Estonia greeted me with a bright blue sky. I hadn't seen anything like it for a week. I usually adjusted my expectations quickly to the circumstances and show no desire for better weather. But when I was sitting in the sun, I had to admit that there was nothing nicer than this. I stayed put, held my nose into the warm light, and closed my eyes, breathing in and out. This was good. All the stress travelling brought faded into the back of my mind. The greyness that had occupied my mind for the past days disappeared. I was safe.
It took me quite a long time to get from Riga to Nasva (on Saaremaa). The longest time consumed by waiting for different means of transportation. In Pärnu, I missed my bus to the island and had to wait two hours for the connecting bus and the ferry to Nasva. An elder Estonian sat next to me and began a stagnating conversation. He was sorry that he spoke only Russian, Estonian, Finnish, a little Swedish, and even less German. He had to laugh when I told him what languages I spoke. Between the two of us, we were able to talk eight different ones. Still, direct communication was impossible. Once again I realised how important it would be to learn Russian. The man looked old, and his skin (the skin of a long time smoker) didn't do him any favours. He wore worn clothes, spoke with a voice that sounded like a treadmill, and had no teeth left in his mouth. Since he didn't smell of alcohol and had a playful twinkle in his watery blue eyes, I decided not to take flight. He pulled a small Motorola mobile phone out of his pocket and spoke into it loudly. Then he pushed the phone on to me. Suddenly I talked to another gentleman. He understood a bit of English, but I had not mastered the game yet. Later, I realised what my new acquaintance was trying to do. Later, meaning after two days, when I wrote this text. Sometimes, I'm incredibly slow. I should have told him in English what I wanted to tell my elderly friend. It didn't come to that since my bus to Kuressaare came. Our conversation ended with a high five and a friendly wink. I was as glad that it was over, as I was glad that it happened. I love it when I realise that my default assumptions are dead wrong. The learning curve is that much steeper.
The crossing of the sea was heavenly. The water was coloured dark green, getting bluer in the distance. Between the mainland and the island, there was no cloud and no wind. At five o'clock in the afternoon, the moon was already high in the sky. The North was palpable. On the island, I saw the shadows grow longer. Magic hour. A fox ran across the meadow drenched in golden light. It was the first time in my life that I saw a wild fox. They are smaller than I expected.
The cold came as soon as the sun had disappeared. When I was sitting at the bus stop in Kuressaare and froze my butt off, I was already beginning to yearn for the fireplace promised by the Airbnb ad. Five young people were waiting for the same bus, a teenage couple, twins and a slender boy. When I got on the bus, after two hours of sitting in sub-zero temperatures, I realised the waiting room had been open to everyone, despite the bus stop being closed at 7 pm. The young people waiting with me were the only one OUTSIDE. My mistake. When I got off the bus in Nasva, my hostess picked my up from the bus stop. It was not far to the Airbnb, she said, but in the dark, it wasn't as beautiful.
The sky was full of stars. For the first time on my trip, it was not too cloudy, and I saw everything the sky had to offer on an island in the middle of an (albeit small) ocean. It was breathtaking. Candles lit the way to my attic. My hostesses mum had lit them for my welcome. The staircase led up the outside wall of a shed and creaked like little frogs. Once up there we were greeted by a strongly heated room. The fireplace burned brightly. My half-frozen bones jubilated, my smile grew wider and wider as I went deeper into the chamber. My hostess noticed. Again and again, she emphasised how brave I was to travel alone. I had learned that it was just that. Brave. No more. Brave means not to be afraid of unknown (and therefore potentially dangerous) situations or things. My hostess was a woman with a slight Irish accent. She knew the problems and decisions photographers faced since she was married to one and I felt understood without having to use too many words.
Usually, this place was booked by newlyweds. The room, decorated with lots of candles and romantic books, consisted of a tiny kitchenette, a slightly larger bathroom, a large bed and a sofa. It was perfect. As soon as M. had left, I discovered that the wifi didn't work. She had warned me that it would be weak, but I didn't get anything. So I unpacked my stuff, crawled into bed, grabbed one of the tear jerkers and thus slowly defrosted my limbs. Two hours later, my eyes closed. By that point, I was too tired to get rid of the ticking clock situated somewhere above my head.