I never thought of becoming a volunteer. I didn’t even agree with the concept. Normally it is just a white rich kid’s wet dream of helping the poor little children and then comeback to their home country and everything’s the same. But one day a friend of mine sent me the link to the Boltik Baik project, and I immediately knew that I need to do it. At the base it’s the combination of two of my favourite things, video and bicycles; it’s an opportunity to live abroad for the first time, and to get out of Lisbon’s routine. What could be bad? And even the bad things will be great for me, I thought.
So when I knew I was accepted I didn’t know much. I’m going to Latvia, to the north, to a coast city called Liepaja, to work with bicycles and video, I kept saying to people around me. I only found out where Latvia was in the map two days before coming to advance planning visit. So here I went to the plane thinking I would stay in the city and probably travel by myself. I didn’t have expectations and I didn’t have a goal. I just went.
|The sauna in Dimzeni|
And two weeks later none of that it’s true. Yes, at the superficial this is a project about bikes and video, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about renovating a workshop from scratch and getting your hand dirty. It’s about getting to know Latvia and it’s customs and rituals. I mean, in the last two weeks I saw fish jumping Europe’s widest waterfall, I saw snow suddenly falling when an incredible woman starts to sing a bird calling Easter song, I sent all my bad soul stuff to the river and I think it’s actually working – and I’m a sceptical-not-fond-of-esoteric-stuff monster. And I went to sauna for the first time in my life in a more than 100 year’s old wooden building and jumped in a freezing river afterwards. It was so intense! Sauna is a 90º homoerotic masochist therapy that cleans you on the inside, on the outside and your brain – or soul if you prefer. Really! I never thought it could be so great. I was just screaming of pleasure.
To all of you my fellow friends I say: I feel sorry for you! I’m a lucky southern bastard.
I’m so glad I really came to Latvia. I just hope that I can come back also after the project.