The start of a new adventure!

Now that Pittsburgh is just a memory, I am starting to get ready for my next adventure! 

It amazes me that I have only briefly mentioned my heritage to this point because it is a very large part of who I am.  My family emigrated to this country after World War II from a little country called Estonia.  I was the first one in my family to be born in the U.S.   These days many of you may have heard of it, because in 1991 it regained its independence after being annexed into the Soviet Union by means of the Yalta Conference  in 1945.  (That’s a history lesson for another day!).   But as I was growing up, the usual response was, “What and where is that?” See #15 on the map of Europe below. 

  map_of_europe.jpgmap_of_estonia.jpg

Caught between two sides of the war, many Estonians were forced to flee their homeland.  But Estonians are a fiercely proud people and even during occupation, never lost hope to regain their sovereignty again.  This was probably most true for all the Estonians that took up residence in the U.S. and other countries that gave this group of displaced people a home.  In the 60’s and 70’s, the Estonians, here and abroad lived in pockets of concentrated areas and formed social communities in which to keep connected and to instill a sense of national pride in their children.  I was one of those children.On my mother’s side, only my mother, her step sister, and my grandmother made it to this side of the world.  My father was the only one in his family to make it here.  My mother and father met in this country.  Unfortunately, we lost touch with my mother’s side of the family. 

However, my father managed to stay completely connected with his and so it is with his side that I still have family ties.  Once Estonia regained independence, my father made lengthy annual trips back home until his death in 1996. Fortunately, I was able to join him in 1994, when I met my extended family for the first time.  I have been back in 1996 to carry his ashes home and again in 2003 to introduce my new family to everyone.  With each visit, I become closer to the relatives, that in my childhood were only names in a very strange land where no one was free to move about.  Not anymore!

Once my children were old enough to make the trip, we decided that we would make the trip every three years.  Unfortunately airfare is so very expensive due to the low demand.  So here we are 3 years later, tickets in hand!  The best time of year to visit Estonia is in June.  Estonia is on the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska.  The summer season is very short, but if the weather cooperates – perfect.  Low humidity, moderate temperatures in the 80’s.  And the best part:  virtually no darkness!  The sun sets only for a brief period around 3:00 a.m.  It’s like getting two days for every one! 

In 2003, we were especially lucky with the weather, when the bay of Riga, with its beautiful sandy beaches and shallow water made for a perfect beach vacation.  Very unexpected!  We have our fingers crossed for more beautiful weather!

I could go on and on – but suffice to say, we will be gone June 17 to July 9.  I am hoping to be able to post from Estonia.  Technologically, they are on par with the rest of Europe.  My cousin had broadband on the farm, before we had it in the suburbs!  There’s something to be said for coming in late on the technology curve – you start right with the latest advances, instead of struggling from the beginning!

Anyway – I have more to tell you about the trip before I leave, so stay tuned!

Helle-May

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