.
In 2012, Latvia had a referendum initiated by Russian speakers to officially recognise Russian as the second official language. The result was a clear NO.
I personally thought it would have been a good thing. A way to pacify the rather tense relations with the neighbour and former invader.
I was thinking as a convinced European. I consider myself as a European from France. At school we where taught German, and it seems a good idea to share as many things as possible to avoid conflict.
In the EU, we don't impose to any European citizen who choose to live in other EU country that its own, to embrace the culture and language ( even if at some extend, language become compulsory for practical reason). We only expect them to follow the country's laws and customs. As for immigrant, we expect them to follow the same rules, but they are free to follow their traditions if those ones are not infringing the law.
But for Latvians, it is another story. The referendum initiated by pro-Russian was, in fact, to impose Russian views and to avoid, for a marginal group of people to integrate themselves. Those people are rejecting Latvian culture and identity. They do not accept the Independence of Latvia and wish it to continue to be a satellite of Russia (Ukraine should soon face the same problem in Crimea).
If they had won a yes, then everything would had to be in the two languages. Therefor, they would have not been under any obligation to learn Latvian language anymore or to support Latvian culture.
One must understand that Latvia is a small country and that out of Latvia nobody speaks Latvian. Under soviet occupation, they were not allow to live according to their traditions. They were forced to learn Russian and to embrace the the uniformed official culture.
Now that they are free and protected by EU, they want to exist as an independent country with its own culture, history, customs and language.
Early morning, we all left the house. Samuel to school, Guntars to work, and me to Preili.