Labas!

I have now been in Lithuania for a few days.

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I keep a small travel notebook, here’s a first extract:

I choose to inaugurate this notebook marked by the friendship I feel towards the person who gave it to me, on a beautiful summer afternoon, in a lovely park of Vilnius.

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It’s been almost a week that I have left my country and I must admit to not having the necessary hindsight to put some orders in my ideas and emotions. Mind you, the last few days were anything but a rest. I cherish the moments spent in company of my brother that reminded me the immense affection I have for him. He seems happy, surrounded by all those people who love him and that he loves, and that fills me with joy. However, despite feeling at home at their place, that life isn’t mine, in the moment to leave them arrived quicker than I would have wished for. It is now time to follow my own path, wherever it brings me.

I was welcomed magnificently by my Lithuanian friends. Nevertheless, the feelings that are going through me are a bit confused. Maybe it’s the fact that their company reminds me of that misadventure in Morocco which, I must admit, marked me far more than I would have like, or maybe it is the reality of what I jumped into that is starting to kick in; the fact is, the feeling that was with me when I woke up could have been interpreted as disarray. I am not too worried, because I know that such states of mind are completely normal in such a situation. Moreover, wandering through the capital changed took my mind off things, the city is kind of small but very enjoyable.

 

The numerous parks of the city give it a warmer feel than some big cities.

I also learn about its history, the history of the country, for example about the big human chain that extended from Vilnius to Tallin, a bit more than 20 years ago, and that represented the baltic countries inhabitants’ desire of independence. I found it inspiring. Simonas and Margarita also teach me a lot about their country (I have to say, my curiosity pushes me to ask them loads of questions) and I am starting to forge myself an impression of their culture, their customs and their history. They also prepared local specialities for me!

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The first day, they took me to see a magical place, outside of the city, where nature lives next to remains of a history marked by pagan, followed by catholic traditions.

 

I was also surprised by their description of poverty in their country, of which we don’t speak much that is nevertheless very present, consequence of decades of belonging to the soviet regime. I thus learned that the minimum salary here is more or less 300 euros, and that it is not rare at all to not earn much more than that. Most of people navigate between their jobs and other activities that allow them to make ends meet. Needless to say that such conditions don’t allow to put much money aside for personal project. This doesn’t keep my friends from showing me a touching generosity, and all of this inspires feelings of injustice and gratitude at the same time, to come from a country such as mine. I also appreciate the kindness of Lithuanians who, despite what some people who never even set foot here had tried to convince me of, are for the most part incredible friendly and helpful.

Just a few hours ago, I met on my way a funny procession, of people belonging to the ‘Hare Krishna’ movement.

A European man dressed with Indian-monk style clothes came to explain to me that those people were singing a mantra supposed to communicate joy. Suspicious at first, thinking he was only looking to convert me to his sect, I quickly changed my mind and we had a very interesting conversation about the motives that had brought him there. I left him with a smile on my face, thanking him inwardly for having reminded me, without even wanting it, of one of the reasons why I started this trip: the people you meet. (Don’t worry, I didn’t convert myself to the Hare Krishna movement.)

The following day, I went to visit the famous castle that sits on a small island in Trakai, the one that’s on every postcard. When I came off the bus, I met a chemistry professor retired from an Austrian University, that was going to the same place. We ended up spending the day together. It was quite unexpected and unusual, but really nice!

 

I also visited an old KGB prison in Vilnius. I never know what to think about those kinds of places; it’s important to remember, to never forget what happened in order to avoid history repeating itself, but the idea of doing tourism on the death and suffering of thousands of people bothers me. The atmosphere was very heavy there, that place really marked me.

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I had the occasion to see an art gallery:

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I also tested the panoramic mode of my camera, with a pretty cool result!

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That’s it for Vilnius! I am now in Kaunas, in a lovely backpacker’s, I made awesome encounters, everything’s good! I am leaving tomorrow to spend a week in the North. We’ll see what the result is, I will let you know!

See you! <3

 

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