Sojourn: A Summer Journey to the Livonian Coast
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.