We've come a long way, baby!

Do you see those ripe figs I picked up at the supermarket the other day?  Aaamaaaaazing.  Made me think of how far this country has come, shopping-wise, in the last few years.  When we first moved, the situation was dire, and we had friends and relations bring us all manner of substances from overseas. Most things were not heart-stoppingly important - just those little things that you miss when you don't have them.  Really early on we couldn't get toasters in Latvia and got used to having sandwiches for breakfast. There was no household bleach, or nappy liners, or takeaway coffees, or decaf coffee, luxury items like snap-lock bags, or spices like cumin, curry paste, brown sugar.  English language books used to be hard to come by, and at Easter time, you couldn't get chocolate Easter eggs anywhere. Reasonably priced Chinese takeaway food is still a distant dream.

Things slowly started improving, however, and the expat community would share information on where to get highly sought-after items: coconut milk, cranberry sauce, choc chips for baking.  For a long while, Jem said that he would be completely satisfied with life here when he could get "big" toaster bread instead of the mini rounded loaves of white bread; and when he could by a kebab for lunch.  Abracadabra, zippety zoo - and lo and behold, both the requested big bread and turkish fast food showed up. So apart from Vegemite, we can pretty much get everything and anything in Riga now, as long as you have the cash to pay. Shops full of iced cup cakes. Bath bombs, sushi bars, even beauty spas where little fish eat the dead skin off your feet - you can pretty much get it all.  And that, I'm happy for.  Especially the ripe mangoes that turn up in the supermarket occasionally.  On those days the emails between like-minded mango eaters spread like wildfire.

Another thing that reminded me of how far Latvia has come lately was the art festival we went to on the weekend.  Obtuse installations from local and foreign artists, the best one was an interactive steam-punk labyrinth all the way from some good folk in Barcelona, which brought a bit of  old-school mechanical fun to Riga.  The labyrinth had doors all through it, which you could only open by working out various puzzles attached to the opening mechanism. Games with magnets, blocks on rope, combinations like on a safe.  Everything was wooden, or welded metal, completely touchable, incredibly simple and awfully appealing.  We all played and played in the labyrinth, totally enchanted by the clunky physicality of all of the parts.  Made me wish I lived near a spanish artist's workshop/studio, so I could tinker with these things all the time.  Maybe one day.

2 Responses so far.

  1. I tried commenting on the bus this morning but my phone doesn't like that word recognition thing.

    I have a fig cake recipe I can pass on if you want it. It's delish. I really enjoy reading about your life in Latvia. It's so different and exotic with a tinge of Brisbane humour. I've recently seen some cool blog posts (don't ask me to name them now) on things coming out of latvia eg latvian pottery and latvian hand-knitted beanies. Sounds like Latvia is the place to be!

  2. Mook says:

    Dearest MMMC! Yeah, bring on the fig cake recipe! Would love to give it a go. I am glad my pedestrian reality seems exotic to someone. Someone with BLUE TONGUE LIZARDS living in their yard (well, in their ex-yard). So who's exotic now, eh?
    Cheers, M

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