Author: Mariela Georgieva
Have you ever wondered why the day has 24 hours? Have you ever felt sorry that it is only 24? I have. I am the one who likes to think about these things and complain that 24 hours is not enough. Or I was. I think I generally managed to prove to myself that 24 is the perfect number and it is completely enough for everything. I had the most fruitful 24 in my life and I would like to share them. Take this as a guide how to spend 24 hours of your life or just as a story which I would like to remember and to dedicate to all the great people I met during my voluntary service in Lithuania.
8:40 a.m. Saturday morning – Me and mano darauge (lith. my friend) Magdalena were trying to close silently the door of the volunteers’ place in Kurtuvenai. Leaving for another hitch-hiking trip in a good mood we were discussing the tasty pasta we had last night with our Brazilian, French and German friends.
This is the way our morning started – being happy that we were feeling at home in a place we didn’t know with people we didn’t really know just because they were like us, just because we were a part of the volunteer family.
We took the way to Riga – 150 km, it is such a short distance that we would feel really sorry if we didn’t try to visit the capital of Latvia. As usually, we met a lovely old Lithuanian couple with whom we spoke German, Lithuanian and English and we had a really good conversation.
Two hours later we were already standing near Joniskis waiting for the next car. And there was the first car passing – the first car passing that also stopped. Unfortunately, it was one creepy old guy with golden teeth, so we simply said that we were going to another place and let him go on his own. We were so cool – making jokes that we might be hitch-hiking, it might be cold but we are not that desperate to take any car, we are so cool – we can choose. But 10 km further half an hour later we started changing our minds. Me and mano drauge were standing in the middle of the road and there were no cars coming. In fact, there was something else coming – the rain, the Lithuanian rain.
So, we spent quite a long time on this road, getting really wet, trying to get dried, trying to get a ride. You may think this is not interesting that it doesn’t sound active at all or whatever but I think it is important just because of all the feelings we had, which I am not able to describe properly: we were mad and desperate and optimistic and tired and lazy and much more. Then I started making a small sign that we were going to Riga. People say that it is helping. So I tried…and not more than 15 min later mano drauge was relaxing at a bus stop on the opposite side of the road when I got 2 cars stopping at the very same time. I am so proud of myself.
14:00 p.m. Riga – 5 hours are quite a long time for 150 km, but…that was our luck. The point is that we succeeded. In Riga, we were almost running to see as much as we can, because we had to go back for a party in Kaunas. So I was the guide to mano drauge and I really loved it. She was tired of me trying to find some stupid places in the opposite direction, but she was following me and relying on me, which means a lot to me.
Riga is beautiful, we both love it. We loved walking around and meeting people who are “just taking pictures for National Geographic”, and listening to German language because of the tourists everywhere. Also, Germans played an important role on our trip. Walking around the center trying to see as much as we can, we met other 3 Germans, with whom mano drauge started talking as she is German herself. I was just standing next to her pretending I didn’t speak nor understand German. It was a short talk, the guys were giving us advice what to visit, like the tower that is definitely worth visiting. After that our embarrassing answer followed that we hadn’t exchanged any money and that we would stay only for a couple of hours, as we were poor volunteers from Lithuania. But the guys just said they admired what we were doing and then something unexpected happened – they decided to give us money to visit the tower. They gave us 15 lats which was a lot of money for us. So we headed to the tower. On the way we met another German, a cool guy travelling around the world on his bicycle. He had amazing stories to share. We were already at the entrance of the tower when we met another German group who just had one spare ticket and they gave it to my friend – The German. Eventually, I had to buy the ticket for myself which was only 2 lats, which was funny because the guys gave us 15 lats.
17:00 p.m. On the tower – the view was really worth seeing. And the money was worth paying although we did not pay anything ourselves. As you can imagine, it was full of tourists. And as friendly and open-minded people as we are, we had to make conversation with someone – our victims were 2 Finnish people. After the short conversation they invited us for coffee which we would love to have but we were running out of time.
So we spend 1 hour more running around the old town trying to see everything and we had to head back to the highway where we could catch a car. Leaving Riga and having so much money we decided first to buy some postcards for friends and then we stopped in a sweetshop to get some energy for the hitchhiking. And this sweetshop had – I cannot even describe it, the best sweets I have ever tried.
Thanks to the German guys we even had some money left. They are still waiting for us in a small plastic bag for the next time we decide to visit Riga.
6:10 p.m. Trying to get to the highway. We were prepared, we have stopped earlier in the tourist information point and we got the number of the bus we needed. Unfortunately we did not get the timetable, so when we arrived at the bus stop it turned out that the next bus is coming in 1hour and 50 min. Riga – I have always thought that we would run around the sightseeing places and meet cool people but I never thought that we could stand on a bench at the bus stop and enjoy it. But this is what friends are for. We had a nice conversation which made the time passing very fast.
8:30 p.m. On the main road near the highway. We were there finally. And it was dark already. And there was the party already starting in Kaunas but we were still about 250 km far from it. So we were relying on good people again. We just lifted our thumbs when a Latvian guy stopped for us. He was a policeman – now a part of our collection of unique drivers – who took us only about 50 km.
Past 9 p.m. – after the policeman had dropped us off, it turned out that we were in a village or small town in Latvia having no idea where exactly we are. But the thumbs were up again. Few minutes later there was something like an old small bus stopping – full of males inside and a driver who spoke only Latvian. He was shouting at us not trying to explain us where he was going at all, so we turned the ride down again. But we were luckier than the last time – very few minutes later there was a car with 2 boys speaking English who stopped for us. They were on their way from Tallinn to Germany but they were also passing our place – Kaunas. It turned out that they were not only Estonians, but also Russians. We had a great ride with them – a nice conversation, a lot of laugh and traditional home made dishes from their mothers.
11:45 p.m. Kaunas – they dropped us on the highway just before the city. It was not too far and as we were tired of sitting, we decided to walk. The party was still waiting for us. The greatest risk for hitchhikers is to be run down by a car. Yet we were walking fearless on the main road. Although we were in Kaunas, there still was not much light. So, we had been walking by the road and chatting as usually when I turned and realized that mano drauge is not there anymore. Wow, that scared me. She was in a hole – a bit more that 1 meter deep hole, not wider than 80 centimeters in diameter. Luckily, she was OK, so I only pulled her out, checked her wounds and…we continued. We can’t stop just because of some evil hole. But yeah, that wasn’t really nice. Because of this incident we walked to the first taxi and we took a paid ride to the center of Kaunas where the party was.
00:30 a.m. – We were at the party, finally, and the people were happy to see us. It was an intercultural party – Germans, French, Brazilians, Spanish maybe somebody else and me – Bulgarian. The party was like most parties, that is fun. I enjoyed playing some kicker and showing an example how to play this game. And our company got mixed up with a company of Scottish people who were here for some basketball game.
3:30 a.m. The party was going great when the owners decided that it is time to close. So they basically kicked us out on the street. The group of Germans, Scottish, Spanish, French etc. had to find another place. So, we were walking on the main street trying to find a warm pub to finish our night, but mostly we were just standing and discussing the typical Scottish kilt and its use in such a cold weather. There was even a creepy drunk Lithuanian guy who was singing some songs to me. And here the good story ends.
The bad story – while I was trying to get rid of the creepy guy, mano drauge came to me and said that a car just ran over a girl. And that was not a joke. We were in the very center, mostly pedestrian line and not more than 50 meters from us there were 5-6 Lithuanians doing the same as us – just talking. But it turned out that a car passed us and ran over a girl from the Lithuanian company. Some of our volunteers immediately went there to help, other were too drunk to realize what had happened. And there was the girl, lying on the street, no blood, but she was lying on the middle of the street unconscious. So we waited for the ambulance and did our best to help. Meanwhile 2 of the Lithuanian guys started fighting because of adrenalin and even the police couldn’t stop them. Things like this happen, even in the perfect 24, or I should say it was only the perfect 20.
The ambulance took the girl and we didn’t know what happened next. So, we had to continue the party or at least that was the idea of some people. It was difficult for me to believe it, but the alcohol was their advantage in this case. Then we headed to place where we could buy alcohol non-stop. And that was it. We just headed. It took us 1 hour to decide how to get there and one taxi driver who tried to cheat us. It was actually one out of four taxi drivers, because we were a lot of people. And we were there just standing, trying to decide what to do. Singing, dancing and some of us having fun. Me personally, I was too shocked because of the accident and I wasn’t up to any party anymore. So me and mano drauge spent one more hour trying to convince the people to go to sleep but they were not willing to hear us.
5:30 a.m. we were still in front of this place for alcohol, but we hadn’t bought anything yet. Me and mano drauge were in a trap – we couldn’t go anywhere to sleep because we were relying on our hosts and we were freezing and not interested in the party anymore. And there was the daylight coming again. So…at the end of this 24 we decided that we can hitchhike back home – Vilnius and sleep in our own beds. We left our friends to keep on partying and we headed to the highway again.
7:00 a.m. – we were already freezing when we finally got a car. Guess what the driver’s job was? He was a fireman! Who was also cheating on his wife but that is not important for our story.
A bit after 8 the driver dropped mano drauge off close to her place and took me to my place. And a bit later – I finished the 24 in my own bed, convincing myself that if I get some sleep I will be able to believe that everything that had happened was true, but it did not help. It was unbelievable. But that is how life is.
This story is 100% real.
No animals were harmed during it.
One person got injured, but we wish her good luck and we hope she is fine now.
This story took place in 2 different countries; it involved more than 10 different nationalities and so many different places.
Everything happened in 24 hours.
This is one of the winning articles of the Mladiinfo Article Writing Contest. The content of the articles does not necessarily represent the view or the position of Mladiinfo.