Finding my edges in Latvia.
Last year I radically purged my life and chose to travel indefinitely because I want to find my edges. I want to question them and challenge them. Then I want to push past them.
My solo trip around the world is motivated by an obsession to redefine what I think is possible, what I think I’m capable of. So I've decided to go full Hemingway. I'm spending three frozen months in the isolated Latvian countryside in an off-grid house. Seems like that’ll do the trick.
There’s no shower in the home and no indoor plumbing for the toilet. There is a well outside for water and a wood-burning stove. There's also WiFi, because even eco hippies need to send an email or two. I'm told there's a market in the village 3.5 km away, and a restaurant in the manor house in that same village. I'm sharing the home with Velta, the homeowner's grandmother who stayed put after they moved away. Velta The Babushka was described to me as "a woman of communist Russia who can teach something about longevity and toughness." She will in fact teach me - through gestures and facial expressions as she doesn't speak English and I don't speak Russian - how to operate the manual toilet, chip frozen water out of the well, navigate a rural bus system that uses only the Russian language, and hopefully...how to cook a Latvian meal or two. I'm completely in love with her already.
To reach this housesitting assignment* I’ll fly from Salt Lake to New York to Moscow to Riga, arriving two days later. After a three-hour bus ride to the town of Kuldiga, I'll navigate to the village of Skrunda on the local bus system. Alternatively, I was told to look for The Taxi Driver at The Bus Stop. According to the homeowners “he notices a foreigner with a bag and you won’t have to tell him where to go, he will tell you. There is only one place you would be going to. He doesn’t know us, it's just a lot of foreigners come to our door.” Seems legit.
It was this blurb in the homeowner's profile that made my soul jump: “This would be a great place to come for anyone thinking about trying this kind of lifestyle – living with a bit less, taking from the land, and generally trying to enjoy life in a slower and nicer way. It would be really great if we could find someone, another digger and dreamer, who wants to live here pretty long term.” They talk of the old Russian sewing machine upstairs hidden among piles of scrap fabric, the makeshift greenhouse and scattered garden plots, art supplies I'm welcome to experiment with, and how they hope people will build sculptures of rock and wood around the property. They sign their emails "With love and light..." and sent a message wishing me a happy solstice.
As romantic and adventurous as all of this sounds, flashback to when I thought the squat toilets in Indonesia were the ultimate boundary buster. Living off the grid a solid 3.5 km outside of Skrunda, Latvia does seem like next-level intensity. It will be difficult and cold and beautiful and scary and peaceful and physically demanding and healing. I can't wait. I kinda wish I was leaving tomorrow.
Stay tuned. I plan to write an on-going series of posts about my time in Latvia. Let's be honest, I'd love to write a whole book and perhaps will some day.
Love + edges,
* P.S. I'm using the website Mind My House to search for assignments.