A year is definitely a long chunk of time. Sometimes it passes smoothly, sometimes time seems to stop and just drags along. In such cases you seem like giving up and wanting to disappear altogether. Sometimes on contrary you are doing and doing something, but it seems to you that you are invisible and nobody is interested. Therefore at the end of a year it is recommended to stop and draw a line, just to think over what you have done and where you are at the point. Of course, you keep in mind your big goal, but at this age you also know that this something big is impossible to reach as quickly as you want. It is a hard work, which can be accomplished by small, very small steps, and you just need this stop to think everything over . I think that upcoming Christmas and a New Year Eve is a proper occasion to check out what is accomplished and what not during the year. I think about my life as a travel, and at my age I have understood that my travels can be not only through space, but also through time. It is interesting, in time you can travel back and forth, and then you can revert to present. Travel in time is more about expanding your mind and consciousness. Sometimes it seems that I am not moving forward, sometimes it seems that I am not moving at all. And if I am moving, do I move any nearer to my goal? So let’s stop and see. First thing first, to get traveling at all you need to do something to earn some money. Right? As I am translator, I do translations all the time. At the moment I am stuck with fiction, but also with good fiction. I have done three books, and they all are worth reading. So I can recommend them to you as well. I have to mention “In Falling Snow” by Mary-Rose MacColl. The story unfolds during the Secong World war and in contemporary Australia. It is a beautiful story about wartime and women’s role in it and in nowadays it tells about the complicated role of a woman in medicine and as a mother. You can reed many reviews on Google, but it really gives something new or just forgotten to think about.
The second novel is “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Cline and also tells the story of long past about the regular train passing from New York to Midlands and carrying orphans for adoption, but most often as a cheap labour for farmers, businessmen etc. The story about this forgotten history is nicely intertwined with story of Molly, a seventeen years old teenager of North Indian background. Very moving, nice, and with happy ending.
Both these books are very emotional, moving and at the same time informative: in both of them one of the main characters is a 90 years old woman, who tells the story through her memories, But interesting, how almost century old issues are still live in modern times. The third book which I translated (from English to Latvian, that”s it) is The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul about which I already posted https://travelingaround50.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/deborah-rodriguez-and-the-little-caffee-shop-in-kabul/
This far, this good. But this is not all I did this year. As an older woman I am paying attention to all this modern advice about how not to let your brain become weaker with aging. Advice is to keep learning all your life. This is for me. I like to learn, and the only regret is that life does not become slower with age. Rather the other way round. But that depends of course. Bur OK, I took two classes in spring, one about Architecture of Riga, the other about religions in Riga. One of reasons was also an insight that we often want to travel faraway places, but don’t know beautiful places at home, not only places, but also other things, like architecture, sacral architecture among them. Also these classes were accompanied with excursions. So I visited for the first time the prayer house of the Old Believers or staroveri, or staroobryadci in Russian. I have mentioned about it here
The second trip was to the only synagogue in Riga in contradistinction to 27 in 30-ties of the last century, and it is said that this synagogue was saved only because it was next to the church of Lutheran reformers. Now there are no hindrances to set up other synagogues, but the guide said that they are having smaller prayer houses and the congregation during these years has considerably diminished, so there is no point for another big synagogue. But anyway, I had never been in a synagogue. It’s restoration was partly funded by EU money, and also by donations of the flock. I noticed that these people are very attentive to their donors, whose names were marked in many places. Here are some photos. I liked the ascetic, but at the same time elegant style, it’s colour code and layout. Now I have to bring my apologies since I cannot find my pictures of the synagogue. But don’t worry. Here is a short video from you tube picturing the same place.
What these classes and excursions gave me? First, at one brief moment I thought that it would be great to make my own city tours and be a touristic guide, bet then I abandoned this and gave up on this for all these certificates and bureaucratic requirements we need now as being in the “civilized” world now. No, I am too old for these tricks. And guiding tours actually is not my priority. Maybe later.
What I did next in this spring? I moved a bit forward and took Spanish classes. And again – Spanish is needed for my travel, and I don’t want to be a mere tourist in Spanish speaking country, who doesn’t understand anything what locals are saying. I really strive for full immersion and that means at least three months in one country. I don’t understand the new trend – people seem to try to cover as many places as possible in possibly shortest time, and then they say: I’ve been to 50, 100 countries etc., but what have you seen in these countries – the most popular touristic attractions. But boy, why you have to go to that country then – there are lot of photos and travel articles in bookstores and on internet, but is it the real thing? And it seems that travel writers of this kind get the most popularity. Can we relate it to lack of time in our lives? Or lack of deeper interest?
So I took Spanish classes and accomplished levels A1 and A2. Still I was not satisfied. Is it enough to get around in a country, where nobody speaks any other language, but Spanish? And so follows my travel in space now.
Just to check it I went to Alicante, Spain, solo of course, and attended a summer school there. And it boosted my confidence, really, with all my scraps of Spanish I could get all I needed, explain all I needed, get directions when got lost, and ask for all I wanted. I want more of course, it’s not enough to know language. I’ve always been surprised, when people who know even less say with confidence that they know a language. So I already applied for classes, hopefully I will be assigned the next level, and I think also about the centre where I learned this spring. So it will make four days of Spanish per week. I really hope to improve.
In October I needed a break again. I was asked to go to London and after some consideration of pro and contra and finding some justification, I did it. But more about London on next post. You can reed about this travel on my previous posts.
Back to Riga I started translation of a new book and refurbishment of my flat. We speak about downsizing – again a modern trend. But about that too later. Now let’s close account: 1) 3 books, 2) 3 classes 3) trip and summer school at Alicante 4) trip to London, 5) refurbishment. No, it’s not so bad. There is some forward movement, too, if wee look closer 🙂