Dec 14, 2011

the Boris diaries, vol. I

- This driver has a problem. This driver needs a visa to enter the Russian Federation, so this driver needs to go and get one.

I made everyone get up extra early (and failed miserably), made sure everyone was equipped for the riding day, loaded up the van and drove off to Siauliai. I met our local organizer Toma at the dormitories, unloaded luggage, spare bikes, cooking equipment and everything the group might need and headed North.

- This driver is getting his visa from the Russian Consulate in Riga.

When I crossed the border into Latvia, I felt a little more at home. After all, I did live here for one year. It was nice to recognize the language. Nothing says "welcome back" like a huge traffic sign announcing working speed radars. Of course this was all boosted the very moment I crossed the bridge over the Daugava.

I met Edvarts, my local contact who'd help me at the consulate. It wasn't long before I was sitting in front of a nice lady trying to explain my situation and the sort of diplomatic contacts that had allegedly taken place in the background. The nice lady wasn't moved by my arguments and told me to go fill out a proper application.

(I had a proper application, obviously. In fact, I had two. For some reasons, there are two different application forms, which vary from consulate to consulate. Don't know why, don't care.)

As I glued my ugly mug to the proper application form, the nice lady stepped out of her workstation, kindly informed me that she had spoken with her boss and told me to return the next morning. No more paperwork would be required.

- This driver has a problem. This driver needs to stay overnight.

Being a man of resources, I had a guardian angel in the city who agreed to host me for the night. Fortunately, I had my luggage with me. That and a van, which is not easy to park in the city center without being charged or blocked or towed away. I called Julian, informed him of the change of plans and began preparing myself for an interesting morning at the consulate...

- This driver also has a bad case of nostalgia.

It so happened that my host was busy for a few more hours, so I did something I'd been dreaming about for years: I took Boris and began making the rounds I used to make back when I lived in Riga. What's the point of coming back to a place one calls home if one does not investigate what has changed and what has remained?

- This driver is happy to have found Riga pretty much like he left it.

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