As if traveling to Latvia this summer wasn’t enough international travel, I managed to sneak in not just one, but two trips to Canada a few months back. My godparents both live in Toronto, so it wasn’t the first time I crossed our northern border; when I was in elementary school I made the trip solo on more than one summer vacation. However we haven’t been recently, and when we were invited to a second cousin’s wedding I thought someone should represent… With the school year underway it turned out that only Vilis and I made the trip – his first time in Canada!
It wasn’t all as easy as I had imagined. We flew the first leg with not a problem, only to wait in a customer service line 30 minutes to be told that Vilis needs his own ticket despite flying in my lap. We had paid the taxes on his flight in Greenville, so when it was explained that a paper ticket is usually mailed to the billing address, I grew impatient with the situation, as the connecting flight was due to leave in 30 minutes. After 20 more minutes the attendant finally “found” where the ticket was, and left to go get it. Another 20 minutes, and she arrived to hand me the ticket, at which point I ran through the concourse only to find that all flights were grounded due to lightning – quite fortunate for me, as otherwise I would have missed the connection! Arriving in Toronto 2 hours late we ran into our second hiccup; border patrol asked me if I was married, and when I replied in the affirmative I was asked if I had a signed letter stating the other parent is aware I am crossing international borders with our son. I explained that Roberts was home with the other two boys, and that I was headed to a wedding, and when asked if I had any proof I provided the invitation. At that point it was smoother sailing, as the officer smiled at the invite saying “this is the most beautiful wedding invitation!” and waved us through. (Thanks M&M, for the awesome invite!)
|One of a few churches that had been renovated into loft apartments|
In addition to some sightseeing in the Junction area of Toronto, we got to spend time with my cousins, godparents and Toronto Juris – a treat when we’ve seen so little of them in the past years. Coincidentally, my godfather was just in Greenville for a visit, however twice in two months is a rarity – I’m lucky to see them all twice in two years, especially the cousins who are traveling the world, doing their thing.
Saturday we headed to Sidrabene for the wedding, a Latvian property north of Toronto. The camp is owned and operated by St. Andrew's Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Toronto, and although originally intended only as a summer camp and a meeting place for Latvians displaced by WWII, in the last sixty years it has taken on many other roles. Within the property lines there are 60 cabins, a main event hall, a café and a swimming area with salt water pool and splash pad. The outdoor chapel hosts weddings, christenings and confirmations in addition to twice weekly worship services during the summer. Just as Roberts and I have Gaŗezers, many of our Canadian friends grew up in Sidrabene, spending their summers and weekends surrounded by nature and Latvian culture. Many a Latvian couple has met at one of the Latvian camps scattered across the US and Canada; fate would have it that Māris and Meghan found one another in Sidrabene.
Despite the slightly uncooperative weather, the day was amazing. If anything, the drizzle kept everyone from spreading out over the vast acreage, fostering a feeling of togetherness in the cozy hall. The couple had put so much thought into making each and every guest feel welcome and comfortable, and the decorations! Starting with the birch branches used as indoor accents, to the slate coasters the couple had customized for each guest to take home with them; the natural theme they had chosen was elegant in its simplicity and really showed off their creativity and dedication. It was such an honor to be invited to share in this special day with Māris, Meghan and Ādams – you have a beautiful family and it was a beautiful day!
Vilis and I had a great time with family and friends, if only for the weekend and despite the difficulties in flying solo with a baby. I was relieved when he slept a majority of the way home, even more relieved when the mechanical problems on our second flight were resolved and we were allowed to take off for Greenville! And so it came about that not even a month later I was on my way to Canada once more, although this time sans husband and children – for the first time in over five years. (to be continued...)