Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cowboys in Kybartai

Sometimes my job is awesome. This is me in my cowboy boots at the opening of an exhibit of cowboy and rodeo photographs by Lithuanian artist Zinas Kazenas. Zinas is a wonderful spokesman for America, so we've turned him loose in a number of small, out-of-the-way towns in Lithuania to show his work and talk about his love of America and the Wild West. This event was in Kybartai, right on the border with Kaliningrad.

To keep things in perspective, here is another picture of me doing my job. Sometimes my job is awesome, but COLD. This was welcoming a U.S. Navy ship to the port city of Klaipeda.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

It Meant Nothing to Me

Living in a place, it doesn't take long to see the character of the city and what crafts, arts, and food the city wants to share with you. What Lithuania is proud of, among other things, is its amber, ceramics, and linen. You can't walk a block in Old Town without seeing a store that carries these items. I've bought some lovely ceramic pieces, a nice amber brooch, and a unique linen scarf. I will always think of Lithuania when I see these things.

Recently I was in another Baltic city, Tallinn. I explored the Old Town, which was similar in many ways to Vilnius. I found myself browsing the windows of shops that sold amber, ceramics, and linen. It felt so natural to stop and admire these things. At one shop, a woman came out and offered me a discount coupon. And suddenly I felt guilty. Why did the thought of buying amber jewelry in Tallinn feel like I was cheating on Vilnius? Can you betray a city by buying souvenirs?

I didn't buy amber, ceramics, or linen in Tallinn. I remained faithful to Vilnius. But I wonder if the temptation will strike again the next time I visit.