Sunday May 18 – From Riga, Latvia to Vilnius, Lithuania
It sure seems like we have spent a lot of time on buses lately. I really don’t mind our travel days though. Today we were on the road for around 4 hours. Our time is broken up by looking at the beautiful scenery along the way, visiting with fellow travelers seated near us, listening to our guide, Agnes educate us about the local history and culture, take a nap, read, or play skip-bo on my iPad.
Agnes also entertained us with a music trivia game. For our stellar efforts we were rewarded with a shot of the local liquor, 40% proof. With an appropriate toast, it was down the hatch.
OMG, it did burn.
At our morning coffee stop, I checked out the local market and found some jarred items that I could not identify.
I could not believe it when I found out that there are TWO MORE people on our bus that have been to Guatemala numerous times to do volunteer work and they too know the same people down there. They are from Canada and work with the NGO, Poco a Poco. Anna is a dentist and her companion, Sue works with her sterilizing the equipment.
What are the odds, that on a bus of 39 people, 10 of us have spent time in one form or another trying to help the indigenous peoples of Guatemala.
The local currency here is not the Euro, it is the Lita. The conversion rate is 1 USD = 2.52 LTL.
In the afternoon I had booked an optional tour. It turned out to be gut-wrenching.
I was not prepared for our visit. I naively thought that we would be finding out a bit about the KGB’s spy methods, see some “tools of the trade” and maybe hear a few stories. What I did not realize was this building was an interrogation center, prison and execution center.
“During the occupancy of the 20th century, the following repressive bodies operated in this building: the Gestapo, and the KGB. The genocide of the population was planned here. Citizens of Lithuania were imprisoned, interrogated, tortured, and killed.” ~ inscription on the side of the building
I was horrified by the atrocities that were recounted by our guide and shown in pictures.
Hardest of all for me was seeing the wall of children’s pictures.
I have decided not to go into a lot of details about the interrogations, solitary confinement, torture, deprivation, medical experimentation, and methods of execution. It is too painful to replay for one thing. I can not wrap my brain around what kind of human being could commit these unthinkable cruelties upon another person.
As hard as this was, I’m not sure how I will manage at Auschwitz and Birkenau later in the week.
“May the names of Lithuanian patriots shot to death in this former KGB building bear witness to duty fulfilled to the motherland, it’s honour, freedom and independence” – sign on the outside of the building
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for mankind’s resilience. To know that some people have survived the unthinkable, were brave enough to share their stories, and then dedicated themselves to preserve the information so that future generations might learn. I pray that someday we will learn…