Rock bottom in Riga

Tuesday 13 May

Well it had to happen.  What did I expect coming to the party capital of the Baltics?  The place runs amok with cheap English stag wankers, strippers and shady Russians.  Of course I would choose such a place to epically fail in my attempt to get things back on track.  For a week I’ve been spectacularly pissed, lonely and depressed, which has culminated in getting mugged and shitting myself at a karaoke.  I am literally and figuratively not in a good place.

And so the absence of the girl I’m in love with is taking its toll.  I knew I was bad, but I didn’t think I’d stoop to the level of alcoholism that I’ve achieved over the past seven days.  I’m spending most of my time locating cheap food, then getting totally hammered and rattling through bags of tobacco while talking to women I’ve no interest in.  Some kind of unsuccessful distraction.  On one such occasion I’ve actually walked away from a girl mid-conversation.  They are throwing themselves at foreigners here, myself included, they’re all stunningly gorgeous; and I’m not the slightest bit interested.

I’ve bought a crap take-away sandwich to line my stomach for the booze.  It’s horrible, and I know something is up.  Fast forward a few hours later and I’m totally blind, belting out a convincing version of “This Years Love”, when a fart becomes a turd.  I deposit the offending underwear into the toilet bin, and make a hasty exit.  A young German girl asks if I’ve recently been heartbroken, such was the emotion in my performance.

I’m breaking a cardinal rule seconds later – don’t wander the streets of Riga drunk and alone.  It’s not long before I’m approached by a skin-headed human mountain, and he points at the Latvian flag bracelet on my wrist, gifted by some floozy the other night.

“WHAT DAFUK IS TIS MAN?”  And I try to stammer an explanation.  His hand whips from his pocket, and it contains a massive butterfly knife.  “NO, NO, NO! FUKLATVIA!  I AM RUSKI!”  He grabs my wrist and cuts off the offending accessory, then starts beating his chest and Russian badge on his giant shoulder.  Continuing to wave the weapon in front of my face, he continues:  “TOMORROW WE PLAY USA AND WE’RE GONNA FUUUKDEMM IN DI ASSSS!!”  He makes a graphic charade of presumably doggy-styling the entire USA ice hockey team.  I nervously laugh and bumble something about hoping they do.

I’ve tried to edge away all the time, but he’s not letting me go.  “YOU WANT SOME COKE MAN?  SOME GIRLS?  I GOT GIRLS WITH NICE TITTIES FOR YOU.”

“I’m sorry I’m not interested in girls.”

Now in my head, the line made perfect sense.  I’m only interested in one particular girl.  I wasn’t implying that I’m interested in boys.  But I’ve effectively told a massive Russian neanderthal I’m gay.  I await the beating, but he casually asks me for money while waving the blade around.  I manage to convince him I’ve drunk it all away (actually the truth) and I try to appease him with 1 euro.  He looks miffed, but seems content not to push further and he wanders off in the direction of other inebriated tourists.  It was the friendliest mugging I’ve ever experienced.

I learn my lesson and turn for home, but end up sinking some more ale at the hostel bar while chewing the ear off the night worker about music and casual racism.  By the time I’m heading to bed, the dawn has broken; and so have I.



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Hitchhike to India legs 22/23: Tallin to Parnu to Riga

Monday 05 May

Alright so it’s gone a bit pear-shaped and I find myself in the Baltics, slightly off route, but nonetheless the show must go on and I’m getting to see more countries anyway.  I managed to persuade a nice French chap (and incredible pool player) to give me a lift to Parnu, then after a week of festivities in Tartu, my friend Helen deposits me on the side of the road just outside of town.  I last properly hitched in February, so it seems like a lifetime ago I was waving signs at random drivers.  Much like riding a bike, it’s not long before I’ve remembered the old ways of talking to myself, pacing along the white lines, and swearing at people who pass me by with a smile on my face.  Anyway you can entertain yourself is acceptable.

Thirty minutes later and I’ve got a ride all the way to Riga.  He is actually driving right through to Vilnius, Lithuania, and for a moment I consider going the distance.  However it literally would mean passing straight through Latvia, which in my book means I didn’t visit.  After a pleasant drive with engaging conversation I arrive in the capital.

Crossing the border and there isn’t much difference in landscape, save the roads have taken a slight turn for the worst.  My driver also points out some extremely unusual object by the side of the road as we coast along.  We spot a giant yellow chair in a field, an old dead tree painted bright orange, an enormous beer stien on a hill, and what looks like British red coat soldiers sitting on flying balls.  Surreal to say the least.  Someone in the Latvian transport office has a sense of humour.

The weather is poor as I reach my hostel and it’s definitely a duvet day.  Tomorrow promises to be brighter, so I opt to hide in my room for the night and wander the old town tomorrow.   But after watching my team throw away a three goal lead and thus the chance of the title, I’m in a 24 hour bar by midnight singing bad karaoke with a Canadian ice hockey team.  Welcome to Riga.  Pray for me.

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