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Workin the World The 4 month trip that lasted 5 years .. all the adventures from Workers final year o/s and the trip back to Oz.

Shhh it's Hunting Season!

LATVIA | Tuesday, 25 September 2007 | Views [900]

Ever got drunk and agreed to go on a hunting trip with a complete stranger? No? Well, come to Riga where the beer is cheap and the deer are scared.

Riga has a beautiful old town, fantastic medieval architecture with winding cobbled alleys makes this a great city to hang out in, especially when beers are just £1, a price so low that you can't afford not to drink but careful what you'll agree to do!

The first night in town we decided that we had spent so many days travelling we would have a few quiet beers, that was our first mistake! At some time that morning I met Aleks, a local who said he had a summer house where he went hunting. Now there are 2 ‘manly’ things I have never done in my life; a) shoot a gun, and b) ride a motorbike. I figured, what better time to shoot a gun than with a complete stranger, in the middle of nowhere, in a strange country.

So the next day we hopped on a bus over to Ventspils, arriving at midnight we turned up at Alek’s girlfriends house to find Mum sitting on the couch in rollers, rather surprised that 2 strangers had come home with her 19yo daughter and boyfriend. Not to be flustered, however, before you could say ‘make mine white with 2’ we had been served some dinner, had the fold out bed made in the lounge room and were drinking some home made herbal tea.

The next morning I awoke to meet Dad in the kitchen, there is something strange about meeting a man, whose house you just spent the night in and speaks no English, for the first time in his own kitchen. Next to come down for breakfast was Grandad, who has been an unemployed artist his entire life, he then put on an impromptu art show for us over breakfast.

It was agreed, over some eggs, we would explore Ventspils during the day and go shooting that night, however, I would need to do some practice shots before given it was my first time. Ventspils is a lovely old town littered with fruit trees, which you can help yourself to as you stroll around, but our hosts thought it would be a good idea to go tree cabling. Tree cabling is where you climb up trees to about 20m, strap yourself on to cables and swing from one tree to another, which can be quite concerning when you have no guide and receive all your instructions in Latvian.

Having completed our tree course we then jumped into Dads car and drove out to the summer house, which proved to be an old property on the river surrounded by fruit trees and a lovely garden. After we had put our stuff in the house Dad pulled out the gun and set up a target for us, receiving my instructions in the third person I made my way to the plastic garden table we were using as a resting platform. Put the rifle up to my cheek, the but against my shoulder and squeezed the trigger gently. What occurred next could only be described as a horse kicking me whilst someone let off a bomb in my ear drum. How did I do? Well I just missed the bulls eye, in fact my hosts were quite impressed but to be honest I was lucky, I had no idea what I was doing and so was probably more surprised than them to see I had actually hit anything.

With this extensive training session under my belt, it was felt I was good to go hunting the next morning, but nor before we had used the home made wood sauna. A similar sauna to the one in Finland, the rocks are heated but a fire underneath until they get hot enough to give off steam once water is poured over. I love my saunas and this was no exception, the heat was up, the sweat was flowing, I was in heave, until they pulled out the branches and whipping us with them. Now I am all into experiencing the many flavours of our cultural stew, but there is something quite unnerving about having a bloke in a towel, covered in sweat, whipping you with a branch of leaves at 1am in a very remote sauna!

That night I slept rather uneasy, the next morning was the big hunt, would I have the balls to kill anything? Would I even get to see any animals? We woke early, put on our gumboots and went out to the car, at this point I noticed the Dad had taken the rifle out, loaded and cocked it, then explained something to Alex, this was then relayed to me, and I quote: “Right we are going to get into the car, the gun is loaded but don’t worry the safety is on. When we see something you will jump out of the car and shoot. Ok?”

Sure why wouldn’t that be ok? Hell I’m practically a professional hunter now, so I would love to sit in a car driving over rough dirt roads with a loaded, cocked rifle resting up next to my head. As it turned out we did manage to see a couple of deer, which I did get out and hunt but didn’t get a shot off, and a wolf, but alas I didn’t get to make a kill.

Later that day, after going mushrooming, we were driven into town and put on the bus back to Riga to complete one of the most random, yet truly great, experiences I have had travelling. To spend time with a local family you have never met and have them take you in like that is truly humbling, so a massive thanks to Aleks, Santa and her family for a wonderful weekend.

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