Thank, thank you, thank you. What a crazy 10 days it’s been. I’m plodding along getting my usual 20-50 views per day when I wake up last Thursday to check if any comments need approving or replying to. What I find I is that I’ve had over 200 views over night. I go to work feeling just slightly elated and spend the day watching the number of views increasing rapidly. By the time my head hits the pillow I’ve had over 2000 views. I wake up in the morning to find that I totalled 2361 views for Thursday and I was already over 4000 views for Friday. To cut a long story short I received just under 17000 views on Friday and a peak of 18503 views on Saturday. I am truly gobsmacked (an English term meaning amazed), that so many people wanted to read about my experiences in Latvia. It really motivates me to keep writing. There has been a downside to this seismic event. I have been so busy reading your comments and replying that I have got behind recording my experiences, so let’s try and catch up.
Last week was my busiest working week so far. Worked 4 days!!!!!!!!! Nothing very eventful happened so I’ll move on. Picked up my Latvijas Republika – Personas Aplieciba (identity card) so I’m now a legal resident of Latvia. Met with the vendors of the house we are hoping to buy last week and I thought everything was going well. The big difference between buying a house here and in the UK is that there is a much more hands on approach by the buyer and seller. That’s ok if the buyer and seller know what they are doing. The problem is I don’t speak or read Latvian and don’t the system or buying a house. The other problem is I don’t think the seller really understands the system either. To make matters more complicated, when you sell a house in Latvia you are actually selling two things; the property and the “equipment” in the property. The Latvian government taxes the seller 15% on the capital gain of the property part of the deal. So sellers try and inflate the equipment part of the transaction to minimise their tax liability. That is ok for purchaser if they know they are going to own the property for 5 years and live in it for 12 months before they sell. We plan to stay here for the foreseeable future, but who can see the future? So this is just another part of a process that is largely built on trust. In the Uk nobody trusts anyone when it comes to money so lawyers handle everything, and there is a set procedure to follow which includes filling in copious numbers of documents which worm part of the sale contract. This element of trust seems to permeate Latvian society and the attitude seems to be that if you think positively everything will be fine. I hope the vendors of the house are not getting frustrated with my anxiety over the sale contract and my worry about money. But when you get to my age and you are putting a significant amount of your hard earned cash into a new venture then I think I have every right to be cautious.
I came across this positive thinking attitude again this week when buying a new car. I had decided to buy a Toyota RAV4. I was advised that it would be great for Latvian country roads in the winter, but having decided I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. Eventually I was put in contact with somebody who brings cars from Germany. He very quickly found a number of models which met my requirements at a German Toyota dealership. So we made a decision, transferred our hard earned money to Germany and emailed a document to the dealership so that our Latvian contact would be able to collect the car. It then occurred to me to ask about insurance of the car whilst it is being transported from Germany. His response was “don’t worry, think positively, I’ve done this loads of times”!. What do you mean don’t worry, it’s my money not yours. In reality this trusting, positive thinking, although naïve is really a breath of fresh air. Long may it last. Perhaps I’m morphing into a Latvian. I’ve done two things this week I would never have done in the UK: bought a car without seeing it and insuring it. Oh well, when in Rome do as the Romans do, I believe is the saying.
We spent Saturday in Dobele at Inta’s cousin’s house and I’m proud to announce that I’m no longer a pēršana (beating with a birch tree branches in a sauna) virgin. It was really quite exhilarating. I could smell the birch branches as they wizzed through the air in the sauna, before descending onto my back with a controllede wack, delivered by my amiable host Māris. The day was spent eating shashlik, having numerous sessions in the sauna and jumping into a very cold river. Not sure about the river but the sauna, pēršana, shashlik were fantastic. As a bonus I was given a 40 year old Russian spade so I can plant some vegetables when we have our own house.