House of Blackheads

Today I was reminded by my classmate Kate that I had failed to update my blog in a very long time. While I have been getting such reminders daily from my mother (sorry mommy), I decided I would be kind and gift the blogosphere with my insight. Since then, so many things have happened that this will undoubtedly be a very disorganized and confusing post. Let's start with the weekends, because that makes sense. Two weekends ago was our school's 90th birthday celebration... I volunteered to be an usher, which, in retrospect, was kind of ridiculous given that when people came at me speaking quickly in Latvian I just went, "Ummm..." and turned to whoever was next to me. But I got a name tag, with my name Latvi-fied and everything! Random anecdote: There was this one elderly man (he may or may not have been completely wasted) and he kept wandering around the main hall. Twice he came up to me, looked like he was about to say something, stared at my name tag, got a disgusted look on his face, and walked away. Twice. The only theory we could come up with is that maybe he thought I was Russian... Then there was an old lady who went up to one of my classmates, shook her hand, and said (in Latvian) "Hello Ruthie!"
Aleksandra: the least helpful dežurants you will ever meet.

On Thursday, I missed the second half of school in order to take the bus to Riga for Intercultural Dialogue Day - which, despite its name, was actually quite fun. We got funding from the EU to scribble circles on paper. No joke. Oh, how I love the EU... Anyway, we made presentations on exchange, intercultural communication, etc., met a bunch of people from all over the world (including the president of AFS International), and ate cake.

All the other exchange students spent Friday in Riga at some other events, but I drove back to Valmiera that night (my bus got in at 1:30 am) in order to go to school the next morning. Yes, I turned down the opportunity to miss school, but only because it was Teacher's Day. I taught first grade with Līva and Arta, which was... interesting. Note to concerned parents: have your teenager spend two hours trying to control a room of 25 seven year olds and you will never have to worry about them being on "16 and Pregnant." I can't remember how many times we had to break up wrestling matches, fights, etc... the only method of control that works is, literally, carrying the misbehaving child upside down. Then there was that one kid who liked to scream the F word (in English) to get a rise out of me. At the end of the lesson, there were two little kids who gave us hugs and literally clung to our legs as we left - the level of cuteness made the early morning torture almost worth it. Almost.

That Saturday I rode back to Riga for the AFS Latvia 20th Anniversary Ball. Despite my lack of any formal wear (yes, I've been here for a month and still haven't gotten used to the whole "dressy" thing), it was an incredibly fun party. I don't really know what to say about it; when Jordan's photos come back they will explain themselves. Oh, and the ex-President of Latvia was there (I guess she's like their Bill Clinton, minus the whole impeachment thing), as well as many other important people whose names and titles I forget. And there was more cake!

L-R: Jordan, Ieva, Gustavs, Napon, Allie with eyes closed, Martiņš, Alex
The party ended at 2 am, past the last bus to Valmiera, so I stayed with a bunch of AFS-related-people. We walked around Old Riga for a while and when we got home drank all the free Coke we were given (seriously, I think Coke is a sponsor of AFS or something, because they were just handing it out... I had 6 bottles in my backpack alone) and went to bed at 7. The next morning we went on a walking tour of Old Riga (although we were late and only caught the end), ate as a giant group of AFS people, and then 7 of us (2 Latvian returnees, 3 inbound exchangers, and 2 volunteers) went to the top of St. Peter's Church to look at the view. Afterwards we went to the Melngalvju Nams, which translates literally to the House of Blackheads. Disgusting, right? It was actually just a historical museum, nothing related to skin problems and acne. I don't know if it's a normal Latvian thing, but usually American teenagers don't hang out in museums. We were there until closing doing weird things like auctioning off paintings and discussing whether it's normal to have a stripper pole in the middle of your basement. (Topic courtesy of Alex, who was an exchange student in Alaska and witnessed this.)

That's enough for today. The photo-to-text ratio is already too low, and I still haven't spoken about this week yet...

1 Response to "House of Blackheads"

  1. Mama Kangaroo Says:

    No. Please tell Alex that stripper poles in basements are not normal, but gyms around here have offered "stripper pole" exercise classes. Fortunately, not my gym. It's good to see you are not letting Latvia down by blog neglect. :)

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