The tale of Klaipeda

“Here it is”, he began, “the drama theatre school!” I looked up at the building. My eyes began atop, slowly gliding down. A simple building, built with modern techniques. Nothing that stood out. I would soon learn, that the inside is where the architectural work caught the fascination. I glanced back at him,where he stood with an exciting smile, looking for his theater card. The man had not known me half a day ago, when he was asked if a stranger could be granted a bed. Now the same man was using his privileges as a drama actor to show me around. The hall was grand, leading to a second theater. It seemed as if a building had been placed over the ancient theater, hiding its beauty from outsiders. Names were placed together with paintings of men, along with the work they have done. He continues to tell me about the building as we enter the hallway to the dressing rooms. On the floor lays a carpet of names and the corresponding vintages. Questioning, I point to the gap of a decade or two.  “A reconstruction”, he explains as he names a few of the major plays. I have been told that most of Klaipedas creative talents flee off to other countries, causing for a lack of creativity in the city. Throughout the Baltics, this phrase had become the norm. However, I had to disagree on the latter. If the Baltics lack creativity, the Dutch lack bicycles! Moving on, the two of us suddenly stood on the stage itself. The actor fiddled with the sound before making the tribune, where the visitors will be seated, spin around. There was pride and joy in his actions and words, yet time had come to show me the door. Off to work for him and off to exploration for me. Slowly, the door closed behind me. Click. The sound signified that the door was now locked. A sigh of wind went through my hair. I turned my head to my left, from where the strong wind had surprised me. From the docks,  it had come. I peered to the other side of the street. A haven filled with sailing ships. Carpe diem…

 

Lithuanian legend tells of an ancient tribe, who worshipped the sun and fire, that once lived along the banks of the Akmena River. The time came when the tribe needed to find a new place to settle, so they sent out their bravest hunters – two fair-haired and blue-eyes brothers, Deer and Wolf – in search of a place for the tribe’s new home. The brothers made their way along the tracks of wild animals and over the oak covered hills when finally form the top of a hill they saw the majestic blue sea stretching before them. They wished to reach the sea so that they could greet her, but between the brothers and the sea lay a boggy marshland. Each brother took a different route to try and find a way around the marsh. 

Deer reached the shore and decided that here, where the yellow sand touched the sea, he would bring his tribe, but Wolf, who had followed the river, disappeared forever. As much as Deer called and searched for Wolf, all that he found was a single footprint slowly sinking into the muddy bog. Deer returned to his tribe and brought them to the newfound area to live and for generations the stories of Deer’s adventures and the tale of the Wolf’s fruitless quest where told. As time passed much of the story was forgotten except for the part where Wolf was lost forever and all that was found was his “last footprint” (klai [dziota] peda). – Klaipeda first mentioned in 1413. 

 

The gate was closed. I looked at all the ships and their names. I noticed all of them had the Lithuanian flag swirling in the wind. Big ships, small ships, ships with rectangular sails and ones with square. Ones made of wood, iron or steel. Masts that climbed their way up, as if at an attempt to catch the scuttling clouds. Clouds that were sailing in their own way, moving as long as the wind allows them to. A guard shouting in broken German broke me out of my focus. Assuming that I spoke the language, which I did, the sized man pointed me into the direction of the ships embling the horizontal black, red and yellow.“Deutsch!” I thanked him in a state of awkward confusion, as if just awoken. A row of ships where in my sight. One by one, I had told myself. A big wooden ship stood on the side, from where I planned to begin, circling around until I would find my ship. “The Joker”,  read the first one. It was a mediocre ship, but with masts higher than most. Fast as well, I came to find out, when the week passed. Moving to the second, smaller one, I whispered: “Mirage.” Interesting name. I wonder how this ship deserved a name of delusion. My eyes glance at the next one. Screening, I see the name displayed on the left behind. “Carpe Diem”, I chuckled. The craft swung from left to right, following the small motions of the water. A small entrance allowed me to peek inside. I could hear someone, rattling with tools. In my best of German, I spoke up and with a clear, excited voice let out a “Hallo!” The ladder squeaked under the weight of the man climbing up. Then he stood on deck, confirming it was indeed the ship I was looking for. Full of shock and thrill, he waved me aboard. Time to catch up! 

 


To confused readers and followers, this blog post will take you back in time. Not too far, but far enough to meet the German couple that invited my friend and I inside. The husband, Reinhardt, planned on going to Klaipeda. If I were around, I must seek for “Carpe Diem”, I was told. Luck was with me, when Reinhardt had just come back from a trip and was a few weeks from setting sail. Our last days in Germany I would also recommend to read the previous one, to find out how I ended up in Klaipeda to begin with.

Thank you all for reading my blog and by doing so giving me motivation to keep writing. I love doing it and when my work gets appreciation it gives me an extra push to get out the laptop or pen and paper to start emptying my mind and forming it into words.


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