Sorry this post is later than usual but have had a very busy weekend planning and celebrating Inta’s birthday. I won’t say which one as it’s a lady’s prerogative to disclose her age.
Last week started off with a bang, literally. I decided to get into work early because I had some unfinished problems to solve from the previous Friday. Got to school about 7.15 am, still really thinking I was at my last school where teachers started arriving at 6.00 am, just as the heavens opened up and there was the heaviest thunderstorm I had experienced for many years. Waiting in the car for a few minutes until a pause in the rain, I could see with relief that the lights in school were on. There was a slight break in the rain so I dashed to the front doors only to find them locked. I then remembered I had been given a magnetic key card which opened the doors. Made my way to the office and just as I put my hand on the door handle, yes you guessed right, the security alarm went off. Having no means to set the alarm I had to sit in reception, like a naughty schoolboy, waiting for someone to come a reset the alarm. Embarrassing to say the least and I was lucky that a teacher arrived before 2 armed burly Latvian policemen did.
Interesting Monday in school covering for an absent ESOL teacher (EAL in the UK). All the classes were in the age group 6 -10 years old. Quickly learned that secondary/high school behaviour management strategies don’t work with Russian and Kazakhstani 7 year olds whose grasp of English is limited. I somehow got through the day without having had any student meltdowns. Wednesday was also very interesting, as I had to drag from the depths of my unused memory, my rusty knowledge of the French Language. A wide age range of classes, was on the agenda for the day from 7 year olds right up to 17 year olds, albeit a small class of 3. It was amazing how quickly common questions and phrases such as “comment t’appelle tu” and “quel age as tu” came flooding back and enabled me to survive the day. After Friday I’m becoming slightly concerned about my new colleagues’ expectations of me. Just because I’ve fixed a few computers, fairly quickly I might add, they think I’m some sort of IT guru. I daresay that in the near future they will discover exactly what my skill set is, but in the meantime I’ll enjoy bathing in their adoration and learning lots of new techie stuff.
Out of school, life continues at a frenetic pace. Finally managed to open a bank account, transfer my funds from the UK and get a bank card. I had to visit the bank so often that it feels like the 3 ladies who work in customer service their have become my best friends and we are attending language classes together. Me trying to learn Latvian and them English. It’s been stressful but fun at the same time. Also managed to register as a resident, and with the help of a couple of very helpful ladies will be collecting my residency/id card today, 2 weeks ahead of schedule. Inta suggested buying them flowers as a thank you gesture. Not so sure about that, don’t know how big their husbands are. House buying is progressing at a snail’s pace at the moment. There’s more of a do it yourself feel about transferring house titles here, and there doesn’t appear to be the over the top searches done by the legal profession. More seems to be done on trust. All you have to do is make sure there are no loans or bad debts attached to the property and I think everything will be ok. As I said previously we are buying a house from an artist/photographer and her husband. She has just had a baby and I think dealing with a house sale, looking after a new baby and her 5 year old son is proving logistically difficult, so I will just have to be patient.
Party season started this weekend in Riga. A huge beer festival in Vērmanes Park in the centre of Riga and a Summer celebration street party on Miera Iela.
The Latvians really do know how to party. Both events had lots of live entertainment and in the park there were only 150 types of beer. So book your holidays now for this weekend next year, you won’t be disappointed. Barbecue season started on Sunday whilst celebrating Inta’s birthday with some friends and family. It was strange not having our UK family with us but Inta was able to share her birthday with some friends who haven’t shared her birthday for over 10 years. There was lots of pork and chicken shashlik (shish kebabs in the UK), moderate amounts of alcohol and the obligatory cake. One new addition to the barbecue was pike (lidaka in Latvian). Why do we not eat these in the UK, they were rather tasty. In fact in the UK we don’t seem to eat any lake fish. I wonder why?
I feel rather at home here in Latvia. The food is similar to the northern diet of black peas, black puddings and pigs trotters whilst the people are straight forward and tell you how it is. So make sure you don’t ask a Latvian, when you meet them, how they are. They will not out of a sense of politeness tell you they are fine, when they are not. Some I know, think that Latvians are rude, because you can walk past people and no-one will say Labrit (good morning) or labdien (good day). I don’t know why this is, possibly after 50 years of being spied upon by the KGB has made them suspicious, but at social gatherings I have found then to be humorous, friendly and extremely helpful. Long may this continue
Hopefully by this time next week contracts for the house will have been written up and we will have bought a new car. I look forward to telling you all about it next week.