The next day I had duty. The Sailors went to a COMREL to an "island" to build birdhouses, and they played the Latvian military basketball team. Farragut's team won 69-37, and I hear everyone had a great time.
My first day in Latvia was spent on an MWR (Morale, Welfare, Recreation) tour in Sigulda and Ligatne, Latvia. We went kayaking, ate lunch, bobsledding, and then toured a Soviet Bunker. What a day! The kayaking reminded me of rafting on the Current River in Missouri. We had so much fun, admiring the gorgeous forests. After the kayak ride, we went to a buffet style restaurant and had lunch. They had assorted cheeses, meats, entrees, and vegetables for us. Great meal especially after kayaking the Gauja River. After we were full from lunch, we went to the Latvian's bobsledding facility. We were able to bobsled on the rookie track, and were able to climb some great heights to see where the Latvians practiced for the winter olympics. They have brought home over 72 medals since 1981. After spending time in Sigulda, we went to Ligatne, to the medical rehab facility, that houses a Soviet Bunker in the basement (9 meters below the first floor). The facility was one of the most strategically important places in Soviet Latvia in case of nuclear war. We toured the bunk rooms,the map rooms, and even decontamination stations.
We hurried back to the ship after the tour for a reception onboard to host various Latvian military officials. After arriving fashionably late, I was able to meet many youth attached to the US Embassy. Many of the teenagers have spent time in Chicago. One of the male teenagers had a 12 pack of A&W rootbeer in his hands. I asked him about it, and he said that after having it in Chicago 3 years ago, he has looked for it all over Eastern Europe. He bought it from our SUPPLY Officer, and was incredibly happy. I told him he should make some rootbeer floats with it, and I think there are a half dozen teenagers in Riga enjoying rootbeer floats right about now.
|Gorgeous park in Riga|
|Walking around Riga|
|Enjoying the first day!|
|Photo from the underground bunker!|