Some hours later I arrived Tallinn and quickly found my way out of the city centre and sped towards the Latvian border. Sometimes the car sort of jolted, like driving on a icy winter road, but I thought that could be because some shitty asphalt, oh how wrong I was.
Some hundred meters before the border traffic had to stop for red light in a intersection and I stepped on the brake. The brake paddle went straight to the floor and I realized I had no brake power. Now, that is really something you want to have when hurdling towards cars stopped in a intersection!! I began pumping the brake as I looked for a "safe"place to steer off the road and into the fields, but then got some action on the brake and managed to avoid crashing.
By pumping the brake regularly I managed to maintain pressure on the brake system but knew something was very wrong, and the closer I got to the Legenda HQ the worse the car became. As I parked by the local shop a km away from the farm the car was difficult to drive,made bad noises and it felt like it would collapse at any second and when I parked it safely by the farm building I don`t think it could have kept driving much more.
As I described the situation for Toms he had a theory what was wrong with it and called his mechanic and I handed him the keys happy to have a good friend like him.
We had some coffee and later drove to Riga to help Viktors Duks to move some furniture from an apartement into a van before Toms dropped me off by the hotel in Old Riga where I met up with Andris,Victoria and Kim,one of the diggers from Holland.
The next day the other diggers would arrive but we had other plans for the day. We were going to visit Sigulda.
We took a train to the lovely medieval looking city where we spent the entire day visiting castles,getting the sights and ate some amazing local cakes. For those looking for something special when visiting Latvia Sigulda is highly reccomended!!
Before 11 in the morning we were already into the mud. An old forgotten Soviet field grave was being opened. This was a very hard work as much of it was waterfilled and the soldiers here had been very uncarefully reburied in the early 50`s. Parts of soldiers was missing, and the sticky mud stuck to our feet and equipment, and it was a difficult job finding all the bones. In the end we got the job done and had recovered between 60-70 soldiers. The exact number we ll know after closer inspection of the remains which will get a official reburial next spring and hopefully their names added to the memorials and giving families a final closure.
Working in shifts some diggers worked in the graves and some were searching the fields and forests around. Between lots of ordnance some interesting finds was made such as a RSO transmission which took six strong guys to carry out of the woods, and we found a german MG position protected by S-mines and the field around it was full of exploded Katushya parts.
After dinner in the evening Andris began having trouble with his foot which was very worrying as he had a blister on the foot and working in the wet grave wearing boots which was not of the waterproof type. Now this can become very serious so he was rushed to the hospital and given strong antibiotics..
Matt has his 50th birthday coming up and the Latvians had prepared a nice gift and prank for him. When we were opening a trenchline Duksi pulled me aside and snuck a gift for Matt into my hand. I stepped in front of Matt in the trench and stuck it into the mud before my detector "started to act up". I asked him to check the signal while I "made adjustments" to the detector. He found the signal and dug it out. His face was hilarious to watch as he cleaned the find and saw it was a silver EKM with his name and birth date engraved. I think that was a great idea by the guys and it certainly made Matts day :D
At one point during those days Ivans came out from the forest calling out for some guys to help, he had found the remains of a fallen soldier. Finding the spot again proved to be difficult. He couldn`t remember the exact place and we went into the thick forest to try re locate it. Not only was the soldier lying there but he had left his expensive metal detector next to the remains. Luckily we had Mindaugas with us, an exellent pathfinder who managed to track it down and after a while we could bring the soldier back.
The diggers carried the coffins, each with a white rose attached to the lids and placed them nicely in front of the prepared grave at the cemetery, and soon locals,journalists,an ortodox priest and other officials arrived.
The weather was beautiful and warm and even though most of the International team do not speak Russian it was a very moving ceremony.
The priest did his part of the ceremony and so did the officials, but for me the most touching part of it was Regina. In a true warrior tradition spanning back to the Viking age she used her strong voice reading out the names of the ones that had been identified before Legenda placed the coffins in the grave,covered the coffins with pine branches and closed the grave before covering it all in a layer of pine branches. Next members of the local Russian community and Legenda placed flowers and wreaths in front of the grave.
I am so gratefull to have been a part of this,it was a full circle. We dug them out of the muddy forgotten grave and now we could give them a final resting place. Very, very moving.
The last evening had arrived and we had a great party together. I had made a gift to Legenda which was a great success, a german jerry can made into a minibar which I had filled with coca cola,Norwegian Aquavit and some snacks, and Legenda had gifts for some of the International team as well. Jon Potts showed us all that he is an awesome singer and songwriter when he played us some lovely songs. The Sauna was near the boiling point and the party ended in the early morning hours.
On Sunday we had to shake hands and give out hugs again as we departed for Riga and flights home. On our way back we made a stop at a roadside cafe were someone we won`t name locked the keys in the car,which seems to have become a Legenda tradition and Victorias Viking sword was used to try pry open the door, very entertaining :D
I wasn`t going to leave for yet some days and had a great time in Riga with Andris and Victoria. The ever so awesome Toms had my car fixed and picked me up early the day my ferry was leaving and Im forever in debt to him. The brake, ballbearing and ABS on one of the wheels had been totally ruined, some God had definately watched over me the last part of my drive to the Legenda HQ.
The trip had been amazing but the heat started to get on my nerves so I had begun longing for rain,snow and the cool degrees up north and it was fantastic to find shade in the deep hull of the ferry over to Stockholm. The car worked perfectly now and I was soon home to my furry little cat friends who was overjoyed to have me back, or maybe one of the cats was in revenge mode because the first thing she did was tearing up my very last roll of toilet paper. I better remember to buy her some fish for dinner tomorrow...
Until next time,Stay muddy and Happy.