Mežezers to Ērgļi
31km [192km]; 6 hours 30 minutes
Dinner-time at Ērgļi. I arrived at 13:45 having left Mežezers at 07:15. No one was stirring and I had to use the fire escape to get out. It was a magical morning, sunny but crisp. Last night I talked with the manager[?], Imants, about the short cut across the top of the lake to join up with the Plaviņas to Ērgļi road.
The short cut was perfect – and Imants' description gave me the confidence to keep going. A couple of km of shady forest track. Imants and I talked of other things as well. In English – most younger Latvians have learnt at school.
Imants is a snowboard instructor having gained his skills on the Dāmu Paradīze run, which Mark will remember from Gaiziņkalns. Imants has snowboarded in a large number of countries including America and Austria, but also Georgia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania. I am sure that any of those places would have more appeal than Mežezers. Though perhaps with a covering of snow it would be different – a deep covering.
I have had my second Frikadeļu soup of the day – I had one when I arrived. A traditional broth with vegetables, barley and mini meatballs. Followed tonight by fried fish and chips, though I was hoping for real potatoes. I was asked, but I just nodded. I have had very attentive service – I am the only customer. I drew the line at the television. It was turned on very loudly behind me and tuned to the BBC news. When it was suggested that I turn around and watch it while I eat, I had to insist that I disliked television at all times – it was then turned off. I thought also that I might hear some unpleasant sports news – though I am sure Juris [born in northern England before traveling to Oak Park, Victoria to marry Selga and coming to live with their two daughters in independent Latvia over 10 years ago] will tell me.
I have finished off with fruit and ice cream – bright orange in colour and with an unrecognisable taste. I was asked about breakfast. I said I didn't eat meat so we have settled on an omelette which will be ideal, though I will have to wait till 8am which will mean a late start.
I went for a walk around Ērgļi this afternoon. Saw the very flash new hotel I could have stayed at, but this way I am confident that some Latvians will benefit from my tourist lati [the local currency]. I also went to the cemetery and saw the grave of Rūdolfs Blaumanis [very famous Latvian writer and playwright]. The cemeteries are invariably beautiful parks with mature trees, the graves lovingly tended. So the photo of the Ērgļi cemetery is for you Christina.
Thank you for all who have written. Juris has apparently solved the problem which has made it difficult to log a comment on the blog.
Jāna [again], Dan, Mark, Jānis [who I am still hoping will walk with me], Fran [always an enthusiastic supporter], Des [who I had hoped might be provoked by the mention of Steven Carroll], Ruta [whose request will be acted upon], my Mežaparks neighbour Eva whom I last saw at the Melbourne Recital Centre playing first violin with Kremerata Baltica, Ian [the fix-it man wanting to do work stuff] and Susan, like me married into the Latvian world, with Pēteris [whose Latvian School geography class 'sponsored' my walk across Latvia last year]. And Clare who is in Vancouver and has just completed the GWT [Great West Track]. She sent me the link to her photos, which are great, though when after 10 minutes I was still on day 2, I thought I was in for a long viewing. But day 3 was the finish. And Michelle who is in Saudi Arabia, and sent a very newsy letter and will be interested to hear that Gunārs and Ilze are in Latvia at the moment. And Sue, my occasional rogaining partner, and wife of Colin who completed the Australian Alps Walking Track with me in 2005. Clare, Michelle and Sue & Colin [and Christina &Chris] were most of the very select, surprise 60th birthday party Anita organised for me two years ago. I hope I haven't forgotten anyone.
Today, once I hit the Ērgļi road it was 28km straight on. The first half was bitumen though the verges were OK to walk on and the traffic infrequent – at times 10-15 minutes between cars. The road was later gravel – the loose white dusty gravel which is hard to walk on as it shifts under your feet. And the dust; on one occasion after a logging truck passed it took 20-30 seconds for the dust to clear.
Tomorrow I will stay with Gunta at her place near Zaube and replenish my maps and other necessities. I will pass through Līčupe [where Lija had her Summer Camp last year and I called by on my walk for her last night concert – this year she is at Mazsalaca and I will attend her last night concert immediately after finishing the walk on the Estonian border about 30km north of Mazsalaca].
So tomorrow, from Līčupe to Zaube will be the only overlap with the walk last year. I hope to walk along the now-closed railway line from Ērgļi to Taurupe. This afternoon I had a look at the start of the track near the old Ērgļi station – it seems quite overgrown. I hope it is better further on. There is always the road but it is longer and I have been looking forward to the train tracks.
I try not to think too much about the day after. The walk to Cēsis from Zaube will be about 45-50km. It will be the thought of finishing up at Selga's and Juris' place that will keep me going – into the night if necessary. But let's not worry beyond tomorrow for the moment.