#8: Vilnius, Lithuania – What You Risk Reveals What You Value …


8: Vilnius, Lithuania
Oh my gosh, can this night ever end!?! My last night in Liepaja was pure torture. It was a test on how much torture I can endure.

I was UP ALL NIGHT! My bedroom window was open so that fresh air could come in. Well, together with the fresh air comes the mosquitoes! I can feel them just annoying the hell out of me and it somehow feels intentional on their part. I try to play the mind games, telling myself, “They don’t bother me. I’ll just keep waving them off me when they land.” Except this went on ALL NIGHT. Sometimes they’ll get a bite out of me before I get to them. It was a huge battle between man and beast and somehow, they were winning. I wasn’t getting any sleep and they were also biting me!

I tell myself, that’s okay, I’ll sleep in the bus…this is okay, it’s part of the experience. I’ll sleep in the bus.

Morning came and it felt like I had been studying all night. I was exhausted. But I realize that today, I go to Lithuania, so my adrenaline started pumping. I got excited all over again. So, I jumped out of bed and went straight to the kitchen. Lana made a hard boiled egg for us to eat for breakfast and had coffee made. We sit down and we’re sort of quiet. I was leaving in a couple of hours. So, we sort of made a list of places we needed to stop by for before going to the bus station. The bus left at 10:50, we’ll have plenty of time to stop to get Latvian ice cream.

I took my shower, packed and we got ready to go. Before we left, Lana checked my room and found a couple of things which I deliberately left for her. A couple of post-it pads with the product name of which I sell in America. She was excited to have it. As she was getting ready, I took one more look around the place. The place had a vintage look to it, very ‘Sovietique’, then to see that post-it pad laying on the coffee table, it made me think I sort of contaminated the timeliness of the place by putting something so 20th century in it. The post-it pad originally made by 3M, it’s such the sign of America.

We take off and start walking towards the bus station. We stopped at the market and bought some ice cream then kept walking. She noticed that we weren’t far from the Greek Orthodox church. So, we stopped in to look at the church. It was beautiful. Just then, a man came up to me and started talking to me. I immediately pointed to Lana, so that he can tell her what he needed. Lana started walking out of the church so I followed her, leaving that man. “What did he want?” I asked. “We wanted some money from you. These people think American tourists have a lot of money. Some of them give and some don’t.” She said it so matter-of-factly that I almost felt like maybe I should have given. In America, I’m so used to not giving money. I can’t believe that I found myself having this same guard up in this country, something I didn’t plan on doing.

I get to the bus station, we take a quick picture in front of the station and I boarded the bus. She waits, standing there looking into the bus. I don’t know if she sees me. The windows are tinted. However, I sit there, just looking at her, the Russian lady with newly blonde hair, with her flowing black dress. A slim lady in her fifty’s, beautiful but still motherly. I felt really sad leaving. As the bus drove off, she turned around and started walking. I waved goodbye to her for the last time, like she was mother. She waved back.

I’m in seat 34, beside a girl. We sit for about one and a half hours until Klaipeda, Lithuania. The town where I change buses to Vilnius. I can tell the girl beside me doesn’t speak English. Good, I can catch up on my sleep.

At the border, the border patrol comes in and collects all our passports. By this time, I am familiar with the process as I’ve done this once already. The Latvian border patrolman is wearing green pants and beret and a brown uniform shirt. I noticed this because he just looked striking in this uniform. Very polished and sharp. I stared at him until he got to my seat. I gave him my passport. Minutes later, he comes back and hands us back our passports.

A few more minutes again and the Lithuanian border patrol comes up and examines our passports. Same deal, and we’re off again.

At one of the stops a young man gets in. He sits on one of the seats and curls up to take a nap. He looked exhausted. I felt bad. I don’t remember being that exhausted. They must carry their packs on their backs like everyone else. Unlike everyone else, my backpack has wheels and I never really had to carry my backpack. Am I a fake? Well, maybe I’m just practical. At any rate, I felt for that young man.

In Klaipeda, I get off. I have to catch the Vilnius bus from here. Good luck to me. This is a much smaller city, so chances are no one speaks English. I line up, try to get a bus and the clerk says, the bus is leaving in five minutes. I run over there and as I was running I realized, I didn’t have any Lithuanian money. Darn! I knew it wasn’t going to work. I get up to the bus and tried to pay with my credit card. No go. I tried asking when the next bus to Vilnius leaves. He doesn’t speak English. Great. I go back and line up at the ticket counter. I see that young man is at the ticket counter trying to get tickets for 18 of his friends. Complicated situation. They were trying to get to Riga but he was told that he had to take a bus to Klaipeda and buy the ticket from there. Weird. Anyway, he was looking around to find out what day it was. I immediately spoke up. “I speak English, and that date she’s giving you is correct.” I wished I could be more help but I didn’t speak the language. He ended up stepping aside to figure things out since there were people, including me, waiting.

I got up to the window to buy a ticket for Vilnius on my credit card. It turns out they don’t accept Visa, just MasterCard. What is that?!? Who accepts MasterCard and not Visa? It’s like a place that sells burgers and not fries. I was shocked. No Visa? So, where can I get money? The train station, the lady says. She points towards a certain direction. So, I walk that way. I don’t know where the heck I was but I was hoping that I’d recognize a train station.

Across the street, there seems to be something that looked like a train station. Meanwhile, I REALLY needed to go to the bathroom. First thing’s first. I’ll be able to concentrate on the task at hand after my trip to the bathroom.

I tried to ask someone, “bathroom?” “restroom?” I’m getting blank stares. I’m searching my brain for the right keyword. I walk under the restroom sign to point to it so that she can direct me to it. She saw where I was pointing and said, “toilet?” and I almost jump, “yes!” I said. I did make a mental note that the international keyword was toilet. I walk over there and noticed that it was not a paid toilet. I can sort of smell it as I approached. I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t do it. So turned around and told myself that I can wait. I found a cash machine and got money and made my way back to the bus station.

I was able to get my ticket, find the restroom, get a bag of chips and make it to the bus with five minutes to spare.

Ahh….I did it! I’m home free. I did see that young man back in line. It looked like he was able to figure things out and was able to purchase his tickets. I felt good for him. That’s what it’s all about. Figuring things out on your own.

So, I’m in the bus relaxing, enjoying my music and looking outside the window. After a few hours, the bus makes a stop at a station. I asked how long we have here and he motioned to me five minutes. So, I quickly jump out and head over to the store to buy some water. I was at the end of the line and line was going quickly. When I was about two people away from the cashier, a bus driver, who somehow looked like mine, walked in. From what I can tell, he was motioning people that the bus is leaving. I immediately panicked, paid for my water and dashed out the door. I am standing right outside the store and facing a parking lot full of buses. Oh shit, which one did I just out of? Panic stricken, I tried to look cool and approached one of the buses. After a few steps towards this bus, I hear a loud ‘honk.’ I stop walking and look towards the direction of the noise. I caught the eye of the bus driver in that bus and he motioned for me to get in that bus. I smile sheepishly and run towards it. Uugh…this is why my husband fears for me….focus Lizza, focus….

The second time the bus stopped (Kaunas station) and I asked to be let out for a few minutes, the driver seemed hesitant (I wonder why?). He was careful in giving me directions as to how long and where to look for the bus when I’m ready to come back. I thought it was a bit humorous. Come on guys, I’m 33 years old, just a little oversight on my part. It won’t happen again.

The ride from Kaunas to Vilnius was uneventful. It was a pretty short ride and all I could focus my attention on was this old man sitting across the aisle from me. He had a white baseball cap and he was cleaning a stain with his saliva and his handkerchief. He seemed to working on it intently. So, I sort of got involved in his business too. There was a simple way about him and his task at hand that made me appreciate the moment. I’ll be in Vilnius soon and I’m very excited.

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