Part 1: First Night Out in Latvia

Latvia is small. Valmiera may be one of the biggest cities in Latvia, but it is small. Two results of this: 


1) Everyone knows everyone. Everyone knows my host siblings, my host siblings know who my classmates are, and it seems that most of the youth of Valmiera recognize the other youth of Valmiera, even if they don't know them personally. Given that I am a) new, b) from America, and c) a Californian, I am quite the novelty. Apparently it's known that there's an exchange student from America, and when I meet people there's a bunch of "Oh, so you're the American!", and occasional, "Oh, so Gatis is your brother?" Also, I've gotten about five Katy Perry comparisons - "You look exactly like Katy Perry - and you're a California Girl!" Everyone also finds the fact that I speak Spanish highly entertaining, and I often field requests to "Say something in Spanish!" or "Say something in French!" (even though I'm really only conversational in French.) I have also had to say "kaķitis" (kitty) about 20 times because my accent "is so cute when [I] say that!"


2) You get anywhere in Valmiera by foot within fifteen minutes, which means kids are more independent and from a younger age. There's no need to ask parents for a ride or permission to go somewhere. Kids just announce that they're heading out, say where they're going - to the center, or to a friend's, or for a walk - and that's it. When Mama Zane returned from work on Friday, I asked her if I could go with to a concert with three of my classmates. She said "Of course! Where is it?" She actually seemed shocked that I was requesting permission. When I asked her what time I had to be home, she shrugged and said, "Whenever you want to come home. If you're the last one up, just remember to lock the door." After further discussion in a mix of Latvian and Russian, I found out that - like most Latvian teenagers - if it's not a school night, I have no curfew. 


Gatis actually is the strictest "parent" in the house. He has taken my safety as his personal mission for the year. Yesterday (unbeknownst to me) he contacted a BMX friend who is in my class to get the numbers of all the people I was going out with.  Then he gave me multiple talks about safety and informed me that if I run into trouble, I should call him and he'll be there "like that" (insert 'vroom-vroom' motion and sound effects.) After the safety talk last night, we watched a couple episodes of Nitro Circus on my laptop, and at 9 I went to meet three classmates in front of Maxima (a Latvian CVS, but with more food items... outside of Maxima is kind of like the SPL.)


I just wrote a lengthy description of the entire night (all 6 hours of it - I returned home at 3:30), but I accidentally deleted it and am now kicking myself. Consider that saved for part 2. I know the suspense is killing you.


(Oh, and good news: my arm wound finally stopped oozing. Until today it was constantly oozing through every layer of bandage. Gnarly.)


1 Response to "Part 1: First Night Out in Latvia"

  1. margote93 Says:

    i like gatis
    hes like your brother
    except latvian
    and with jorts

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