And Then There Were The Roads…

travel_map

It has finally happened and with a happy sigh I can say I have returned back home. My real home that is – in Rīga, Latvia, a bit away from the “other home” in Burgas, Bulgaria where I usually spend my prolonged summers. So – 1 car, a bit of energy and longing for home, 2430 km (or 1509.93 miles), 7 countries (Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania), 2 border checkpoints (Bulgaria-Serbia and Serbia-Hungary) and 3 days is all it took to get from the warmer end of Europe to colder one. Since I have very much appreciation for mountains, the scenery during the first 2 days of my trip was the one I truly enjoyed. In the third one…well, it started to look much more like home and the weather turned into quite gloomy one like one would expect in November in this part of the world :)…

My conclusions? Though by far it wasn’ t my first time of doing this drive, things still manage to surprise me. After I have been used to usually quite…undiplomatic officers of Serbian customs, this time one wished me a pleasant trip. Doesn’ t take much, nor is obligatory but definitely felt nice! I faced slightly different situation at one of the posts of Serbian toll roads – giving the man 5 Euro instead of necessary 2 took an unexpected turn – he said that was too much money and I had to figure out a way to exchange it. A touch tricky with a line of probably 20 cars behind mine, eager to keep going, wouldn’ t you agree? Sometimes kindness and sort of tough stare does the job, fortunately. I mustn’t forget mentioning the highways in Hungary. They are really of a good quality (I am not comparing them with the ones all the way through Europe, just the countries I passed through) and they have paid attention to how important the road signs are for the people who somehow find themselves in a car on the road over there. Another maybe not too important matter but still worth mentioning – if WC sign in every single country I drove through meant the facilities were really there and available to be used, in Poland they had done the trick with…making them NOT free of charge. If a person travels with just a credit card and some cash in Euros, to pull Polish złoty out of the hat right there right then didn’ t seem nor easy, neither fair. Especially after the car had been fueled up in the same petrol station. The good part – people are really working on developing and improving the highway system in Poland, and for me personally it balances out my previous complaint. Almost!

What else? It is always so much fun and joy to travel, to discover new countries (or re-discover them) but there is something indefinable about returning home that makes my heart beat faster the moment I cross the border of Rīga. Always.

The Līgo Haibun Challenge – The Great Expectations

832083_origpicture by Ye Pirate

It is the “photo week” on the Līgo Haibun Challenge and my thougths wandered around this photo…

We never know what’ s next. No matter how hard we try, we simply don’ t. The moment of surprise in so many shades is still there. Appearing out of the blue. We don’ t know what’ s behind the corner. Or if that light in the end of the tunnel is a promise or just an illusion, a joke our mind has played once again. An oasis in the desert – a hope full of promises that might turn out to be an empty mirage. We plan and think, we draw our paths through life, get carried away designing those beautiful steps one after another but how often do they lead somewhere? How often are we able to reach a destination without unexpected twists and turns? Kobayashi Issa once said:

in this world
we walk on the roof of hell,
gazing at flowers

…and he got it right. Life has the tendency of turning things upside down when we expect it the least. Running carelessly through a mountain meadow you find yourself at the very edge of a cliff, a second from a fall all the way down. And driving on a road you suddenly realise it leads nowhere and it has been just a small one-way street. But still we are out there, living our lives away with heart and soul wide open. Laughing and crying, tripping and walking again proudly, being able to wonder, treasure and appreciate. While expecting the unexpected because there’ s a fair chance it will be there…expecting us.

after the turn
another one ahead
endless labyrinth

The Līgo Haibun Challenge