Leaving My Wife
Gunita turned up to take the key when we left,
which was of course especially sad. Even though I tried not being
zentimental saying goodbye to my new wife was of course specifically
hard. I had to have words with Jonathan because well, he seemed
to think he can just go around hugging other people’s wives without
discretion on such occasions. Sometimes I think that the whole eating
salads thing is just a front.
And then we left.
We got lost heading out of Liepaja, but once again,
we managed to find our way by taking every possible road until we
found the right one. OK, actually we just stopped and asked someone
for directions. I say “just”, this isn’t as easy as it may appear
when you don’t know the language. In fact it can be quite entertaining.
As we hit the road proper, having experienced the
mildest Latvian winter for a millennia, the snow started to come
down properly. It was the kind of snow where, as you’re driving
along in it at night, you can pretend that you’re flying a space
ship at near light speed as the stars fly past in the ebony void.
Ok, maybe that’s just me that does that. Although, now that the
idea is planted I’d like to add that if you do try this, remember
to be on the look our for other cars in space that aren’t doing
light speed, as running into the back of them when planet hopping
can be seriously embarrassing, not to mention, can cause quite a
bit of physical anguish as well.
And that’s how it continued until we hit the Lithuanian
border. A lovely lady came out to greet us. I handed over the passports,
she checked them, and then in traditional border guard style, checked
us, and then she asked for … an auto passport. I suddenly had a
distinct sense of déjà vu. We explained the situation as best we
could and then she called a couple more guards out of the office
who came to have a look. They then checked the passports, and then
checked us, and then all three of them went inside. With our passports.
We could see them through the office window as
they looked through various documents, and checked computers, and
then about five minutes later they came back, handed us our passports,
and the lovely lady suggested it was ok and we could go. Sighs of
relief all round. As Jonathan wound up his window, and they headed
back in out of the snow, one of the other guards turned and said
very matter of factly, “good luck”.
Now we both wondered about that, but you can’t
complain about people wishing you well. The problem being the way
that he said it suggested that he knew things that we didn’t and
that those things may very well not be good. We set off again into
the snow, with a mild air of trepidation, but at least with one
small obstacle overcome. Of course, we still had to get across the
Lithuanian Polish border, which was where we’d had all the fun the
first time around.
The trip across Lithuania was pretty non eventful.
We carried on driving through the night telling each stories, recapping
things that we’d done over the previous week, pretending we were
in a space ship traveling at near light speed as the stars fly past
in the ebony void. Perhaps that was just me. After a while it stopped
After another while, it also stopped being Jonathans
birthday. We then realised that if we could make it to the Polish
border within the hour, then due to the time difference, we could
make it be Jonathans birthday again. So suddenly we had a race on
our hands. It has to be said that racing is not really the sort
of thing that your average Ford Transit is actually designed for.
Especially in the snow. As the minutes ticked away, and we didn’t
actually seem to be getting that much nearer to the border I found
myself working on a more subtle solution. If I could keep turning
the van clock back a few minutes at a time while Jonathan concentrated
on the driving, then I might just be able to convince him that we’d
made it. Unfortunately, we were a lot further from the border than
either of us had anticipated and eventually he noticed me doing
it. “That’s OK” he said, “the vans clock was a few minutes fast
anyway”. Little did he know it had already been shifted about twenty
minutes but heh...
It didn’t matter anyway. Even with the added help
of traveling at near light speed through the snow, and subtle alterations
to the clock, we still didn’t hit the border until it was gone one
o’clock. Jonathan would have to wait another whole year, just like
the rest of us.
We’d decided to take a slightly different route
on the way back. There was a larger road that went over the border
that we’d missed on the way up, and we assumed that a larger road
meant a larger border crossing, and therefore more chance of getting
someone who spoke English if we had to try and explain our predicament
again. It made sense at the time.
As we pulled into the border crossing, the car
in front of us was being taken apart, piece by piece, by a couple
of very efficient looking men in army uniforms. There was a car
to one side that was also being taken apart. As we sat and waited
patiently, noting that it had a British registration, a van full
of men in army uniforms turned up, jumped out, and preceded to help
with the serious business of pulling things apart. This is going
to be fun, I thought.
So when they’d finally put the car in front back
together enough for it to drive away, and we edged forward to the
window I smiled my most innocent smile at the guard as I handed
over the passports. He looked at them and then looked at us, and
then, needless to say, said …