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Sojourn: A Summer Journey to the Livonian Coast

The vil­lages and near­by towns of the Livo­ni­an Coast (in Livo­ni­an with Lat­vian names given in paren­the­ses) (Image by Uld­is Balodis.)

This trav­el­ogue describes my jour­ney to Līvõd Rān­da (the Livo­ni­an Coast) in the sum­mer of 2000. As I’ve writ­ten else­where on this site, my inter­est in the Livo­ni­ans, their lan­guage, and their home­land, came about in the mid-90s when I was a teenager. I cre­at­ed this site at first as an attempt to adver­tise my inter­est in the Livo­ni­ans, but ulti­mate­ly it grew into a way for me to share the knowl­edge I’d accu­mu­lat­ed at a time when there was noth­ing else online about the Livo­ni­ans.  When I went to the Livo­ni­an Coast that sum­mer, I stayed for sev­er­al weeks in Irē (Mazir­be) where the Livo­ni­an children’s and youth sum­mer camp “Piški tēḑ” (Lit­tle Star, in Livo­ni­an) was tak­ing place. I’d had this dream of hik­ing through all of the Livo­ni­an vil­lages — places which I’d won­dered about for years and which had fired my imag­i­na­tion for that entire time — and towards the end of the camp, I found that sev­er­al of the teach­ers at the camp were also inter­est­ed in this idea. They put togeth­er the arrange­ments and on the night after the end of the camp and the annu­al Livo­ni­an Fes­ti­val (Līvõd Pivād, in Livo­ni­an) in Irē, a bus dri­ver in the vil­lage took us to Pizā (Miķeļ­tor­nis) for the start of our hike. Over the next three days we hiked the 42 km to Kūolka (Kolka) in one large seg­ment on the first day (Pizā → Irē) and two small­er seg­ments on day 2 (Irē → Vaid (Vaide)) and day 3 (Vaid → Kūolka). On the evening of the sec­ond night of our hike we slept in the house of the famous Livo­ni­an speak­er Poulīn Kļav­iņa (Paulīne Kļav­iņa) in Vaid, which is also shown in the­se pho­tographs.

I wrote this trav­el­ogue in 2004 when I under­took a major revi­sion of this site that year. My sum­mer on the Livo­ni­an Coast had been a very mean­ing­ful event for me in my life and I had kept try­ing to find a way to tell that sto­ry. Long nar­ra­tives didn’t feel right. In pre­vi­ous years, I’d become increas­ing­ly fas­ci­nat­ed by haiku as a means for express­ing the essence of a par­tic­u­lar moment or feel­ing. I decid­ed that the best way to tell the sto­ry of my expe­ri­ences from that sum­mer was in the form of brief descrip­tions accom­pa­ny­ing par­tic­u­lar pho­tographs. In that way I could encap­su­late my feel­ings in those moments and share my expe­ri­ence in a sim­ple and direct way with read­ers.

This trav­el­ogue reflects only my own expe­ri­ence and should not be viewed as being rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Livo­ni­an peo­ple or their views in any way. Instead, the­se are my impres­sions as a trav­el­er encoun­ter­ing a place for the first time in real life that had lived for years only  in my imag­i­na­tion.