For X-mas I wrote to you ”letter will follow from Sweden”. That was too optimistic. The time in Sweden ran so quickly, visiting my family members, relatives and friends all the time. Now I’m happy to be back in Vilnius, back to work and social life here, which is not so hectic.
Of course the visit to Sweden was necessery and interesting. Seeing the grandchildren was the best of all, because we meet only for X-mas and in summertime. Every time they have grown a lot and become more and more brillant and talented, at least in their grandmother’s opinion!
In Östersund the population is hardworking on presentation and information of the region, being a candidate to the Olympic Games 2002. There are four candidates left now, and besides Ö-sund, Salt Lake City is the main competitor. Björn has got a new job at the information department of the community board after working with the County music for one and a half year. His jobs are most interesting and important, so he will put off his studies for some time. He is such an optimistic and positiv young man. Everybody tells me how clever and charming he is, so you can understand what a proud mother I am! For the moment he has no girlfriend, which is rather unusual.
These days are very thrilling, expecting Elinor’s and Per’s first baby in the end of February. Poor me, can’t see him or her until June! They spent a very happy time in Nashville around X-mas with a wonderful wedding and many nice parties. Marit is busy working with teaching in a school, taking care of her family and sometimes studying at the university! I also met Mats and his new fiancée and baby in Laholm. I spent New Year with his x-wife and two daughters in Wäxjö, where they have a very nice home, a good school for Elin and a kind ”day-mother” for Isa, while Marika is working.
The voyage from Stockholm to Tallinn was quiet, but sad. You can’t stop thinking on what happened there last autumn. The ships pass over the grave with 900 people buried at sea. There will be raised a big memorial monument on Skeppsholmen in central Stockholm near the water for the mourning relatives to visit. It was impossible to believe the news that morning in September. ”Estonia” was the ship I had gone with to and from Sweden 4-6 times a year during the last three years, so I knew and relied upon ship very much.
Then going by car from Tallinn in Estonia southwards, through Riga in Latvia, to Vilnius in Lithuania can be rather dramatic as it was on February 7th. The distance is 600 km, takes normally 8 hours, if you are lucky in passing the two borders. This time I used 12 hours because of snowstorm and icy roads. No accident for my part, but I saw a heavy one in front of me. I was more than happy at my arrival in Vilnius very late at night.
It’s a good thing to have a car here. Next weekend I’m going with two colleagues to Minsk, the capital of Belarussia, only 200 km from Vilnius. It is said to be a very ugly city, stalinistic style, but even that is history now.
Living conditions are still very hard in Lithuania, even harder than before. High inflation, low salaries, unemployment make more poor people and there are beggars in the streets. Some business men make a lot of money from western countries and build luxury villas. There are really contrasts in people’s lives here. And they are not very hopeful about the future, sadly enough.
The University job is still wonderful, interesting, inspiring and rewarding. Students are ambitious and happy, colleagues kind and cooperative. So I intend to stay even next year and then there is only one term till my retirement. No use to go back to Swedish school!