Travelling through Latvia to visit homeland Alūksne, spring 2012

Sometimes I of course went home. Mostly I travelled by bicycle on friday exactly after the lessons. Usually I started at 16:00 o’ clock and arrived to my parents place in Alūksne town at 1 o’clock in the night. Even when it was winter time. 110 km one direction. My route was through Vecpiebalga and Jaunpiebalga – a very beautiful hillside. And of course Ērgļi area.


I experienced both sunny and rainy weather. I enjoyed this warm spring rain, despite everyone would say it is not a season to get wet. Well, I was striving to get back home so my bodyheat got me dry on the way quite quickly.

The only thing I lacked was food and water. One trip was very problematic. My back tire released air a lot, so I had to pump it every hour or often. I was already 20 km close to the home but it was already midnight. I was extremely hungry and more over, thirsty. Then I realised I have some of organic onion left in my bag. I stopped and ate it. Onion never tasted so sweet before. It was like an apple or something. Then at Strautiņi settlement I was lucky to meet some people returning from the party home. I asked one guy for water, he was kind to give me. It was very refreshing. I explained him situation as well.

There was a place near to Ranka, where the road was closed. It would not bother bicycle of course. It was 5 km in the forest. Some of the road was perfect asphalt, but the rest of it was just sand. It was alright for me to crawl through there, because the forest was magnificent. And no car traffic at all. I wonder if they finished this segment in the summer.

The first thing I did at home was to get some reed from the lake. I just took a cart and went there where fishing inspectors met me and asked me if I am not trying to catch some pike during spawning period. I explained them my vegetarian views and situation with reed as well. They were happy that there is someone who wants to get it away and invited me to participate in big cleanup event which takes place in the end of April. They promised to give me a suit to crawl in the water as well. But for now there was still ice.


I filled my cart one way, then another, because otherwise I would block the traffic. I was gathering this small load several hours. I heard about Scandinavian trick with sledge and scythe, but the ice was not that kind and I did not have such a sledge as well. So I just did what I could. I’d like to use it for a roof material, reedbale material and as an insulation material. It is of course possible to make dreamcatcher decorations out of it. We call it Puzurs.

Later in April I came there to meet inspectors. They gave me the rubber suit. I got into the water and realized that scythe they gave me, is not cutting. I tried to break with hands. They gave me nice gloves. But reed appeared to be so sharp that I tore both gloves and skin of my fingers as soon as I tried to work faster. Reed particle got stuck under my skin and I needed help to get it out. I returned the suit to inspectors, where the older guy told me that I need a short blade scythe and cut it under the water close to the root, no more than 3 reeds at once. Then I get them longer, it shall be safe for me and the place would be cleaner. I had to leave bloody.

Sometimes I travelled by bus. Unfortunately there was no bus from Madona to Ērgļi after Alūksne bus arrival, so I had to hitchhike. Nobody really wanted to take me except for one man, ho appeared to be american moved to Ērgļi about two years ago. His name is Marvin. Very kind guy and a christian, as I understood. I took his phonenumber to visit him someday, but I never found opportunity.

Once I took a bus to Madona. From where I hitchhiked to Gulbene, to renew my driver’s licence. Two men helped. The last one was a forest businessman from Balvi. He made an offer to buy my forests. I of course refused.


About Pavels Melnis

Independent ecology activist, family farmer, gardener and forestkeeper. Musician: violin, guitar, singing. Hobbies: traveling by bicycle, learning to play different music instruments - accordion, piano, recorder flute, harmonica, drums; languages, theology, prehistory, logbuilding, repairing and recycling. Religious. Ecological. Love all things ethnic and traditional.
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