18 Jun 2013 Latvia: Nothing like New Friends
At first, the suggestion to take a twelve mile hike through the black swamps of Kemeri seemed like a good idea. Whilst I am not usually the most physically active of people, I would never want to turn down the chance to discover something new. A love of nature and the desire to impress my new-found friends took over me.
We made our way along the trails, with the locals recounting the tales of the people that have gone missing here. Alongside dragonflies, I enjoyed watching a snake slither across our path; it was my first time spotting one in the wild!
We were then accosted by a host of mosquitoes. I have experienced many of them through my travels, but none like those in Kemeri. This was due to the bitter winter that Latvia had suffered, causing the lakes to freeze and many of the fish who would eat the larvae to die.
After swatting the swarm we reached a clearing containing a Soviet block ghost town. The walls on the ground floor of these monoliths consisted of only rusted wire fencing. Interest got the better of us and we entered through a hole in the fence. The ceiling had begun to erode and most of it could now be found beneath our feet. The foolhardy of the group decided to head for the open plan staircase. I followed closely behind.
Upon arriving on the second floor, it became apparent that many of the upcoming steps had collapsed. We decided to press on and continue with the ascent. I stood on the last step before the meter wide gap, taking a deep breath I jumped. As our mountaineering continued the staircase was clearly eroding beneath our feet.
One floor from the roof of the building I heard a voice inside me say “Stop!”
I froze where I stood and took a glance at the step on which my foot had planned to tread. Bending down I brushed away the sediment. It revealed a hole which clearly showed the 80 foot drop beneath me.
I made my way to the empty walls of the building, where whilst standing on the edge, I looked out at the breathtaking sight of miles and miles of beautiful forest, virtually untouched. Nature at its finest.
After putting the ruins behind us, we entered the forest, where we soon came upon a beautiful blue lake. It was here that we decided to rest our feet.
We sat at the water’s edge with a camp fire, eating burnt sausages and sharing stories. As the smoke fought away the remaining mosquitoes, it was time to lace our boots and find our path home.
About the Author: Robert Hotton is an Author and Musician from Guernsey, Channel Islands. His wanderlust has taken him from the dusty streets of Rajasthan (India) to the micro-climates of New Zealand, and many places in between. He is now in the process of writing down as many of his stories as memory will allow. If you would like to keep up with his adventures you can follow Robert on Twitter and Facebook.