I am immersed in a whirlwind of the big city. After a week in tranquil Estonia, the capitol of Latvia feels huge and on permanent fast forward. Trams clanging everywhere. The little green striding walk man shrieking at me to go. People going all directions at once. Call it culture shock. I’m knocked off my axis and trying to climb back on. The medical adventure didn’t help matters. So today’s mantra was to pace myself. No need to jump on a tourist rat race.
It’s Sunday, so the afternoon was alive with people. There are parks aplenty, sedate leafy affairs of lush, hyper sized hostas and feathering astilbes, the lawns a bed of lounging families and cuddling couples watched over by a mournful Austrian count unable to break out of his stone cage to join the merry makers under his domain. In one park, a fanciful wonderland of play structures made of rough-hewn wood crawled with children.
I joined the Sunday morning crowd of head-scarved old women at the huge labyrinth of the Central Market, a warren of vegetable, fruit, flower, cheese, meat, and miscellany that spill out of these huge former Zeppelin hangars. I sampled spices and bought a picnic feast for cheap.
The old town center of Riga is studded with churches. Around every corner I stumbled over one, sometimes two side by side. Inside the main cathedral, the organist filled the space with apocalyptic tones, as if the end times were drawing near. Or maybe it was just Beethoven. I lounged in a cafe, meandered cobblestoned streets of stately Baroque and whimsical Art Nouveau. And breath by breath the city shrinks into something manageable. Human scaled.
My fibromyalgia has been quiet since Hiiumaa’s bike adventure, when the only bike my host had for my use was a Soviet era one-speed. Biking 80km on a one-speed, well, you’re not getting anywhere fast. And your legs strain and scream. Maybe not the best plan for me. But now that’s a distant memory as I focus on my staircase episode wounds. I suddenly discover I have a hypochondriac streak. Is my wound infected? What’s that color mean? Is that the start of a scab or an infection? Why does my leg ache? Quick, a doctor tell me everything is okay fast!
Really, I should just chill, take it slow, and follow my instructions for keeping it clean. But I’m in another country where I don’t speak the language and it’s amazing how that heightens the anxiety of something otherwise minor. Because if I do have a problem, how will I communicate what’s wrong?
I pantomimed antibacterial gel for putting underneath a bandage to the pharmacist at the aptieka this morning. If I can do that, I communicate anything. Or so I tell myself as I check my bandage. One. More. Time.