Marit and her travels

Sometimes there is too much dreaming and no actions. But once you push yourself to go further than planned and “ask for the moon”.. You would be surprised how often you get what you really want.

So if you know me, you probably know my friend Marit. Over 20 years of friendship. Fights, laughter, relationships and travels. So that’s why I was keen to get this here. I remember when we started writing it my first question was somewhat “official” and then this happened..

A: – “So your current location or home?”.

M: -“You got to be kidding me to ask this from a person whose current status is homeless and jobless. Well last one is actually so-so. I have job in Suriname all ready and waiting for me, but current home? The World maybe (since I’m hopping from country to country at the moment).

I met you in the winter of 1994 and I am more than sure it was December. I had just moved to a new neighborhood and kids were playing at the frozen playground. I guess that was also the place where we first met, but then again you always argue with me about that fact. Anyways, there was a blond girl, you, with a funky cooking apron always on and with whom I could laugh the loudest in our hood. Climb the trees, have snails as pets, play hide-and-seek, glaze airplane lights (that we pretended to be UFOs). Life has changed, but whenever we get together, we still manage to do snow angles for six hours in a row… In winter. Yes folks – we aren’t that barking mad.

You went to school 200m from our home and I, as in life in general, had to choose the longer path. So I went to school that was 1,5 km away from my home at that time. You had so many friends, but so did I. From age of 13 I started spending my summers in South of France. From there I got my second family and really started appreciating traveling.

In high school I enjoyed chemistry and mathematics (not that I was particularly amazing in these subjects. Cheers Piller-Riin), so I decided after that to go for food technology and product development studies in Tallinn. But my mama, who is a Head Nurse, smoothly talked me out of it. Moms, they always have the best tricks up on their sleeves! She started emphasizing my love for dancing in her talks of graphic ER stories  (till today I can eat breakfast and scroll through body operation pictures on IG). One week before the academic year started I got a phone call asking if I want to study instead of Tallinn in Tartu physiotherapy. Something clicked in me and I said yes! Within a week I had to pack my bags, move, find a home. Since then I have had a habit of moving minimum once if not twice a year (not recommended, a weird burden).

Like I mentioned before I started spending my summers in French Riviera when younger. Probably the confidence and idea to travel more also came from that experience. So I applied for Erasmus programme when in University. I wanted to go to Italy, but till today we are waiting answer from Verona. My two other preferences were Portugal (based on ‘I have no clue what country that is’, white spot on my map of Europe) and Austria (snowboarding). As Portugal answered first – Lisbon it was!

And from there it all took off, everything I do today is because one day I decided to go on Erasmus. Since then i have found myself working in Tallinn, studying in KUL in Belgium, living in Brussels and learning Dutch with 3 months. Worked for the university hospital in Gent and an awesome rehabilitation center near Brussels.

Since day one I have been travelling alone, I still travel alone. Sometimes it feels like a punishment. I have had huge friendship losses, but thanks to that have also found the true gems, both abroad and back in my home country. One smarty-pants once said that if you are not losing friends you are not growing up and I sort of agree with it. But I’m not going to lie, “growing pains” hurt. Holding up relationships is difficult, but I do try to keep record and ask updates of my close ones from distance. My family has always been there via Skype or just a phone call away. Nowadays we are also being all hip and use WhatsApp. I know exactly which sandwich my mama ate during her morning meeting, what cake my sister baked for her family and what’s the new favorite song of my nephew. That’s more than most folks can say I suppose. I do know I am missing out on my loved ones lives and the older I get the more I feel it. But I also know that no matter what, the people I have kept in my life, support me.

From both my long and short destinations I have found amazing new people into my life. And mind you, I’m talking about the real deal here, not the general random-passing-acquaintances fuzz. I think I have friends and connections everywhere besides the North and South Pole. Oh wait, you go to North Pole all the time with Lapland trips. Yeah, I’m pretty much covered everywhere 🙂

By the way, who doesn’t believe in long distance relationships, then they do work. Just never forget you need two for tango and no salsa steps should be added.

Portugal taught me love for espresso and since then I have my little moka (nr 5 or sth) at home (or in my main storage luggage at this moment) for getting my morning dose of caffeine. Portugal also taught me how to cook rice, France how to cook different shades of meat and love for stinky cheese, Belgium love for Turkish food and that groceries are done at Sundays markets, Sweden gave me love for kaneelbullars and so on. It is mainly about the food where the potato-meat eater can spot cultural differences. Although, there are two things that always stand out which are bureaucracy and religion. I think for an average Estonian living in Estonia the true meaning of the word bureaucracy is something very distant and foreign. In Belgium though.. For example – simple home address change goes like this: go to the City Hall 7:45 ( doors open 8am) then stand 2-3h in a line to get a ticket number, then your probably told after long wait during  the first try, that they don’t provide the service anymore as the working day is over. Bye-bye and come back for another number tomorrow. When you finally do succeed to see anyone, your off to the next chapter – the police visit.  So they would see if you really live where you said you did. The knock on a door could take around 1- 4 weeks and then you can hike back to the City Hall to finalize your new documents. And now you should repeat the first stage of the operation – take the flipping number. Lots of papers (poor trees) and waiting. Getting things done online like in Estonia is just a dream.

I don’t consider myself as a creative person, I mean not as you, miss arts, but I am a words-person.  So I have lot of love for books. I don’t look for an inspiration so much from but rather possibility to try to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Recently my books are varying from neuroscience, Afghan war soldier stories to Saudi Arabia princesses. I think the love affair with books started with my wonderful middle school graduation gift – ‘The Little Prince’. I have read it in Estonian, English, French, Dutch and it still manages to mesmerize and surprise me. I also love the poems of Rudy Francisco and lyrics (also beats)  of Oddisee. But the most in this world I have been and still am motivated, inspired by my mother, mama! Teachings, motivation, support, encouragement, the way she raised me and my sister. She is somewhat a modern day superhero. When I grow up I want to be .. (says  a 26year old).

If you are now asking me about my future and travel plans, the answer is – Earth. I mean what else could I say while sitting in my Airbnb room on my spontaneous trip to Istanbul. I was supposed to start a teaching job at the university in Suriname almost 3 months ago. Good old Bureaucracy. But the plans I do know? Heading to Athens soon. I’m pretty sure that one day I will hike high mountains, snowboard with avalanche equipment in my backpack, volunteer as a disaster physiotherapist in a crisis area and one day .. one day – I will learn how to start travelling with some company.

Oh yeah and did I already mention that I hate to fly, but love to travel? Hate goodbyes, but hellos feel as blessings.

So tsauki-tsauki (works for hello and bye at the same time in Estonia)”

Writing Marit Raidvere & Aliis Pikk
Picture by Diego Hermelo Vidal