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Latvia countrysideOn day two of my trip to the Baltic region I set out on a small bus from Riga, Latvia for a two-hour long ride to Siauliai, Lithuania.

There is really quite a contrast when you leave the city and hit the countryside.  It is vast, it is rural, and it looks a great deal poorer too.  But there are some beautiful sites.

Latvia countrysideLike this windmill.  Can’t say I remember the last time I saw an actual working windmill.

Lithuania countrysideWhen you get out the city, you also get to see people living life a bit differently.  The picture above of a cemetery within this tree patch.  It’s difficult to see in the picture.  There were people there, taking care of graves and leaving flowers.  This would be something I would see over and over again along the journey.  In Lithuania, there was a huge cemetery.  No exaggeration here – it must have been at least a mile long.  There were tons of people there and others selling flowers.  Death seems to be something that weighs heavily on people here.  I can only imagine why – maybe it has something to do with the history of repressive occupation of the Baltic region by the Nazis and Soviets.  These two outside groups probably caused more deaths of the people of the Baltic region than anyone else in recently.  And occupation still has an effect on people, even 25 years after independence was restored.  You can see it as you travel the countryside.

Lithuania countrysideOn a lighter note, soon after entering Lithuania we went around a traffic circle and I saw these cows.  I thought they were amusing.

Lithuania countrysideThe countryside is beautiful.  And it’s open.  And in a way, it’s honest – there is no hiding the past or the present in the country.  You can see the effects of occupation, and you can see how life moves on.