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Walking up the shore it was easy to miss Sǟnag. Its location was only identified by an abandoned Soviet-era lookout post and a rickety tower that my friends told me was the local lighthouse, though I never saw it in operation. I couldn’t say if it had always been so, but walking through Sǟnag it seemed that it and Vaid were sister communities that flowed into each other. Unlike the other towns, it was difficult to tell where one community began and the other ended, save for a wooded patch no more obvious than those usually found within the coast communities. It was a day typical of this stormy and cold summer, clouds moving overhead, occasionally breaking to let in the sunlight. These pictures were taken walking through Sǟnag from Irē on the way to Vaid.
During the Soviet occupation, much of the coast had been militarized and declared off-limits to most outsiders. Today many of the relics of this period are still visible. An abandoned military base, mysterious oddly-shaped hunks of metal, and lookout posts like this one, once manned by Soviet soldiers. Later I would find that someone had purchased one of these towers and the land surrounding it, further down the coast near Pizā, making it into a rest stop for hikers walking up the coast.
The path from the beach to the village was marked by these fishing boats. It was rumored that the fishing industry was dead on the coast, that the fishermen no longer ventured out daily into the waters of the Baltic. Later I would hear that this was just a tale told by the fishermen themselves to keep away competition and curious outsiders from their secret fishing spots. That summer on the coast, I would eat some of the best smoked fish I’d ever had.
Close up of one of the fishing boats on Sǟnag beach. Most of the boats I saw that summer were registered in Roja, one of the larger towns in the area further south on the coast of the Gulf of Rīga. No one could remember a time when Roja had been Livonian. Though its name, derived from the language, seemed to tell a different story.
A sign post in the Sǟnag woods marking a campground with the Latvian name Līvzeme — Land of the Livonians.
A country home sits nestled among the trees. As the sun begins to dip below the tree tops, the shadows of the coast forest grow longer, the grass flames in the evening light.
The sun shines through the tree tops, casting beautiful shadows on this forest path, showing the way to Vaid.