I had to leave early for the last day. I had to meet journalists from Rezekne television at 3PM. First going to the border and then come back to meet them 6 km back to the village of Pasiene.
The days were clearly getting longer now, sun was rising before 8AM and setting down after 6PM. The sun was out early too, but it was quite chill this morning. The house is by a lake, a quite big one. I went to the shore to enjoy the sun rising.
The road indicated by the GPS simply did not exist. I have been looking carefully for trace of old passage but nothing. The point indicated was leading to impassable bushes. I decided to cross straight in the forest that was 50 meters away. The forest was a new forest, young birch trees placed in rows. The ground was still frozen and the grass frosted.
There was a nice pathway going down the hill, I decided to follow it. It end up on a shore where were lying a lot of trunks. This was de facto not done by men. The stumps were not cut clean like with a chainsaw, one could clearly notice the mark of teeth made by beavers
The lake was frozen and still covered by a thick layer of ice. There was no other signs of beaver's presence, no visible constructions on water.
But I noticed on snow a big foot print, very specific, a moose print. Moose are very big animals, the size of a horse and are very aggressive. They can attack you without warning and kill you with a powerful hoof strike.
I was hoping to see many on my way, but this was the only sign of moose I saw.
As it was frozen, I decided to walk on ice, got used to it now, and I must say that it was giving me some thrills all the time.
After a while, I reached a crossroad with 2 houses. It was the road to Pasiene.
Pasiene is another very nice village. It is located 12km south of Zilupe. Zulupe is a middle size town and a direct way to Riga by train. It is also a border passage to Russia.
Pasiene has a very beautiful church, kept in very well conditions. It seems that the church has been recently refurbished. It can be seen from far, and the sun was adding to its splendour.
The village has only one shop on the main road. There are plenty wooden houses but soviet building bars too.
The end of my trip was still 6km from there. The goal of my trip was to reach the western point of Latvian territory to the eastern point. I was now very close.
Walking near the border is subject to permission. Before I left Riga to Liepaja, I had to get this special form. It is just an authorisation to walk by the border area for a specified time. I had it very easily. The officer who handed it to me was even pleased about my trip there.
To reach the very eastern point, I had to leave the road and go through field until I saw the physical border line.
The border is materialised by a sandy path with two concrete cones, one white and purple for Latvia, the other red and green for Russia. The border is between those to cones.
Here I am in Russia.
I put a step behind this pole just to say that I have been in Russia. Of course this move was illegal, but the Russian guards in the watchtower didn't shoot me, so that was fine!
At this very point my trip ended. I reached the eastern point after 653km walking through this wonderful country.
I was very surprised not to be stopped by borders guards. Remember that a lot of smuggling is taking place there. There is no doubt that from the tower the guards had spotted me. But I didn't see anyone.
It is only on my way back that a van stopped at me and controlled me.
The guard took a look at my passport and to the authorisation, took some note in a carnet and told me that he saw me there at the border. In fact, they already knew I was coming there, so nothing to worry about.
He asked me where I was going now. As I had to meet those journalist for a TV interview in Pasiene, I told him so. He then kindly proposed to drive me there. On the way, he stopped to pick up 5 other guards that were patrolling the border. We talked and they dropped me at the meeting point.
The interview took an hour, it was very pleasant talk. I am still surprised and very pleased by the media coverage I had, the interest shown for my little expedition in this surprising country.
This is how ended my trip.
After the interview, they drove me to Rezekne. I stayed there overnight and in the morning I took a bus back to Riga. I stayed in Riga 4 more days, time to see my friends there, to see an exhibition about World War I, to meet journalist from newspaper Diena for a last interview, and to enjoy the charms of my lovely Riga!