John is a 72-year-old American retiree living in Walland, Tennessee, near the Smoky Mountains. Retired twice – first from the US Navy and later from work in the Civil Service of the State of Alaska. He has many passions – John researches his family history and creates a family journal, is an avid fisherman and has walked various stages of the Camino de Santiago for over five years now. First, together with his cousin, he measured this route in Spain, then in France and Portugal.
John Ross is measuring the road to Santiago in Latvia
Looking for a greater challenge, he decided to walk intermittently the route of the Way of Santiago, which leads across Europe, in a few years. This summer, it started from the highest point in the north – Tallinn, and ended in Latvia. Before he came to the Baltic States, John had a rough idea of the Baltic States, but unlike his family, the security issue did not worry him.
“Preposition? I only knew where they were [Baltijas valstis] located, and I knew that they are famous for their amber, because the Baltic Sea is here. Location, freedom, history, but not in every detail. Proximity to Russia and Ukraine. That’s why my family was worried about me being here,” John explained. “I said – I don’t think I’ll be in much trouble because of this – I know how to camouflage and hide, so it doesn’t look like it. I need to worry about it. From your point of view it is different; likewise, a coin has two sides.”
When he meets with locals in Estonia and Latvia, John notices that when talking about Russia, the word “Soviet” is not used. It seemed surprising – just like the influence of different powers and cultures, reflected in the different monuments and churches.
“You can always learn something new if you listen and keep an open mind,” emphasized John. “You can have an idea about something, but you can’t know the real taste until you’ve tasted it.”
The Camino in Estonia, Latvia and also Lithuania, as it is called in Spanish by pedestrians of the Way of Santiago or Saint James, is part of an international network of roads.
It is not a simple tourist route, but a multi-stage route marked in a certain way with the image of a conch, where accommodation is also marked. As evidenced kamino latvia home page, it is designed as a reinforcement of the union based on Christian values, in order to promote and develop the traditions of pilgrimage in Europe as a whole and in each country separately. And it is the exchange of culture, action, that teaches them to accept different, says John Ross.
“What you learn early on is that you meet a lot of people from very different backgrounds. They are different,” John admitted. “It does not mean that they are right or wrong. They are just different, and that is how you have to look at it. When you are here and see what is happening, you can feel the life of these people. And it helps you see. clearer.”
Compared to the camino in Western Europe, the road in Estonia and Latvia seemed to be underdeveloped – both in terms of infrastructure and also due to the small number of pedestrians.
For 13 days, an American walked St. James Way in Estonia alone. Only one day to walk away, a couple from Poland followed him, and that was it. For now, the possibility of us taking the route to Santiago from our northern neighbors is unknown. In Latvia, the scene was already a little different – here Jan had several traveling companions at some stage.
When asked how he thinks Baltic people are – but we often tend to emphasize how introverted we are – John emphasizes their different language skills.
“I don’t know anything about it, because there have been many changes and different authorities in this area, but when I met people, I realized that the older generation does not speak English or speak, but it is a shame that they cannot. speak well . On the other hand, the younger generation knows English, but does not know Russian, “John revealed his action. “Understood, I came to ask – do you speak English? Sometimes the answer is neither yes nor no. Sometimes I pick up the phone and call a young man who speaks English, then he hands the phone to me, and so we . talking. But especially everyone I met in Estonia and Latvia, was very helpful. People are friendly and open.”
Walking the Way of Santiago is not easy because you have to carry everything with you; The pedestrian is exposed to both the vagaries of nature and forced to adapt to road conditions – not everywhere is like a walk in the park.
John also mentions the ticks and mosquitoes, but he’s glad he’s lost some extra weight while walking, and that his belt can fit three holes. This is the greatest satisfaction in overcoming difficulties.
“The Camino is not a race. Rather, it is a test of endurance,” emphasizes John. “I usually tell others: when you start this path, there is a great desire to go. There is a great desire! But on the third day you ask yourself: what am I doing here?! This moment comes, and then the test of endurance begins. Will it be enough to walk the path? And you must discipline yourself to get up again every morning.”
And John Ross from America, whom I met in Latvia, who measures the Latvian road here, likes the idea of the similarity of the road and life: we come from different places, but we all go in the same direction, in the . the same end of the road.
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