In Latvia, you can’t win

I try to chat to my mother once a week on the phone and, over the course of our conversations, the blog usually comes up.

Me: So, what did you think of such and such a post?

Mammy O’Grady: Well, it was good, but couldn’t you try to be, I don’t know, a little nicer?

Me: You know I hate ‘nice’. Anyway, it really doesn’t matter what I say – somebody will disagree with it. 

Mammy O’Grady: Really?

Me: Really. I could write a blog about Latvian recipes and, er, cats, and they’d still find something to argue about.

And based on my experience over the last year or so, this is absolutely true. It seems that I really have managed to create the ‘Marmite’ of blogs on Latvia. To all the Latvians who have no idea what Marmite is, it’s a dark, sticky spread made from yeast extract, with a rather powerful taste. The slogan for Marmite is ‘Love it or hate it’. There is no grey area – much like this blog.

HATE it.

HATE it.

However, in the interest of appeasing my long-suffering mother, and anyone else who thinks I should be ‘nicer’ (pah!), I’ve decided to write a little dialogue based on various comments, reactions and conversations I’ve had since I’ve been here – a sort of ‘Linda vs The Latvians’ if you will.

Me: Hi, I’m Linda. Nice to meet you. 

The Latvians: Hi. Where are you from?

Me: I’m from Ireland. 

The Latvians: Oh, Latvian people love the Irish! You’re like our brothers, y’know? Your struggles with the English, our struggles with the Russians. We have a lot in common.

Me: I’d never really thought about it, but yeah, maybe you’re right! 

The Latvians: What are you talking about? You know nothing of the pain and suffering of the Latvian people. Latvia is THE MOST TRAGIC COUNTRY in the history of the whole world – what could you possibly have in common with us?

Me: Oh, OK. So, I guess that explains why everyone here looks so miserable then?

The Latvians: Well, that and the weather. 

Me: Yeah, true. Your weather kind of sucks.

The Latvians: Are you crazy? Latvia has THE BEST WEATHER in the whole world! Cold, snowy winters; hot, sunny summers – why don’t you go home to ‘your Ireland’ and the rain if you don’t like it?

Me: Well, I’m here now… So, what’s life in Latvia like in general then?

The Latvians: Fantastic. We’re over that pesky recession and the rising star of the Eurozone, y’know. 

Me: Yeah, I couldn’t help but notice all the BMWs, Porsches and Audis around Riga.

The Latvians: God, you’re so stupid. Latvia is THE POOREST COUNTRY in the world! Open your eyes, foolish Westerner! Try visiting anywhere that isn’t Riga and then you’ll see the real Latvia. 

Me: Well, I have been to a few places – Cēsis, Kuldīga, Liepāja, Pāvilosta, Bauska, Rundāle, Jūrmala, Sigulda, Jelgava…

The Latvians: You really are dumb. That isn’t the real Latvia. The real Latvia is hidden among the trees of our wonderful forests. 

Me: Oh yeah, the berries and the mushrooms. Right. Anyway… what is it with you guys and all the leopard print?

The Latvians: That’s not us. That’s the Russians. 

Me: I don’t know. I’ve seen Latvians wearing it too.

The Latvians: No, you haven’t. It’s 100% the Russians.

Me: Who’s she then?

5418017_ORIGINAL_1382092368.jpg

The Latvians: That’s the Latvian Minister for Culture, Dace Melbārde.

Me: Right. 

The Latvians: So, how’s your Latvian?

Me: It could be better…

The Latvians: Sigh. Latvian will be very difficult for you. Latvians are THE GREATEST LANGUAGE LEARNERS in the world. Unlike you Irish. 

Me: Yeah, I really should start making more of an effort with it. 

The Latvians: Why on earth would you do that? You should be learning Russian. Most people here speak it anyway and it will be far more useful to you in the long-run. 

Me: But I live in Latvia. I don’t want to learn Russian.

The Latvians: Rightly so. Latvia is THE GREATEST COUNTRY with THE GREATEST PEOPLE in the world. But you’ll never really get to know us. 

Me: Why is that? I’ve tried smiling and making conversation with people but most of the time, it’s like talking to a brick wall.

The Latvians: You smiled? What are you? Some kind of idiotic American?! We Latvians only smile when we really mean it. We are not fake like you Westerners with your toothy grins and your ‘How are yous?’ when you don’t even care about the answer. 

Me: But I do care! 

The Latvians: Pah!

Me: Sigh.

So, there you have it. ‘Proof’ that you really can’t win, no matter what you say. However, if you come to Latvia and you do decide to open your mouth – I advise against it – stick to a simple ‘No, no, please let me pay!’ This is (probably) the one phrase that won’t meet with any resistance.

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About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Culture and Traditions, Expat, Humor, Humour, Language, Latvia, Latvian people, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

228 Responses to In Latvia, you can’t win

  1. Sunshine says:

    Has anyone already translated this in Latvian? Would love to re-post it. It’s spot on! Everything I think about my own nation!

    2 years after I moved away from Latvia (to study), I went back for few months…. and got depression. I couldn’t figure out what the heck is wrong with me, why everything I do is wrong? I felt worthless, stupid and pretty much ready to give up on life. Yay.

    One year later, when I had been living away from all that negativity and pessimism I finally realized – it’s not me, it’s the people – the Latvian mentality.

    Within those first 2 years away I got so used to Danish (and British – not as much, but still) smiling happiness and positivism, and motivating way of talking, and “Happiest country in the world”, that Latvian “You are wrong, you are dumb, you have too high ambitions, shut up and stop dreaming” just completely destroyed my self confidence.

    Yeah, I love my beautiful, little country. ❤

  2. 1WriteWay says:

    Goodness, maybe some of the people I know here in the US are Latvians in disguise! Really, you are right that some people will always find something to complain/argue about no matter how nice and positive you try to be. That’s true no matter where you are in the world, although hopefully you’ll meet with fewer death stares elsewhere 🙂

  3. Elena says:

    This blog is genius. I was raised in Riga, but in a swedish family (long story), and I’ve always found the people and, well, everything here unbelievably odd – I guess I was just raised differently. Latvians tend to annoy me on a daily basis, so this stopped me from punching someone. I would have never imagined that someone else would have noticed things like the leopard print or the death stare (received like 5 today). That and the fact that it is written with humour made feel a bit better and less like me and my opinions about life have fallen from the moon – thank you. And I guess it’s the genes, because I wouldn’t really call myself a foreigner (for now, hopefully…:D).

    • Expat Eye says:

      Oh, thank you so much for this comment! This was exactly how I felt before I started writing it! I’m writing a new one tonight on how living in LV has changed me 😉 I still don’t wear leopard print but I do give the odd death stare 😉 Keep reading! Lovely to have another like-minded soul on board! 🙂 Linda.

  4. Pingback: The Latvians rewrite the English dictionary | Expat Eye on Latvia

  5. Baiba says:

    Strange thing – this blog entry makes me want to try marmite… Is something wrong with me?

    • Expat Eye says:

      Possibly 😉 It’s worth trying though – just have something you can spit into handy. And some mouthwash. But maybe you already carry those around with the antiseptic spray!? 😉

  6. lala says:

    I am Latvian living in “the Old Europe” and, oh, how I miss a good, hearty Latvian complaining session. Even though the French believe they are the greatest “râleurs” in the entire world but perhaps I am not that good in French to understand their “talent”. Therefore, I am really in AWE if I meet a Latvian over here to complain with 😀

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! A little taste of home 🙂 The Irish are pretty good at it too – as you may have noticed 😉 But hey, if you’re going to do something, do it right, right?!

  7. rower says:

    HEY! OBJECTION! you are totally right, despite of being soooo wrong. haven’t you heard of saying “two latvians, three (political) parties” ? now you have! and we are the friendlyiest, funnyiest, smartest ignorant dumbass bitches (and jerks) you could ever imagine to stumble upon! not to mention, that some of Janis’es are not called Janis (just like me, and i’m not). ,)

    p.s. it’s like 3 or 4 months, i’ve been reading your blog, and i’m absolutely fascinated. frustrated and excited at the same time. one can not write so much without loving being here a lot. keep it up (and remind me, that i promised to call you a drink of your choice).
    pps. sorry for typos.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Did you offer to buy me a drink? I have so many Latvians just dying to take me out… Not really 😉 Love your comment though 😉

      • rower says:

        did i? or i just said, that i’ll name you “blody Mary” (vodka, tomato juice, a drip of chilli) or that “sweet sunset on Malibu beach” (lots of kahlua, rum, orange), or “barrel of Brālis”. 😀 i guess, it’s not nationality specific interest. you seem to be much smarter than overwhelmingly large part of local population (or population in larger means), you have your own POVs and opinions, that you can prove, you are well educated and, hell, you have looks too. i even wonder, if you ever get rid of that long queue of saliva-dripping males (and chicks) trailing you constantly? you must be using quite a technique to drop off that tail, like going out in freezing winter (-20C) and trips to various non-habitated areas… i’d like to get out with you, maybe (oops, i said it) however, what i crave for would be some lessions of english. not necesserily tete-a-tete, however, definately in “eased atmosphere”. discussion club, word games, or something else, suitable for grown-ups, on a regular basis and without obligatory written homework. any ideas ? and no, i have not looked specifically for something like that, so far i beleaved, that my knowledge of english was fair enough to read most of technical literature and some other stuff, watch movies and TV cerea… series in original (english), and even to get a dime or two by translating something from (or rarely to) english. 🙂 and last, but not least – somewhere between lines i’ve seen that you’ve tried to learn latvian. i manage (or rather had created) a community of latvian learners and practicioners at livejournal, and it could be interesting to see your findings about latvian there 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        That could be interesting! My attempts have been sporadic and not terribly successful 😉 And I haven’t noticed any trail of saliva-dripping males or females – maybe they’re in leopard print camouflage… 😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        Just checked out Live Journal – everything is in Russian! Or Double Dutch as it is to me 😉

      • rower says:

        as for LJ – yes, it’s for historical reasons. at that time i thought i can not afford three working languages for a community 🙂 and as for “everything” … it’s one of those onion things, you know (just hiding a green trumpet-shaped ear under my helmet) 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Umm, yes!? 😉

  8. Mārtiņš says:

    “The Latvians: Fantastic. We’re over that pesky recession and the rising star of the Eurozone, y’know.”
    “pesky recession”? “Pesky?!” Average Latvian, I even dare to say an average non-English person wouldn’t know such a word.
    So, your’re falsificating dialogues! I think I caught you here!:)

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha, not so fast! I said ‘based on’ – that doesn’t mean word for word! It’s more the general sentiment than the actual words used 😉
      But I promise I’ll try not to falsificate any more dialogues 😉 I might use falsificate in a post though 😉

    • rower says:

      i know the word. ain’t me an average latvian? oh no, i’m not average, more like a typical underdog (ah, no, it _IS_ an average latvian attitude indeed). let’s discuss this in person, over a pint, or you prefer to hind behind the screen, and we should bring this to some open forum for more troll fun?
      p.s. indeed, simple english does not include “pesky” in its vocabulary. it even doesn’t include “vocabulary”, i guess. still, an “average” latvian knows a little more than those 800 something words, that constitute “simple” wordlist

  9. Daina says:

    As always, so funny. And I have no further comment. (It’s only Tuesday, but it has already been a looong week.)

  10. Nina says:

    I am familiar with those things people say. Both positive of Latvia and negative. Very often can’t imagine which version comes from whose mouth. I live here since half a year. Moved from Finland. (I left a comment once before I moved…. but you get a lot of comments;) I have had a nice time with Latvians and it has been easy for me to communicate with them and find friends and new customers (I am also a private teacher)… But I always start talking in Latvian (speak it not fluently but well enough to use it in any situation) They don’t seem to care that I make a lot of mistakes, which is good, that is different from my experience in many bigget European countries! And the unsmilyness is something I don’t notice so much, or the lack of how are yous, as that is almost the same in my home country… I acknowledge that the culture you come from affects it a lot the way how you perceive the reality in Latvia. It is most likely a bigget difference between Ireland and Latvia than Finland and Latvia. I think people here are so positive, even if they in general in the streets may look grim. That’s what I can say of the people I have talked with and got to know.

  11. Gunta says:

    I see that Daugavpils is missing from your list – I know, you must have heard all sorts of scary things about it, but it’s really worth going, just to get a full “Latvia experience”, with extra crazy Russian stuff.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi, it’s on my list! I’m just waiting until the weather gets a bit better. And yes, I have heard scary stuff about it – that’s the main reason I want to go 😉

  12. wasd says:

    Oh no, you found it. Our greatest secret of all. We never agree, or admire (in public). We will find something to complain or disagree with no mather what. That is something I love and hate at the same time about us. That defines latvian esence. It is like out purpose in discussion is to make an argument.

    • Expat Eye says:

      “That is something I love and hate at the same time about us.” That says it all really! 🙂

    • Piektdienis says:

      I don’t think it is sooo very Latvian though. English, according to some anthropologists, are the same:

      “When I make critical or even damning remarks about some aspect of English culture or behaviour, everyone nods gloomily in agreement, sometimes even providing supporting examples.from their own experience. But praise, however mild and anxiously qualified, is always challenged: I am accused of wearing rose-tinted spectacles, and bombarded with counterexamples — everyone has some anecdote or statistic that contradicts my observations and proves that the English are really quite an awful and unpleasant lot.”

      // Kate Fox, “Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English behaviour”

  13. DaOne says:

    I DISAGREE!

  14. lafemmet says:

    Yet another comment on the Marmite, never heard of it when I was in Ireland. I did try Vegemite in “the land down under.” Yuk Very interesting post. I am having a better experience with Serbia… but there is a down side. I am starting to know who the old men creepers are. They seem to be the only ones interested in “The American” even when I am with the little tyke. 😛 gag me!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ugh, horrible. You do get old men staring here. Actually no, that’s not fair – everyone stares 😉

      • lafemmet says:

        Everyone stares especially when they hear me speaking English. But this was the remark today. Him: “Amerikanka?” Me:”Da” Him: “Lepa iz gleda (you look nice)” ugh Yuk. I need a shower from the heeby jeebys he gave me. Hope the creepers leave you alone. I will have to steer clear of this one!

      • Expat Eye says:

        That is creepy! At least Riga is big enough that even if you do meet a creep, the chances of bumping into that same one again is slim! You could lock him in that toilet you found 😉

      • lafemmet says:

        good idea! 🙂

  15. freebutfun says:

    So marmite. Honestly? I can’t get away from marmite even in the blogosphere… (You have it in Ireland too?? I used to quite like the country…;) ) I live with a kiwi, and every time there is an Aussie around they get into this “conversation” about a few things, especially the marmite vs vegemite one. And as they both taste like something our Easter dish looks like (https://www.google.com/search?q=m%C3%A4mmi&safe=on&tbm=isch), I don’t really get it. Oh, did I miss the point of your post??? 😉

  16. Silla says:

    Amazing blog on Lativa 🙂
    One particular thing I noticed in Riga that is very very illogical. Try to stop a taxi with the roof light turned on and it almost certainly does not stop. Do the same at one with roof light off and chance is it will pick you up.
    Isn’t this light turned on supposed to attract potential passengers?
    I asked a local about this and she was like, so what, look for the green light. What green light? Inside the car the driver has a green LED he turns on when vacant.
    I’m confused. Others who can enlighten me?

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hmm, do you know, I’ve never really noticed that one! I can picture the green light now that you mention it though! Anyone??? 😉

    • eNVee says:

      Yes, I was wondering about the same (and I am a local one). Got an explanation later from taxi drivers. If he switches off the green light the tax-o-meter goes on, money is ticking. What do you do if you wish it doesn’t happen? Yeah, leave the light on. And the money is yours…

  17. eNVee says:

    Great post Linda! How could you forget to mention that fantastic conversation about Latvian police versus Russian. That was the best description of Latvians ever!

    You still owe us the picture of yourself in a leo print, drinking Brālis! For all the damage you have done to us, Latvia, Brālis, Arēna+Dinamo and our superior provincialism. You must pay for that!

    Cheers to your mother, at least someone still believes in Latvians! 🙂

    PS. Every time I’m having my morning shower… I just can’t stop smiling. You know why – I brush my teeth there and only with warm water. 😛

  18. Alisa says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog, it gives me that much needed smirk (cause no, no, still no smiling) and light feeling of nostalgia. It also reminds me why I will never return to live there. But please, pleaaaaase, don`t get infected with the Russian hatred bug, it`s bad for your mental health.

    Forget the haters cause somebody loves ya 😉

  19. isbergamanda says:

    I loved reading this post! Who needs to be nice when the truth is so much more insightful!?

    -Amanda at http://teachingwanderlust.com/

  20. Hi there Linda!
    Sorry for posting this on your blog but I don’t have an email for you so I hope you don’t mind.
    I’ve been sniffing around on your beautiful blog for a while and we’ve exchanged several comments and likes on the world of WordPress. I’m thankful for having found your blog as it is filled with wonderful observations and wit. That’s why I wanted to ask you to contribute to a little project I have on my little old blog.
    This year I’m indulging my love of fine blog writing around the world by exploring expats blogs in far flung and intriguing places.
    I was wondering if you’d be interested in doing a a short interview as part of my ‘Blogging around the world’ page. I am being totally self indulgent by exploring the background and people behind my favorite travel and expat blogs.
    Hope to hear from you soon on rochelledelborrello@gmail.com
    Cheers!!!

  21. Did you try “Iesala ekstrakts”? Should be something like marmite. And Iesala dzēriens is made from that ekstrakts- nice one.

    Regarding all that dialog- that’s pretty much true since provincialism is really deep in the Latvian blood. We don’t know what moderate means. That’s why all this circus with rising economy and “we are the best in the EU in regards of [name it yourself]”. Most of people can’t take the fact that we can be somewhere in between. We should be either the first (so we can be a proud small nation) or the last (so everybody has a topic to talk about with us). And it’s not easy to change that because our own mentality is very young unlike your Irish. It takes time to calm down and realize your place on the map.

    I’m not waiting from you to drop down your sarcastic style, just give as handicap and we’ll show you the real colors.

    P.S. Somehow our “slow” neighbors- Estonians are developing faster their own path.

    • Expat Eye says:

      That might have been their cunning plan all along – make everyone believe they’re slow while they’re secretly steaming along 😉 Like a duck – calm on the surface but the little legs are going like crazy underneath 😉

      And trust me, I don’t want to try anything that vaguely resembles Marmite – it is foul!

  22. LigaFromRiga says:

    As for learning German, have you come across this video? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlATOHGj9EY

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha, yes I have! Love it 🙂 Very motivated so far – but I haven’t started yet 😉

      • LigaFromRiga says:

        It might sound inappropriate after your post, but German really is easy to learn if you are Latvian 🙂 Although English is a Germanic language, they don’t have so much in common.
        I loved living in Germany and also felt safe there when hitch-hiking through Europe and sleeping pretty much anywhere the darkness caught us.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Your first comment doesn’t surprise me 😉
        I’m not sure about hitch-hiking and sleeping under the stars but it’s good to know it’s an option!

  23. peter pan says:

    It’s because the way you present it. If someone suddenly would start to call irish people ” gumpy boozie little dvarfs”would you be very happy about it?So sometimes maybe it’s just better to keep your negativism to yourself.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Maybe you should try to develop a sense of humour. Just saying… 😉 And if someone called me a grumpy boozy little dwarf, I’d laugh – mainly because there is some truth in it 🙂

      • rigaenglish says:

        Yeah but what it is it with some of the locals slagging off Irish people for drinking anyway?! I mean Linda, when you had the KJauns stuff, a lot of the commenters where saying things along the lines of “Irish people just sit in pubs all day watching football, while Latvian men are too busy going to the theatre and opera and doing other culture vulture stuff to bother with low brow boozing.” Like, seriously? Yeah, Irish people drink nearly two litres of beer for every one that Latvians drink, but Latvians drink 2.5 litres of spirits for every one that Irish people drink. Overall, in health terms, Guinness versus cheap vodka…. well you don’t need to be a doctor to work out which one is more likely to shorten your life. Pot kettle black?

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yeah, it is a bit rich 😉 The most cultural excursion most Latvian men I know have been on is a trip to Arena Riga 🙂

      • Jude says:

        You’re so gumpy! You should booze more

      • Expat Eye says:

        🙂 Yay! Permission!

      • For the first time it might be funny, second time – a smirk, third and other times – it would become simply annoying.

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’m Irish. We get it everywhere we go. And yes, from Latvians too. The difference is most Irish people can laugh at themselves.

  24. bevchen says:

    This is hilarious. It must be tough living among people who are the BEST and WORST at everything… at the same time!

    I hate Marmite by the way. Can’t even stand the smell of it.

  25. oksana says:

    Haha.. you made me smile! True that!:))

  26. Made me chuckle 🙂 I think you toned down a bit and your example is not the most extreme one, because of real latvians are able to make 2 or more conflicting statements in one sentence unprovoked 🙂

  27. Anna says:

    This was hilarious. You would probably have a similarly dichotomous experience in Russia: hey, there’s more to Russia than vodka and snow! Now, would you like some vodka to warm up from all that snow?

  28. They sound like Beijingese, which is kinda scary…

    • Expat Eye says:

      Don’t tell them that – they’re UNIQUE dammit! 🙂

      • True story:

        I went to dinner with a friend in one of the hippest area in Beijing with lots of bars and clubs around the entire location. The restaurant was packed but since it was summer, the patios were open and I got there early enough to get seats. The friend brought along another friend and also brought along a girl doing some part time studies in China. My friend had emigrated to Canada a long time ago and came back to Beijing to do some business because she was bored. Her friend also emigrated to Canada but she had just came back to Beijing not so long ago. This person is a local Beijingese. The third girl was an uni student doing some kind of scholarship sponsored social studies thing in Beijing from the west. (It’s been 8 years, forgive my memory)

        Anyway, the dinner went on and everything was fine. Even though we secretly rolled our eyes at each other when the Beijngese started her non stop complaints about how “sucky” life is in Vancouver. (we almost wanted to start a drinking game, whenever she complains, take a shot. Then we realized that we won’t be able to walk home if we did that) Vancouver restaurant scenes were lacking! Well, if you only eat Chinese food… Vancouver club scenes were lacking! Well, if you can’t dance… There is nobody to talk to in Vancouver! Well, not if you never learned English after 3 1/2 years and only stayed in Richmond where you don’t need English to survive? Vancouver Spa scenes were lacking! Well, I am not sure if anyone in Vancouver are willing to take Chinese wages to rub your nasty feet…

        I can go on, but I’ll stop there.

        Anyway, the dinner proceeded fine, with the air of “how long do we have to put up with this ignorant arse for” lingering over the meal. Then the main dish came and she blew her lid.

        The main dish is Pineapple fried rice stuffed in a (hollowed out)Pineapple. Apparently, the Pineapple they gave us was smaller and later than the couple that came after us. The waiter had 2 pineapples, and the couple’s table was technically closer to the restaurant’s door (we were on the patio outside). She blew her top. Wouldn’t hear the end of it. She chewed out the waiter in front of us. More wait staffs appear to try to sooth her, to no avail. We were angrier than she is. Of course, we were angry about her, and not the food.

        Her essential argument was, she is an old Beijingese, she deserved better service and treatment! How dare they gave us a smaller Pineapple! And After the couple that came later no less!

        The manager eventually came, and as a manager of one of the busiest restaurant in one of the most happening area in Beijing, he handled her like a baby. It’s like YoYo Ma and Cello. She was eventually appeased and we were able to actually eat the pineapple fried rice (now).

        It wasn’t until later that I learned this (kind of thing) was a performance. Old Beijingese do this to show their superiority and show off their so called sophistication and their ways about the world. Look at me! I am special! I am obnoxious and I get things done because I said so!

        I always wondered that if the reason some of these Beijingese immigrants who had trouble to immigrating to Canada was because they didn’t dare to abuse wait staffs, service people or others. It would take all the fun out of their lives.

      • Expat Eye says:

        She probably wouldn’t have survived dinner with me 😉

      • lol, now I think about it, wouldn’t it be fun to take her to the naked restaurant? Or the secret agent restaurant where we can loose her in one of the old spy tunnels never to be found?

      • Expat Eye says:

        Or where monkeys or lions could attack her 😉

      • Hm…, go to the wild game restaurant where I can eat alligators and watch her getting served to alligators? 😛

  29. It’s funny and it’s so damn true 😀 I guess we are small nation at the Baltic sea, who are incredibly envious. True latvian will always find something wrong with the situation he’s in – we have to uphold stereotypes about ourselves 😀

  30. And yet I’ve had so many arguments in so many places over offering to pay for things.

    The recipe thing is totally true, you know. Check out this tortilla anger:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/25/dining/a-potatos-postcard-from-spain.html?_r=0

    Hat tip to le cup en rows for pointing it out:
    http://leculentrelesdeuxchaises.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/bachelor-food-tortillas-for-one/

  31. Too funny Linda. I’m going to have to pass on the Marmite though. I know I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but that doesn’t look too appetizing. I wonder who even created it?

    • Expat Eye says:

      The Brits I think! Vegemite is the Aussie relation. They decided to do something with the leftover yeast from brewing. Should have just binned it 😉 Disgusting stuff – I did a ‘British Food’ lesson with my kids at the summer school once and gave them Marmite – never again. The clean-up operation was not pretty!

      • barbedwords says:

        Marmite is FANTASTIC!! Marmite on toast with a good cup of tea is THE BEST BREAKFAST EVER!!! However, I can’t seem to get the Italians to like it either…their loss.

        Loved this post, absolutely hilarious 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Thanks! 🙂 And you’ll never convince me of the benefits of Marmite either 🙂

  32. Hi Mama O’Grady! I’m assuming you already know who I am as Linda presumably talks about me a lot… You do talk about me to you mum, right Linda?

    And look at that. Still reading you. Even when I’m on holiday.

  33. Laine Aizupe says:

    Haha 😀 Great post! We Latvians really tend to be a bit schizophrenic in our views.. sigh

  34. M.E. Evans says:

    hahahahaha. Oh it’s painfully familiar. I love this post. I am laughing my ass off right now. It’s hard when being disagreeable is part of the culture. Italian culture isn’t disagreeable but it’s incredibly pessimistic. Everything could be better, nicer, easier, unless I say it and then I’m insane because I’m foreign. The blog thing is always hit or miss though. Some people love my humor, others think it’s too crass and terrible. Some people hate it when I’m serious and others prefer it. Blogging means always pissing SOMEONE off.

    Great post babe! And more pictures! I googled Latvia pics but I want to see more of your area. I’m really curious!

    • Expat Eye says:

      You probably don’t want to see more of ‘my’ area 😉 That’s what got me into trouble the first time round!! And I totally understand what you’re saying! When I poke fun at something, people tell me I should be writing about serious stuff like the economy and social issues. When I do, I’m ‘not qualified’ to write about such matters – go back to writing about toilets and Janises 🙂 Like I say, you can’t win!
      I guess we could both just write really dull travel blogs but where would be the fun in that 😉

  35. nancytex2013 says:

    Okay, so I’ve actually been meaning to write about Marmite for a couple days now.
    Several months ago a blogger from Australia, Baz The Landy, ran a blog contest, and the winner got a fancy Australian (genuine) cowboy hat thing. There’s a proper name for it, but I can’t remember. Anyway, I won, and my package included the hat, a bunch of boxes of cookies called Tim Tams, of different flavours [and they were delicious!], and a jar of Marmite (or vegemite, can’t remember which). I opened the jar and smelled it and decided to put off tasting it. Months and month passed. Finally, Friday, I decided to try the stuff on some toast I had made for breakfast. How bad could it be, I asked myself…

    Sweet baby jeezus. What. The. Fuck. Is. That. Shit????

    Rant over. (and blog post no longer needs to be written). 🙂

    p.s. Loved your post. It’s amazing more people don’t move to that wonderful country. 😉

  36. snaipere says:

    Your post reminds me of this:

    http://spoki.tvnet.lv/joki/You-know-you-are-Latvian-or-have-been/155788

    The point nr. 24: “you consider Latvia the best and worst place on earth – at the same time” Haha, so true!

  37. angelinahue says:

    Brilliant! Here’s one place where the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side…

  38. TRex says:

    You stopped drinking didn’t you? Don’t you know that you’re not supposed to stop drinking? Quick, run and get a nice adult beverage, right now!

  39. Hate marmite, love your blog. Am a cake-obsessed anomaly, me.

  40. Mārčuks says:

    Hey, Linda! But did You notice that the Vanšu tilts was illuminated green in honor of the St Patrick’s day? We are reforming!:)

  41. mu-ha-ha-ha! LOLing and trying not to break a rib or two while laughing. Though in the light of some developments in Ukraine and in particular in the Crimea, I think Latvians might reconsider the part about “The Latvians: Why on earth would you do that? You should be learning Russian. Most people here speak it anyway and it will be far more useful to you in the long-run.”
    Oh, oh, and I have another one for you. Since Latvians and Lithuanians are basically brothers and have lot in common, I say some Lithuanians would also disagree with every point you make or they’d even bring it further – brotherly competition would demand of us to trump every Latvian card and raise the stakes 😀

  42. I am reading your blog already approx 3-4 months, and i have to say – you are damn right 😀 Almost all the time… Thanks for doing this – Latvians nowadays needs to be pushed back to reality 🙂 And still, i am proud of being Latvian :)))

    • Expat Eye says:

      See, a Latvian would be right ALL THE TIME – that’s where I let myself down. That ‘almost’ keeps me awake at night 😉 Thanks for reading Krista and I’m glad you like it! Linda.

  43. That made me laugh. 🙂 It must be tough living in Latvia where EVERYTHING IS THE BEST IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!

  44. Latvija ir lielākā valsts ar vislielāko cilvēku visā pasaulē. Bet jūs nekad tiešām iepazīt mūs.

    (Hooray for Google Translate, even if it gets the grammar completely wrong…)

    • Expat Eye says:

      Well, it’s not like I can correct it – I’m Irish, remember – Latvian is VERY DIFFICULT for us because we’re not the best language learners in the world 😉

    • rower says:

      literally translated back:
      Latvia is the biggest country with the biggest human in the world. but you never really to know us.
      hell, i hate google translate. even if it gets it OK while translating TO english, it rarely gets it well while translating FROM english. especially, if the other language has flexive forms of any kind (and latvian has). not to mention the cases when wrong meaning of words is chosen. please, use GT as the last resort for translation.

  45. lizard100 says:

    My mother (from the same place as yours) says. “What are you doing that blog thing for? What are you writing about? Who reads it? Do they know who you are? I don’t know why you’d be writing that stuff!”

  46. Just like Vegemite! and I love it! Vegemite and this blog! 😉
    Cheers to Latvia! 🙂

  47. Jude says:

    Does your mum read the comments as well? If so, tell her I say hello! Great post as usual, but a Latvian would have written it better.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yes, she does. She’ll probably kill me for this one. And yes, you’re right. Latvians are THE GREATEST WRITERS in the world too 😉

  48. Jens says:

    +1

    Well described. Regards to Mammy O’Grady, this IS actually what we foreigners meet here.

  49. rigaenglish says:

    I taught the lovely lady in the leopard print until she got promoted. She’ll hate you for calling her Melnbārde when it’s Melbārde, but what’s another complaint among many? 🙂 I think the fact that you and other bloggers (ahem) get little credit for the positive posts you write about the country but get jumped upon from a great height as soon as you say anything negative says it all. I mean probably 90% of the content and pics on mine are of areas around Riga, yet I’ve still heard a couple of people dismiss it derogatorily as a “Drinking game.” Sigh.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Oops, will fix her name now! And yes, a lot of people only comment when it’s negative. I can write 5 positive posts in a row – not a peep. Then a negative one and BAM, they all come out of the woodwork – ‘you only ever write negative stuff, blah, blah, blah…’ 😉

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