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I didn’t Know

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There are so many things I didn’t know.

I didn’t know that I missed my native land as much as I did.
I didn’t know that I missed some foods that I grew up with.

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I didn’t know that I would miss the way linden tree and jasmine aromas mix together when they bloom.
I didn’t know that I would really enjoy seeing people I grew up with after all these years.
I didn’t know that some of them don’t actually care if I am married to a man or a woman and what they actually care about is – what kind of person I have become.
I didn’t know that my country in some ways is still something that I can be proud of even though I do not call it home anymore.

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I didn’t know that there are things that would still make my heart skip a beat and make me smile.

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I didn’t know that my bitterness about people’s ignorance and narrow-mindedness would start disappearing the moment I realized that things and people were changing.
I didn’t know that me smiling and wishing somebody a nice day would not be taken as something odd but actually appreciated.
I didn’t know that for the first time in 13 years I would be leaving Latvia with sadness in my heart wishing that I had a little bit more time.

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I didn’t know that of all the places Latvia would make me fall in love with graffiti. Not just some kind of random splashes of color and letters but meaningful and sometimes political messages for people to wake up.

And I didn’t know that I had changed so much…

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Travel Confessions: Down the Memory Lane

There are so many great memories about places I have visited and even greater memories of people I have met. How do you do justice and pay respect to these memories without leaving something out?

So, I have decided to walk down the memory lane. I was born and raised in Latvia. In my early 20’s I traveled across the ocean to see the world and did not return. I have been back to Latvia a few times since then but a few years ago, for the first time, I went there as a tourist. I did not go home to visit. I went to see places and remind myself about my roots and the beauty of that wonderful little country.

The moment I stepped off the plane I was carried away by a smell of jasmine and linden tree flowers that together make your head spin. That is a divine aroma.  It is hard to explain, you just have to go there at the end of June and experience it yourself.

Kolka, The Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea has amazing man untouched wild beaches. You can walk for miles on the beach and not meet a soul. It is emotionally and physically refreshing.  I felt that little inner child wake up and embrace the day the way it was – perfect.  No sounds of cars, no people, no noises that distract you from hearing yourself.  I was walking on the beach to the sound of my beating heart.

The Baltic Sea

I didn’t expect anything, I was not in a rush to get anywhere, and The Mother Nature just sent me the most beautiful thing – a swan. It is one of the most graceful birds in Europe. I know, I know – I will go all sentimental on you here but looking at this bird made me think about the beauty of our existence. I have so many wonderful friends that I have met over the years. Some of them are just virtual and some of them I had a chance to meet but every single one of them is beautiful inside out.  And think about how many people we still have to meet! How many are out there that could take our breath away?

USSR garages

A few days later we were wondering through a small town where my friend lives. I couldn’t take my eyes off some old falling apart buildings, garages, and some other structures that were left behind as the Legacy of the USSR.  It all might look broken and old, and quite disturbing but to me it was a little reminder of my childhood, sports I played, games I enjoyed, buildings I used to hide behind.

Geocaching in the Wild

We also went gocaching with some friends and ended up exploring ruins, abandoned houses, crawled underneath train tracks (don’t tell my mother), walked on rotten bridges, and wondered in a deep grass.  This was my homeland and I fell in love with it again. It wasn’t my home but it was a place I loved deeply in my heart, never forgot and never will forget.

Summer Solstice in Pedvale, Latvia

I know that I will be back as I still have a very deep connection with this country. You can’t forget lakes, forests, flowers and the Baltic Sea that echoes in you every time you are somewhere by the water.

I know this is one of those tagging things that have rules. Somebody tags me and I have to pass it on and nominate a few others. However, I feel bad about putting people on the spot.

First, thank you, Liz, for posting your amazing travel confession and then encouraging me to follow through with this.

I have three people that I know have so much to say about traveling and confessions, maybe not both at the same time but… I will leave it up to them to post or not post a travel confession.

Rules:

Post a photo (or photos) and description(s) of your confession(s) in a new post.
Tweet your post with hashtag #TravelConfession and follow/tweet @Traveling9to5
Tag 3-5 other travelers you’d love to see confess and tag them on Twitter.

Carolyn – she is an awesome person. Sometimes I think she knows my struggles and posts about them. I just love reading her reflections

Lois – she has been an amazing inspiration in my life. She is my virtual friend but I believe that one day we will meet in person and I will be swept off my feet.

Independent – I hope he will post in English. I have been reading his blog for so many years and he never stops amazing me.

Hawaii Scuba Diving – Day 2

Diving in Hawaii

I guess, I survived despite my own whining and predictions.  The worst thing was discovering that my diving adventures had to be cut short due to some physical disabilities.  Who thought that having small ears and small ear pathways is a bad thing? it’s like being discriminated because some tubes in your head are not wide or long or big enough to comfortably dive and equalize properly.

I wasn’t eaten by a shark and did not drown but I did end up bleeding through my nose and was deaf for two days after 2 deep dives (1 hr each).  So, instead of doing a night dive to watch Manta rays feed tonight, I am spending my precious time hoping there was sun out there to fry my behind.

Regardless the sea sickness and air pressure problems, I did have an amazing experience. Breathing underneath the water, 60 feet deep, seeing turtles just swimming by and wondering what those dorks are staring at, watching spinner dolphins playfully dive around , avoiding yellow magic moray, and admiring coral, spotted toby fish, and watching triton trumpet shell eating crown of thorn star fish (the photo) – isn’t that worthy some  pain and blood?

Scuba Diving – Day 1

Hawaii…here we are.  Four and a half days of captivity on the Big Island. I am still alive. I survived the first day of scuba diving. Yes, you heard it right, the emphasis goes on “survived”. Not enough that I almost drowned in a chlorine pool certifying prior to the trip, I shed a few years off my precious life in the ocean today. And, yes, I am going back tomorrow for the second part.

Turns out – I get sea sick in a very funny way – not by sitting on the rocking boat but by clogging my ears and then drifting. Apparently, you can get sea sick diving. My ears clog easily and it takes a few hours on the ground to get them unclogged. Why is it a big deal? Well, because you might as well not eat before diving…

I am trying to dive down to 20 feet not understanding why I am having symptoms of a full blown panic attack without having a panic attack. Maybe..just maybe…I am going out on a limb here making an assumption that trying not to let your breakfast come out through the only air source you have could be a challenge….Let’s move on…

Seeing turtles swimming by like you are a part of the corral and big fish stopping by to peak at you as you probably look funny with those goggles on – is priceless. Being able to breath underneath the water is one of the coolest things ever.

Hopefully, day two will be a bit better day as I am ready – in one hand I have a brand new snorkel that doesn’t let water in and in the other hand I have my new best friend motion sickness pill. It better work as losing breakfast two days in a row is not what I would call a dream come true scuba diving experience.

It should be an interesting day as I heard today that there was a shark attack yesterday. The shark decided to take a bite out of a Stand Up Paddler’s board.  Luckily, the lady managed to reach the shore before the grey fluffy took a bite out of her. Exciting, you think! Not when it is after you…

Getting Ready for Hawaii

Getting ready for Hawaii is not fun. You think that all you need is shorts, sandals and a good attitude? Oh, hell now. That’s what I thought. Well, apparently it can be nice and sunny in one place but around the corner it rains, blows and kills with dark clouds.

I was advised to pack my winter jacket in case if I wanted to star gaze. Who is saying words like that when you are ready to run around half naked with a snorkel in your mouth and a blown up swan swimming ring around your waist?

I had a day dream – Me, jumping on solid smooth lava bumps like a little girl getting closer to a live volcano, feeling a slight warm breeze caressing my face, and watching a flow of uniformed, breath taking stream of melted rocks fall into ocean making a hissing sound as it cools down and evaporates.

 …And like a cold shower, slap, one of the websites suggests: bring boots or hiking shoes, thick gloves, a hat and thicker pants…I am not sure if that was written by a scared, sensitive, over reacting man or I actually should consider bringing all that but it smacked my imagination into a dirty puddle of ugly expectations.

 So, before I leave for Hawaii I need to pack my winter gear..weird…

 

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