We arrived at Leenu’s house in Vasalemma after our trip from Sweden absolutely exhausted and starving. So starving in fact that when Leenu said that there was chicken soup, we just picked out the chicken pieces and ate it anyway. I’m not feeling guilty about it at all. Not even a little bit.
Needless to say we slept well. For the next two days we enjoyed the quietness of Vasalemma and Leenu’s easy-going demeanour. We played with the twins, read, updated the blog and repacked/re-evaluted stuff in our backpacks.
On the Friday we drove with Leenu and the twins to Tartu for Rax’s graduation. It was a fun drive with two tiny ones taking turns to be freaked out about the drive but Charlene saved us all by playing baby tunes and videos on her phone. Whoever said technology is useless? 🙂 We also stopped at a rest point where they sold pickles from a van (how estonian!) and Triin ran to it like a maniac.
Rax is Triin’s cousin and one of Leenu’s brothers. I had seen photos of graduations in the family before and knew about the tradition of making ‘fan posters’, though literally no one else at the graduation does the same. So, armed with homemade posters saying “Rax is the Estonian Nokia’ and “Send Rax to Space”, we celebrated Rax’s graduation from the Tartu Art School. We were all very proud of him 🙂 After the graduation Urmas (Leenu’s dad) dropped us off in Viljandi where we stayed for 2 nights in the same Airbnb as before.
There weren’t many restaurants in town, but they did have a fantastic sushi restaurant where we ended up about three times. One of those times we went with Pirjo and Marleen who were in Viljandi to visit Pirjo’s grandparents; we had dinner and loads of laughs, as per usual. Seeing Triin and Pirjo together is like knowing exactly what they were like when they were young, except they can drive and have alcoholic drinks, but it’s the ease of being around each other and the giggling that you know they are old friends.
The next day it rained for literally the entire day and we took it as a sign from the universe to catch up with ur blog and just chill, write and read. We also visited the awesome breakfast place next door called Roheline Maja. Their food is so lovely – try the buckwheat and cottage cheese pancakes! The next day we went to grandma’s house for cake, coffee and to say goodbye for some time, then boarded the bus to Parnu. Urmas picked us up at the other end and took us to one of my favourite places in the world – their house in Uulu.
Aivi and Urmas live in a beautiful house in the forest that they literally built themselves. They have 3 dogs and 5 cats and Merle’s kitten and one eyed cat Pirate joined later – I had never been so happy about allergy tablets being invented.
The Org house is always more about how you feel when you are there rather then what you did, it’s hard to explain except to say that it’s an extremely relaxing place.
They have a large 3 bedroom house and a separate cabin at the end of the enormous garden, where we slept. The first night is always an interesting experience, it’s the polar opposite of safety in South Africa – the doors aren’t locked, I mean the cabin doesn’t even have a lock. Then the bed is situated right next to the window with a forest view and at times you hear dogs bark in the distance. My reaction the first night is that someone is coming to kill us instead the dogs maybe saw a squirrel or something and my paranoia wasn’t helped when in the middle of the night Pirate is scratching at the door to let him in. After a night or two I started to relax, the same with the house. You arrive with all the noise in your head but after a day or two I chilled right out – I love it there. Aivi’s house is place where you learn to unwind, relax, quieten your mind, make plant food for more then 4 people usually, enjoy and appreciate the pastries someone made, soak up the nature and enjoy the lack of noise and cars.
Everything to me seems so different there, I love when someone cooked or baked, it’s like they thought of everyone and made this meal and I know it feels so good when everyone enjoyed your dish, like the time Triin made a vegetarian lasagne or Urmas’s famous salad. It’s so different to how I grew up – mom always cooked and it was a couple of hours’ process. Our house was always spotlessly clean and I feel like my mom was always busy and that we, her family, were her full time job and it was never a shared job. Aivi’s house is messy, filled with animals and love and everyone hopes someone will cook and someone always does – food just happens and if no-one could be bothered everyone eats leftovers or muesli. When someone decided to make loads of pancakes or a rhubarb cake and everyone helped themselves.
Also the days in Estonia is so long, that you feel you have 2 days in one and you learn to make the most of it. At 11pm it was still light outside. Rix (Leenu’s youngest brother) and Merle (Mrs Rix) once went to the beach at 9pm and I thought “well it is still light outside”. I feel that in the UK and South Africa I used to say that I’m doing this one thing tomorrow, but in Estonia the long days allow for many things and activities to fit into a single day without effort.
One of the days we went with Urmas to Triin’s grandma’s house. She also lives near Uulu but even further into the forest. Her house is small and cosy and she has a vegetable garden – it’s spectacular and apparently feeds the entire family for the year. I remembered the previous year Triin, me, Scott and Muge huddled around the sweetpeas section and just ate peas out of the pods, then moving to the berry bushes and helping ourselves. We were totally high on antioxidants! This time the strawberries were ready and any trip to grandma’s meant coming back with a large tub filled with strawberries. Grandma even made us pancakes (the best ones ever) with homemade blueberry jam, of course. I liked it there so much that i didn’t even care that Triin’s grandma tried to speak to me in Russian. LOL.
We went for a walk through the forest and it’s just the most beautiful place, we also walked by the river where she showed us where the beavers have been eating the trees. When Urmas came back we were put to work cutting loads of timber with a chainsaw for the stove. Ironically I was cutting the fire wood, whilst sweating because it was so hot and being eaten alive by the mosquitos. I was introduced to these tiny black flies and their bite doesn’t hurt but a couple of days later you have the bites on your body that looks like some biblical disease. I got bitten quite bad, they must have been really excited about this exotic South African buffet.
I celebrated my first Jaanipaev in Estonia. It’s a pagan summer solstice celebration and usually it means a lot of drinking around a bonfire followed by drunken attempts to jump over the said fire (‘to cleanse thyself’) only to fail and end up with burns. However, an family version of the same event involves food, a traditional bonfire and spending time with friends and family. It was good – Urmas had assembled a monster pile of firewood for the fire, we had a ton of food including the famous salad (see above!), grandma made a cake and a vegetarian BBQ… in the end we had to retreat due to being eaten alive by the mosquito thingies.
In the Org’s house there is always something to do: make dinner, mow the lawn, wash the car…Even relaxing is something to do. I enjoyed all of it: speaking to Urmas in English cause I know he doesn’t understand me and nor do I understand him responding in Estonian, picking strawberries with grandma, making Aivi laugh, watching Leenu and Matu be awesome, attentive and very loving parents and also a beautiful couple, I also enjoy my colourful conversations with Rix, Rax and Merle. I love how patriotic Urmas is and his enthusiasm for showing us his beautiful country.
I have realised that I do love Estonia and it’s people, especially Triin, more than loving Estonia I love the Org family. I was very excited to go to USA and first stop being New York City, but I was also nervous about changing my environment so dramatically from the forest to loads of taxis and loads of people and noise.
With dragging feet we left Uulu and headed toward Tallinn where we stayed the night at Pirjo’s. We met with Liis, Triin’s sister, for a nice dinner and catch up. She’s studying nutritional counselling so hopefully soon she will have set up her business! Back at Pirjo’s we had to laugh, due to her being in the middle of moving house, she had a air mattress for us to sleep on, however the mattress had several holes and we basically slept on the floor. Before bedtime, though, I managed to go to the beach with Marleen to watch the amazing sunset.
Tomorrow starts our 2-month tour of America.