A Lithuanian Treasure


A heavy wind was blowing in my face, rushing through my hair as I stood on the dock. With narrowed eyes, shielding them from wind and sun, I gazed at the small village that was Nida. I felt rested and calm, calm as the village seemed. My gaze diverged to the dunes on the left side of the village which I would soon ascend. A fifteen minute walk at most. These dunes stood high, taller than any I had ever laid eyes on. The Parnidis Dune, a drifting one. Always changing and always moving by wind and men. A girl about my age working oft with tourists in Nida had expanded my knowledge on dunes. Her skin was smooth and a cute smile covered her face. Every time she spoke, it was with a sprinkle of enthusiasm. As she handed me some brochures that ought to be of interest, she informed me about these white dunes, whitened due to a high percentage of Quartz. Having read said brochures, the Curonian Spit and its sea turned out to be much more than a pretty sight. History of sand blizzards, degenerating living conditions, places being sandbound and a continuous fight with the sand lies here. The nature here is fragile and therefore not everywhere is it possible to tread. My toes wiggled, thinking  of tiny grains of sand moving between them. For that reason I set out. The flip-flops bought during my trip in South-Africa were part of my outfit these hot, summer days. Shifting my hat, a gift from Reinhardt, I paced towards these mountains of sand.

The path led me through a forest, with turns and curves. It was a treacherous road, as it was filled with the bloodthirsty, annoying and almost mood ruining gnats that I have come to hate. Yet on a day like this, even a swarm of mosquitoes was not able to ruin my day. Four songs past, mainly hard rock I remember, with my list being limited to a dozen of songs, when I arrived. Where stone turned to sand, I kicked off my slippers and dipped my toes in the warm bath of sand. A sign caught my attention. “Do not climb the dunes”, it said. The sign indicated to not leave the assigned road there where the nature is fragile. Following the path, I near the sundial – calendar going high up. It looked impressive, however I had forgotten its existence as I looked around. The Nida settlement, open dunes, lagoon, sea and forests. I stared over the horizon facing Kaliningrad. For once my mind was at peace, rare, I enjoyed the moment. My lips arched into a smile. A stunning view before me of sand. Sand doesn’t sound beautiful, yet my eyes could not help but meander over every inch, taking in the differences, the colours and the abnormalities. As if I studied every individual grain, I stood there, astonished and excited. Of course, I have lied my eyes upon greater beauty, however that does not take away that this collection of sand had me in awe. Drifting away I leaned against a wooden beam. The border with Russian Kaliningrad was easily recognizable. Barbed wire across the plain field. Tracks on the other end following the wire. I imagined how easy it would be to sneak over. A family shook me to reality as I was asked to take a picture of them. A conversation began. At end, the teening child of the both took one for me offering to return the favour. Pleased with the result, I figured it time to take leave and figure what to do for the rest of my stay.

“Rent bicycles”, I had read somewhere. Nowhere a shop was to be found however. At least I know the opening hours now, I thought. So following dawn I stood ready where I was told it would be. A dozen of bikes stood before me where the day before stood none. Wandering around them, a man from the shades appeared. The hot sun had him scurried to the shadow. With a small napkin he wiped some sweat dripping from his forehead. The walk from his chair and the bikes had him puffing and wheezing. I pointed to my bike of preference, gave him my ID and after paying the small fee I was ready to go. The man departed back away from the sight of the burning eye in the sky. Once seated he took a huge sip of his seemingly cold beer. Quite early I figured. I left him to it and took off. Houses of colours, seeming cozy and welcoming, were found spread over the land . Ones with walls of wood entirely blue or red and ones of a darker red or brown with a tint of blue and white. It was a sight to make everything feel more warm and natural. On my way I found a spot of no more than six houses with a small restaurant. As my bike slowly passed the small settlement, I knew it to be the house to serve me my pre-dinner snack and a cold one for the day. Filled with sweet and kind people, most of German nationality, I would find it. Most visitors of the Curonian Spit, frequent visitors.

The long, beautiful, sunny day was filled with cycling and nature – roughly 20 minutes were spent searching the lost key to the bike… I laid my eyes on a forest grand taking over the land as far as I could see, watched the cold sea approach and take its leave with waves before diving in and strolled through the small villages. Everywhere I went, I was met with smiles. Two ice creams had entered my stomach that day. A beautiful day indeed. My evening was no worse, as Reinhardt and I decided to eat out. A kind waitress took our orders and both of us ordered enough to satiate our bellies for many hours. Again, I was not able to resist the delicious cold soup. With it I took hot potatoes and as final meal a delicious fish. A herring. Prepared well, the night I still dreamed of the herring. Another night on the ship, a night of drifting over the small movements rethinking all I did that day with a smile on my face. Tomorrow back to Klaipeda, for the Jazz festival. It would be a journey of wind in our back as we raced towards the city. The last few days I had met many people that made me smile, many kind and friendly ones. Having a place to sleep for nearly a week with the current and previous residence I was ready to travel further again. But first, Jazz!