After a days rest, we headed off in to the countryside in search of an authentic celebration. In response an earlier blog somebody recommended that we go to a farm called Gulbi which is about 2.5 hrs from Riga in the general direction of Daugavpils, in the Latgale region. Now I say 2.5hrs but if you have to stop to pick up flowers it takes 4hrs. Now 9 is a magic number and Inta was told we had to pick 27 different types of flowers: One bunch of 9 for yourself, one for your loved ones and one for your country. I daren’t look at the condition of my tyres after lots of sudden steps. To give you an idea how remote this farm is, the last 40 km were on gravel roads not asphalt.
We finally arrived at about 2.00 pm to be greeted by Rita the lady of the house, whose burning passion is to convince people to move back in to the countryside. We were informed that due to the bad weather numbers were going to be down on previous years; in fact there was just going to be Inta and I and her extended family. I didn’t realise the implications of this until later in the evening. One of our first steps was to visit the kitchen where Rita was eager for us to taste her version of balsam. Made with about 30 different types of herbs and flowers and surgical spirits, is was loti garsigs (very tasty) and very warming.
The first activity was to collect flowers from the flower meadows so the ladies could make crowns with them. Whilst this was happening we were followed around the fields being retailed by a accordionist and his singing partner. I had to collect some flowers of my own, didn’t know why. Just told to collect some and all would be revealed later. Now I’m not sure why any of this was happening so any help would be appreciated.
Over the next couple of hours we did some eating and drinking and it was now I realised the significance of being the only non family members at the event. Everytime a family member went round pouring shots of the homemade stuff, I was always offered a shot. Now not wanting to upset local sensitivities I obviously accepted. However I started to realise that unless I could figure out a way to say, I’d had enough, I wasn’t going to make it through the night. This is where Inta stepped in and explained I was a lightweight when it comes to spirit consumption and I wasn’t asked any more. I’m sure there were a few more sniggers behind my back though.
Well after dancing round a couple of bonfires, dancing with a witch,. Trying to recite some Latvian poetry and eating and drinking a little more we finally headed to bed about 2:30 am. Didn’t make it until sunrise unfortunately. No bed just happened to be the back of my Vauxhall Vectra Estate. It didn’t matter though because I was too exhausted to worry about comfort. I fell to sleep trying to forget that I was now a lightweight when it cam to alcohol consumption and all night partying.
Check out the pictures I took by clicking here.