Friday, March 25, 2011

Amazing Race Estonia: Leg 3

Here is your next clue: Make your way to Võru and meet up with TK, the director of the daycare center in Võru. She will give you your instructions. Warning: Road Block ahead

We got up this morning at 7:30 and helped ourselves to the free breakfast at the hotel. I had some cheese and turkey ham, plus a few pickles. And coffee...really good coffee. Caffeine is the best thing ever, especially when you are jet-lagged.

We left about 8:30 to head to Võru, not wanted to be late. Being late is extremely rude in Estonian culture.

So we got there about an hour and a half early.

We used the time to check out the frozen lake (people were ice fishing on it) and the local market. Then my classmate offered to teach me something I firmly believe every foreign service officer should know but I did not.

How to drive a stick shift.

Don't judge me...I had a traumatic experience with a stick when I was a freshman in college and haven't attempted it since.

And to my credit, I didn't stall the car even once. I didn't attempt any hills though. Baby steps...there was a lot of ice in that lot.

So we finally headed over to the daycare, now only 20 minutes early (well within acceptable arrival time in Estonia). The director, who it turns out is our instructor's first cousin, showed us around the center...it is pretty big and has more than 200 students between the ages of about 3 and 7. Estonia has no need for daycare for children under three because they have very generous maternity leave.

After we listened to some children sing and dance for us (they were VERY cute), we were treated to some excellent soup and some sort of bread pudding for dessert. It was very tasty. Then we walked around the city.

And here I will just insert that weather.com LIES! It had said no snow while I was to be here, and then only a day or two of snow. But it has snowed EVERY day.

Luckily, the roads have been great...until this afternoon. I'll get to that.
So we walked around town in the snow...it wasn't much snow...just fits and starts. But it was windy and cold. We walked to TK's home, accompanied by her son, who was along in case we needed a translator (he's a teenager...I think we bored him! And we only asked him for the occasional word anyway). We met their dog (not friendly) and their cat (nearly stuffed her in my pocket...so sweet!) and then walked though the park in town, past the Orthodox church, to the F.R. Kreutzwald museum. Kreutzwald was Voru's doctor and is famous for his writing, his scientific work, and much more. He penned the Estonian National Tale, Kalevipoeg, based on an old oral tale. He also did archaeological research, so he in now near and dear to my heart.

After we finished at the museum, we walked back down to the lake to see the statue of Kreutzwald. Then we headed to the kohvik (coffee house...remember the trend?).



ROAD BLOCK: Answer a series of questions about the cultural life of Voru. Each participant will have his our her own questions.

We each have individual assignments. TK asked about our plans for tomorrow, and when I pulled the schedule out of my pocket, I had with it my questions. She went through them with me and told me about what was available in this small town of 14,000 (answer...not a lot...they call go to Tartu or Tallinn).

We left the Kohvik and headed back to their house. At this point, the snow started in earnest. You know it is bad if an Estonian calls it a snow storm. In the 15 minutes it took to walk to their house, probably an inches was already on the ground. So we said quick goodbyes and headed back. The snow was really blowing for much of the trip...there were white outs at points.


There was even an accident on the way back...luckily no one seemed to be hurt. But the roads got crappy fast. Luckily, they use good salt here, so they also cleared up pretty quickly.

Make your way back to the hotel London in Tartu. This is your pit stop for this leg of the race.

1 comment:

SassAndSweet said...

Great pics and actual commentary on your trip aside... Congrats on driving STICK!! :)