Riga and CNN

Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Latvia  ,
Monday, September 25, 2006

"Is that the only shirt you brought with you?" Ellen asked as we walked hand-in-hand along the canal in Riga, Latvia.

"It says where I'm from and I'm proud of that. I wash and dry it in the night while you sleep, my pretty little bird."

Beautiful Old-Town Riga has been found by both the Germans and the British. I sometimes feel fortunate that the world has adopted English as the global language. It's so amusing to watch and listen as the Germans struggle to get by with the fluent English-speaking Rigan shopkeepers and food servers. It's equally as entertaining watching the same Rigans struggling to understand the odd sounding folks from Britain.

The town square of Riga is like a visit to Disneyland. A two minute walk from the square though and you have the rest of the Old Town to yourself. This medieval wonder is like a small Prague with architectural styles from every period. The entire area covers three or perhaps four square kilometers so you can do it all in a couple of days.

Outside our hotel window, across the narrow cobblestone street in the quiet of the night a lone coach light burns. It's 3:00 a.m. I sit looking out the window at a reflection in a pool of water, listening to the quiet. But instead of reminiscing on our day of sightseeing in this beautiful city my mind focuses on the damned albeit silent television set that sits beside me. In backwater Vilnius we had no T.V. In prosperous Riga you can get maybe one hundred stations. And of course along with progress comes CNN International News. I pushed the On button on the remote control. In just thirty minutes I learned so many things I wished I hadn't:

The Pakistani President joked yesterday along with U.S. President George W. Bush that the CIA had earlier threatened to bomb the daylights out of Pakistan if they didn't become the US's new best friend.

For the first time in history a U.S. President will visit Estonia, Latvia's Baltic neighbour. It's being said around Old Town Riga that everyone is overjoyed except the Estonians.

At that point it occurred to me that Canada may very well have been threatened with having its daylights bombed out if it didn't become the US's new best friend too.

It's now 4:10a.m. A band of English braves just went by our window with painted faces making war-whoop like sounds. I hope it's just a soccer game they're coming back from and that they're not planning to attack the peace-loving Rigans.

It's being suggested that Osama bin Laden died last month of natural causes. I can't help but wonder how different the world would be today if this had been suggested five years ago.

Meanwhile the Russians are happy that someone else is bombing the daylights out of Afghanistan.

I think I'll wear my Canadian T-shirt inside out, at least until we reach Western friendly Red China...wait a minute...is mainland China still called Red?

The sun's beginning to rise. I best turn on the news.
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