Thoughts about my country Lithuania

I visited my country this December – not the best time for visits weather wise. First of all it is a risk to get your flights delayed, for the weather conditions happen to be bad on both sides of the ocean. But I was lucky in that sense. Just skipped in between storms, of course not with some spoiled nerve cells. So unless you really need to – try not to fly in winter. Also – it is not the biggest pleasure to enjoy Lithuanian nature in winter, too. It may be very beautiful, especially if it snows, no wind and the trees get covered with the white fluffy stuff. But have in mind – the roads are not being very well cleaned, all the rides are risky those days. To tell the truth – nobody cares…that is what scared me most. People got decieved by politicians, by city officials so many times that they don’t pay attention any more. And maybe they are right – either you change the circumstances that you don’t like or you ignore them if you feel helpless. Most of them do try to enjoy what they can control and ignore the rest to the extent that Lithuania is now among African countries counting the lowest participation in political election events…It is sad, very sad. But what can they do – each time they elect as it seems good honest people to their parliament – every time they start “rotting” there, by which I mean not showing up to the sessions, accepting bribes, making nice trips abroad to foreign countries for public money and caring only about themselves and their families as if the rest of the population is of second sort… As a good example – two years ago an election for?? president was held. A popular guy from TV humor?? “Dviraciu” show, an analog of Jay Leno here in the States, decided to run. He said I have the money, but I don’t have any program, any platform, don’t care, just am doing it as a joke and I expect no more that one person to vote for me. At least he was honest. So how many votes did he get??? He got 7%, and that is very very sad.

I didn’t take my camera this time because the weather is usually very dark, rainy, with very occasional sun showing itself by the horizon. So sorry – no pictures…I also didn’t plan to travel, just to visit my friends and family. Which was very nice, people still have this warmth not spoiled from the hardships of the evolving capitalism. Our people are very hospitable, creative and dilligent. Again -this is?? my impression, everyone may have their opinions…And as we all know – everyone’s experiences differ. Mine were really good, I can only be grateful I am friends with so many admirable Lithuanians. I love them dearly and therefore am not happy that the government is so corrupted and that they don’t care about our citizens at all. It seems only the journalists are pushing the truth out of the bureaucrats’ chambers, but very often they are called liars and their rights are getting limited. There was this article in the newspaper – couple of years ago the then mayor of Vilnius made arrangements of spending the capital’s 6.5 m LTL by giving it to an American Lithuanian – Fluxus person Jonas Mekas to pay for his collection of avant-garde movies…as if in the times of economic hardships it is the thing that Lithuania needs most. By definition?? a piece is considered avant-garde “if it causes a circular reasoning that causes a great deal of general confusion”. Maybe that is the catch – they want general public to be more confused than they are already now… 🙂 I am more than sure that by their own intention maybe one person and three specialists would watch those movies filmed with a moving camera?? (very irritable for my eyes personally), but definitely no more…But the city will pay. And guess what – I believe that this is one of the popular ways of taking money from the budget and dividing among themselves. Sorry guys, but my opinion comes from observing life there, reading the news and doing some thinking… Why then and who could explain in what ways several people in Lithuania got so extremely rich in such a short time, buying islands, yachts and villas in exotic countries not being some extraordinary talants and having in mind that the country is free from Russia’s occupation and their version of socialism for only 18 years? While the others are struggling to get ends meet, paying for utilities and food, and they have worked honestly all their lives or work now full time.

At the time they were discussing the millions going to the US for the movies, the weather played a joke, or maybe it wasn’t a joke, it just stayed normal – because this happens every year. It started raining and freezing to the extent that all the pavements and streets were covered with beautiful shiny ice. As far as I remember even in Soviet times it was a normal practice to spray some salt on the sideways during those conditions so that people could walk and not break themselves. But no, Lithuanian cities didn’t have money, especially Vilnius. No, that was not included in the budget, as if Vilnius was located in Florida, as if a sudden freezing rain is something that never happens here… So people were falling down every day of those 3 dangerous days and breaking everything they could, getting concussions, etc. The hospitals were filled and overfilled, doctors talked on TV explaining in detail the costs of each type of broken bones, starting form hip bones ending with arms and legs, the costs of people missing their jobs was discussed, but no, no changes in the budget, no money for salt. The municipalities just don’t care. Of bigger importance is to have those crazy (sorry specialists) movies and getting the?? public trained intellectually which they can’t do by themselves, whereas if they are sick and have broken bones?? – so what, they will heal without government’s interruption. And people don’t complain about that, they think it is normal, which is not a good sign in a country striving to be a prosperous democracy.

And guess what happened during the New Year ? (I was away by that time but I read in the newspaper) The same capital, Vilnius, had enough millions to pay for the firework and laser show! And who did this money go to??? No, not to some creative Lithuanian artist, but to a German! I have nothing against Germans, God forbid?? -I like them a lot as much as every other nationality, but in those hard economic times why not to help some struggling local artists instead of a foreigner and gathering all the enormous, hungry for impressions crowds, with the inconvenience of traffic jams, etc.?? and giving them nothing that at least would reach their expectations (based on my acquaintances’ descriptions who saw it)… So it goes, as Kurt’s hero Bill the Pilgrim said in bombed Dresden…

And it goes not so bad in peoples lives who have jobs they enjoy. Still everyone makes their homes cozy and nice whatever the means they have and life is turning better little by little, can’t even be compared to the one we had during Soviet times. Except, life was not as busy then and we had more time for interaction, for jokes. By this I don’t even want to compare or analyze this complicated issue, I just want to mention a thought that struck – even in the worst times people find their ways to be happier, even in wars, which makes them survivors. It is the law of Nature…

The biggest event in Lithuanian culture this autumn I would dare to say was?? “Arc De Triumph” – a competition of opera singers. It was beautiful, they would broadcast it every Saturday and the streets would be quiet dead because almost everyone was glued to their TV screens from 9 to 11 pm. And if you met an acquaintance in the street?? – you could bravely start conversation about the last program, about who the best singer was, how he or she performed that specific aria or sang those high or low tones. Everyone liked it and had opinions about who was their favourite. Listening to classical singing is really a big pleasure, I miss it here a lot. We get only one opera per year which is performed in St. George usually in February by Teatro Lyrico d’Europa.

Other than that I didn’t have time to visit more theaters or concerts, I spent a couple of days in Druskininkai for the pleasure of using the waterparks and seeing the quiet, clean, tidy and very beautiful resort city tucked in the most attractive forests Lithuania has. It consists of mostly hotels and spa’s, not too many people living permanently, but a lot of people coming to get healthier. I highly recommend to go there any time of the year. There are mineral springs coming from its soil and they are used for different procedures. The surroundings in the healing spas are very modern, comfortable, so it is a big pleasure to use some of the procedures. But the greatest fun is in the waterparks. I say parks – plural – because even in this pretty small city there are two. One was built for European money when Lithuania joined EU, the other by an owner of chemical factories. I guess some ego played a big role here. The waterparks are beautifully designed, with sculptures and decorations. Lots of pools, rides, underwater pressured streams and waterfalls. But the highlights of both are the different kinds of saunas they have. So many and so different that it takes hours to check all of them and to figure out which is best for you. And all of them have special decors, special herb smells, amazing…There is also herb tea for your peasure and rehidration in relaxation areas. For challange seekers each park has an ice room – all white with icicles and buckets of ice to pour on yourself after a hot time in sauna. The saunas have information about their temperature and humidity on their doors and they also have exotic names.?? I counted 16 saunas in the main park, and some 5 or 6 in the smaller, private and more expensive one. For me personally?? -I liked the ride on a tube in a circle of a fast narrow river, some poeple liked sitting on their tubes while one of the pools was bubling in big waves. I liked the rides on tubes down some circling pipes which were not too steep or scary. Youngsters liked riding on their butts down in narrower and steeper pipes. But best of all (I know it sounds crazy) – they have well designed big aquariums with well chosen fish. Observing them are hours and hours of fun :-)…

I am back in Utah now, living my usual life and having fun dinners with our friends here. I guess I never have enough of interactions :-)…When someone asks – was it sad to leave my country, are you happy to be here again, it is hard to answer shortly. All those feelings, lots of feelings. I am happy I can visit my country and my folks, I am happy that they are still doing well, that I can enjoy time with them and I am grateful I have my own world here and that I almost got used to this very different climate, and that we have a good community here and a very good yoga teacher (for comparison I went to two yoga classes in Lithuania – it is another story, but in that sense I am on a better path than they are there, sorry…) and that we still have some B&B business in those tough economic times.