The trip was 17 hours long, but fine. We had a five hour layover in Barcelona. That was not enough time to go out of the airport, but the landscape was beautiful. Barcelona sits on the Mediterranean Sea and is bordered on the west by mountains. Just breathtaking.
After a three hour flight to Riga, we arrived at our guest house at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. The neighborhood looked suspect. This guest house was recommended by another family adopting from Latvia. It is quite economical and considered safe, but outside, it looks like you are driving up to an abandoned warehouse with graffeti all over the walls. Sabina immediately proclaimed she was not staying here. Inside was very neat and clean and the staff were very nice. Our room is on the second floor and there are no elevators. The building is hundreds of years old, but well maintained. Our room is tiny. There are two twin beds, a nightstand, a small chair and a television. There is no place to put suitcases and no place to store clothing, except for a rod with three clothes hangers. Again, I say, it is neat and clean! Sabina was still saying she would not stay here, maybe one night, but that was all and she was crying.
Monday morning was a bit better. The guest house provides a free breakfast and it was very nice, served in a modern dining room. The breakfast was good, normal Latvian fare.....eggs fried hard, sausages (more like our hot dogs), sliced port (like luncheon meat), sliced cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes. The coffee is wonderful! By the time we finished breakfast Sabina had decided it might be alright to stay here!
Daina, our attorney, arrived at noon to take us to a doctor for Sabina's medical exam which is required for immigration into the U. S. Then we went to the Latvian passport office to apply for a new passport. I do not understand the need for that, but we did it. Daina assured us that the area we are staying in is safe even if it is covered with graffiti!
Later, Sabina and I walked to the bank to exchange money and then had dinner at a nice restaurant, Kid. We had cold yogurt soup made with cucumbers, radishes, onions and spinach. It was great. The rest of the meal was ok, but nothing compared to the soup.
After dinner we went to Maximi, the local grocery store. There is a kitchen on our floor at the guest house so we can keep things in the refrigerator and even cook. While in the dairy section, I observed a family with two young boys. The parents were speaking English with a New York accent and the children were speaking English with a Latvian accent. I asked if they were from the U. S. and they were; I asked if they were possibly in the process of an adoption and they were; I asked if their attorney is Daina and she is!! They had hosted their boys through New Horizons, and like us, are here for the final leg of their adoption journey!! We talked for quite a while and arranged to have dinner on Thursday night. Talk about a small world!!
Today, we were suppose to go to the passport office in the afternoon. I was mistaken about their hours and we missed the time we were to be there. I was mortified, but we called (Sabina, since she speaks Latvian!) and they said we can come in the morning. Thank heavens!
Sabina's foster mom's son invited us to his apartment for dinner so we took a taxi there about 5:30. Edwards met us and inquired about what we had paid for the taxi. It seems he had overcharged us two lats which is the equivalent of $4.00. The taxi driver gave it back to me without a question. We took a few photos along the way as we traveled through Riga. Unfortunately I cannot get them to upload!
Edwards lives in an apartment building which is part of a huge complex. The buildings all look alike from the outside. He says they were built by the USSR which accounts for the plainness of the buildings. There are five floors and Edwards lives on the third floor. There is graffiti inside and outside and the stairway is dark and drab. We went through two locked doors to get into the apartment where there is a major difference in decor! Inside, Edwards' wife is working on the dinner and his son is playing. The kitchen is large by local standards. They don't have a lot of kitchen utensils, but the things they have are high quality. The bathroom is beautifully tiled. There is no bedroom, only a living room where there is a cute boy type bed for Daniel and a sofa which makes into a bed for Edwards and his wife. We had wonderful stuffed peppers fixed with a broth from carrots, onions and lots of garlic. The potatoes are roasted with very strong horseradish. The meal was wonderful and the conversation was pleasant. Edwards speaks good English. After dinner we had chocolates from many different places and hot tea. It was a nice evening. Then Edwards and his family drove us back to the guest house.
Tomorrow we go to the passport office and the U. S. Embassy. Good night from Latvia!!