Alight Fingers Juggling and Circus Skills Workshops  

Balls To The Baltic - Latvia or Bust



A Place for the Night

We’d decided that we would stop for the night as soon as we found somewhere suitable, although at the speeds we weren’t going at, it took us quite a while to get anywhere suitable or otherwise. Eventually a sign for a hotel showed itself at the side of the road, so we stopped and jumped out of the van and trekked across eighteen inch deep snow to get to the place. It appeared to be decidedly shut, and not so much a hotel, as a house that may have had a spare room. We decided to head back to the van, at which point Jonathan slipped and smacked his coccyx into the ground, which is a slightly more painful way of saying he fell on his arse. Whilst I was still laughing (ever the companionate one) an old lady stuck her head around the door of the ‘hotel’ and started trying to attract our attention. On recognising we were English (perhaps it was the way Jonathan was sitting) she said she’d get her son, and vanished back into the place as Jonathan got himself back onto his feet. Her son came out who spoke mildly better English and we discussed what they had by way of accommodation. I could tell that Jonathan wasn’t too keen on this, by the way he was slowly retreating back up the path towards the van. Maybe it was the fact that he was embarrassed about having made his initial introduction on his butt, although given that I don’t think there’s anything in the world that could embarrass Jonathan, maybe it was simply that there was something just a little bit too ‘Bates Motel’ about this whole mother and son operation. Whatever the reason, we made our excuses and headed back to risk the roads once more rather than their showers.

It wasn’t exactly sensible to head out on the roads again, but it was only a few miles to the next big town by this point. It wasn’t too long before we started to see signs of civilisation again, like lights, and garages, and then as ever, huge great blocks of flats.

As our windy little road straightened out, and then became a dual carriageway, we were overtaken by a VW van doing what seemed like, to put it mildly ‘unadvisable speed given the conditions’. Jonathan commented “There goes someone with the confidence of a man who’s not just put his van in a ditch”. We followed it for about another hundred yards before it lost its grip on the road, and suddenly started to fishtail. Fortunately for the van it was on dual carriageway because it was suddenly using the full width of both lanes as it swung one way and then the other like a promiscuous bisexual. After swinging to and fro six times (we know because we counted the swerves in the tracks in the snow as we caught up with them) they finally regained control without hitting anything, and then, I’m guessing sitting slightly higher in their seat, I’m glad to say they carried on more steadily. It’s cruel, but we laughed quite a lot at that.

“Let me know if you see a hotel” said Jonathan.
“There’s one” I said instantly as we just passed the road leading up to the building with the neon green sign that said “Hotel” on its roof.

We carried on driving around trying to get back to it, as the roads got thinner and thinner. It got to the point where I thought that we really shouldn’t be driving the van down these tiny lanes when we ended up in the middle of the market square. 

It was utterly beautiful. The snow was lit from below as it fell through the night sky onto the rectangle of Baroque tenement-houses, and I had the distinct feeling I suddenly knew what it felt like to live in a snow globe. It was indirectly reminiscent of the contrast between the flats and the Orthodox Cathedral in Liepaja. The shear beauty of what had been, compared to what we create when we simply want mass housing cheaply. We drove through the square and then stepped out of the van, and then Jonathan suggested that he was pretty sure that the hotel I’d seen was just the other side of the buildings in front of us. I nipped round to check on foot, and sure enough, his sense of direction hadn’t let him down.

We headed inside from the cold and checked in, and then I headed up to check out the lodgings while Jonathan went back to bring the van around. Compared to the last couple of places we’d stayed in, this place was huge. I think I could have happily lived in that room for a while, if it wasn’t for the fact that it developed an infestation of jugglers very soon after we moved in.

We dropped our stuff in the room and headed out to find a bite to eat. There were a few restaurants in the market square so we headed back through the snow in that direction. The first one we passed was devoid of people, which is never a good sign for a restaurant, so we moved across the square where we could see another sporting significantly more life. It turned out it was just closing for the evening, so we headed back to the first and headed inside. Only to be told that they were just about to close for the evening, and then after a brief pause, but that it was alright because there was still time to feed us. So we sat and they brought us good sized plates of exceptionally good food, and we chatted with our very friendly waitress who it turned out had just come back from studying in England. Then they charged us not a lot and we headed back out into the night. I have no idea why the place was empty unless the place across the square was giving away the food for free or accompanied with sexual favours. We then wandered around the town for a while. It’s amazing how knackered you can get just sitting in a van all day, even with the added excitement of driving it into ditches, but I wanted to stretch my legs for a bit, and to be honest, the five year old in me wanted to hang out in the snow for a bit.  Eventually we found our way back to the hotel and ‘crashed’ for the second time that day.



Website by Loaded Dice nafooterge j