As most of you already know, I am back home safe and sound! I have already started the process of settling back into the life I knew before Latvia. My exchange year adventure has ended, but there is one story I still have to tell. And it is the best one yet!
It all started out as a wonderfully planned evening with friends when it all took a turn that no one could have expected. It involves skipping rehearsal, eating sushi, stalking a bass, a sauna, a pond, and a fire. I might as well start from the VERY beginning, so here goes:
One day, my friend Kristine texted me out of the blue and asked me if I would like to go with her and Inga to an A Capella concert. (The King’s Singers’ performance, to be exact.) I said yes for two reasons; one being that I love concerts, the other being that I knew an evening with those 2 would be anything but boring. So we made plans for the evening of the 14th of July, and then waited for the fateful date to roll around. (Waiting is the worst!)
Everything went well during the 2 weeks leading up to the event and then on the 10th of July, we were informed that we, in fact, have a mandatory choir rehearsal on the 14th of July. Our choir director told us this right after he finished deciding which people would not compete with us during the world choir olympics… What to do?? Go to the concert, have a great time, but possibly get kicked out of the competition, or sit in rehearsal all evening. It was a rough realization. Kristine went up to try and talk with our director, but he was not in the mood to hear about it, so I guess we had a decision to make. In the end, we decided to go to the King’s Singers; or in Kristine’s words “Inga has decided to not listen to Zirnis.” 😀
On the 12th of July, Inga’s second choir (a women’s choir also directed by Zirnis) had their competition day. That was also the day that my parents came into town. I went to her concert before going to the airport and in the lobby after they sang, Zirnis came up to me and asked if we were going to the concert on the 14th. I replied truthfully. He simply smiled and pat my head and said, “Okay”. And that was that! We had permission! Oh Happy Day!
Fun fact: Right after I took this picture, a Chinese woman came up to me and wanted a picture with me! Score!
Another fun fact: At the airport, a random woman came up to me and asked if I was that girl from America she saw on TV! She asked for my autograph and for a picture with her daughter! Double score!
Continuing with the story, Kristine, Inga and I were able to go to the concert without fear of the consequences. We had a delicious sushi dinner on the rooftop of a building in Riga. A bird named Boris even came to join us!
He was a very smart bird. The waitress said that he lived across the street and flew over everyday at mealtime, but never brought any friends. He knows where it’s at!
During dinner, Inga and Kristine gave me a beautiful gift. It is a necklace of the ancient Latvian symbol of the sun, and on the back is a carving of all our names and the year 2014. It was the perfect gift, and I will cherish it forever. I can put it on whenever I am sad or lonely and remember my adventures in Latvia, especially the one that is about to follow.
We went to the concert, and it was spectacular. For those of you who don’t know, The King’s Singers is an a capella men’s group from England. Those men must practice 24/7 because every note was absolutely perfect! And the best part was that the bass (coincidentally the most attractive) started off the show introducing the group in Latvian! It was so impressive!! So, logically, we all three got pictures with him after the concert. Kristine even got his signature!
After the after-concert, we headed to Kristine’s house to continue our adventures. It was already at least 10 PM, but trust me, the fun had barely started! We arrived to a scorching sauna, a box of donuts, and a calm pond. According to Latvian tradition, one must get naked, sit in the scorching sauna until one can no longer bear it, run onto the dock and jump into the pond. Then repeat. (The donuts were added on my request.) And so that is how it went down. It was much more fun than I could have imagined. I would definitely like to keep this tradition alive in my life in America.
At around 3 AM, between the pond and the sauna, I look out the door and see a fire. I say, “Look a fire!” (As you can see, I am very creative in Latvian phrases in the middle of the night.) Inga goes to look and says, “That’s not just any fire, that is a house fire!” So we all grabbed our towels, hopped in the car and drove to investigate further. Sure enough, a greenhouse had caught on fire and no one was awake to notice it! It was extremely close to the house and so the possibility of it spreading was highly likely. Kristine calls the emergency number (which in Latvia is 112) and reports it. Since it was very dark, we couldn’t find the name of the street, so we decided to drive opposite the firetruck to direct them to the fire. We sat at the main intersection waiting. It was during this time that the gravity of the situation set in. This is serious stuff. It was also noticed that we had on only towels, but it was too late to do anything about that. We ended up waiting there for a solid 20 minutes without any sight of the fire brigade. When they finally come, they turn off on the wrong road. Typical. We wait a little longer to see if they would turn around, but after 5 minutes, we decided to drive back to the fire, because we noticed a large build up in smoke.
Sure enough, the fire fighters found it and were in the process of putting it out. What a relief! We all got out of the car to go ask what happened. (By this time, the sun was already rising and the sky was fairly light.) The fireman at the truck gave us a strange look and asked us what in the world we were doing. Inga explained that we were the ones that called in the fire and we had just come to make sure everything was okay. He said, “Come take a look if you want.” And curiosity got the better of us. As we walk into the yard, 8 firemen all turned around and stared. I think I even saw some of their jaws drop. Just imagine, 4 AM putting out a fire in the middle of the countryside and all of a sudden 3 babes dressed only in towels come strolling in. What a sight! Kristine repeatedly asked what caused the fires, but their minds were too busy looking us over to answer any silly question like that. It was then that we realized it would be best to leave. Just as we turned to go, one of the fire-fighters asked, “Were you in the sauna? Is it still warm?” And that confirmed it. We sped out of there, went back to Kristine’s home and shut off all the lights. And then burst into uncontrollable laughter! What a night!!! Who could have foreseen that?! Thankfully, no one got hurt and the neighborhood was saved.
From that moment on, Kristine, Inga and I have become known in Latvia as fire-fighters, and no one will ever let us forget it.