I cried today when we crossed my last border from Latvia into Estonia. I couldn’t easily
tell you why. It was mostly a feeling of exuberant accomplishment. I cycled from Portugal to Estonia. If you told me two years ago that I would do something like that I would have fallen down in a fit of hysterical laughter. I was also a bit sad that the sign we were standing under would be my last. Those blue signs with yellow stars and the name of a new country had been such a source of joy for me on this trip.
As our day of cycling came to end, all I could think, though, was that I was so relieved this trip was nearly over. Today we cycled more than 100km. I’m tired. I was very tired of cycling every day just before my husband joined me twelve days ago. But his arrival gave me a second wind. That second wind lasted about eleven days. Now it’s gone. I’m still enjoying the trip immensely. But I’m ready for its end. I’m glad I feel this way. Perhaps it will make leaving this wonderful journey behind me and going home a little bit easier.
Latvia and Estonia are both such beautiful countries. They are going to end up being
among my favorite from the countries I’ve passed through in the past two months. After we cycled across the border into Estonia we immediately got onto a back road that took us along the coast of the Baltic Sea on our left with woodlands of birches and firs on our right. I wish you could record smell. I would have recorded the smell of Estonia for you. It is so fresh and fragrant. We passed through tiny little ten-house villages on the sea. They weren’t rich people’s villas. They were small middle class homes just standing there with the sea in their front yard and the forest in their backyard. I couldn’t believe there was still beach-side land anywhere on this earth that hadn’t been overtaken by developers and the rich. Children were walking all alone along the quiet road. It must be a safe place, I thought. This must be such a great place to spend a childhood.
We’re camping tonight a few kilometers outside of Paarnu, which the campsite owner tells us is a popular beach town for Estonians. Had we known that, we probably would have looked for a camp closer to the sea. This camp is completely empty, almost. It doesn’t compare in the slightest to our campsite last night. It has toilets, showers, Internet, and grass for us to pitch our tent. But it doesn’t have the one thing I have learned makes a very large difference to me when available: a restaurant. I had anticipated it might not have a restaurant so we ate a big lunch when we reached Paarnu. Colin went back into town when we got to camp to get us some snacks. And the camp owner said he’ll make us breakfast in the morning. So I really can’t complain. If not for the teenage sons of the camp owner walking around in their underwear. If there is anything more European than that, you tell me what it is. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they were all in shorts or in nice-looking underwear. Nope. Drab, dangly, cotton briefs. It’s not pretty. Not pretty at all.
I’ve started trying to think about the things I may have learned or gained from this trip. Today I was thinking:
1. I gave myself an exceptional albeit realistic challenge.
2. I accepted that challenge.
3. With much perseverance and determination I saw that challenge to its successful end.
That makes me very proud of myself. It tells me something about myself that I have
long known: If I really want to do something, I find a way to make it happen.
But it also shows me there is a formula to success. I plan on remembering that formula. It looks easy when written in words. It’s not in reality. It looks logical and common sense. But we don’t always see the common sense when we’re in the midst of life. Now that I’ve written it down, I plan on coming back here every now and then to remind myself of it.
Countdown to Tallinn: Two cycling days left.