Re-Entry Part 1

By now living in another country could come as no surprise, right? I have now lived here 7 years. But every time I make reentry into this land I find that things still surprise me or seem to smack me in the face with how just very different these two cultures I know really are.
Today was my first day „out” after having been 2 months in the states. Our technical pass had expired on our car which bounds us to home unless renewed. But to do that first I was supposed to go get the tires switched to the winter ones.
After wiling my way from the kids I went to get into the car. I was horrified to be greeted with mold growing here, there and everyone in our car. Mold on the seats, belts, flaps. Yuck, who could imagine what two months can do when live in a damp climate.
I drove to the place to get the tires switched- hoping no police would be out. I made it and waited 20 minutes in the cold garage while two men switched my tires. Brr.. . . I should have dressed warmer. I paced the floor of the garage trying to keep my toes warm.
Off to the next place to pay the road taxes and try to get at least a one month pass, in which we can drive and fix the list of things to be repaired on the car. Wow, $360.00 for 2 years of road taxes- and that is with our large family discount. Yikes!
I drove to the line waiting to have their cars inspected. Keeping my window open a tad to keep the windows from fogging over- our fans, vents, heat and the whole system stopped working before we left two months ago. The mold on the dash stinks and I open the door , hoping this mold isn’t dangerous. I wonder what we should do about the mold, if it can be cleaned, if it is harmful and when we will ever be able to get a different car. Brr. . . my feet are numb.
It is my turn to drive up and I am supposed to turn lights on and off, turn signāls, bright lights- oops, where are those? Two months is long enough to forget a lot about ones car. I feel like a ninny when I have to tell the guy I need help turning my brights on. He got in the car and did the rest of the tests.
We have a huge list of things to fix on the car and one month to do it, but at least we can drive to the store when need be. Walking would be a chore, and take so much more time.
I head to the store. I get all the things we need, it seems like a lot. But our basics are all out. This feels like we are just moving in, we need so many things. When I drive out to the car with the buggy I notice two men (beggars) walking near my car. I hope they will go away. I have never seen people begging by this store before.. One stands and watches while I unload my groceries. I try to avoid eye contact, hoping he will go away. Finally, I look at him, he is trying to show me a sign. I attempt to read it as he bounces it in front of me. He isn’t able to talk and wants me to give him money.
My husband has a policy that we never give money- nearly every beggar in Latvia wants the money for alcohol or cigarettes. My husband also wants people to learn to work- so he always offers people work when they ask for money. If a person is willing to work, he will pay them. Knowing this, I take a loaf of bread and offer him food. If a person is truly starving and in need, they will be grateful for food. We have often discussed this with friends since beggars are in abundance here. He takes the bread, but motions to the part of the cart where you have to put a coin in to use the cart. I can tell he is trying to get me to understand he wants the money when I return the cart.
I lock my car and head to return my cart, the other guy is standing in the overhang smoking. I assume his accomplice is going to wait until I get the money out and ask for it. So I turn around, prepared in my heart to give it if this is the only way to have him be satisfied and stop asking. But they are gone, gone on into the store with their bread.
And so goes my life in this world so very different from the American one I grew up in . . .

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