It’s that glazed over look when I tell people where I am that leads me to believe there is a huge gap in the teaching of geography these days.
No, that is a fictional country made up by the Marx Brothers and referenced in The West Wing to point out ignorance in the U.S. Senate.
I’m talking about Estonia. Eestimaa. Or simply Eesti.
Estonia is a Baltic State, and lies south of Finland, funnily enough across the Bay of Finland, and is bordered by Latvia and Russia. Estonia is a tiny country that has been highly prized in it’s history by the Russians, Swedish, Danish and Germans. They finally won independance on 20 August 1991 in a stunning revolution that used nationalistic singing as a weapon against the Soviet Union. Highly recommend the documentary The Singing Revolution
My mother was born in Estonia and became as World War Two refugee as a small child, ending up in Australia during the intake of immigrants from Europe. Hence my journey begins as an Australian.
I landed in Helsinki, one of my favourite places, and caught the ferry across the Bay. This wind in my hair and the salty sea spray from the Baltic has been absent for far to long. It’s been three years since I was here last, far too long a time. But I know that I am home.
There is a wierd sensation being in Estonia. Maybe it’s genetic memory kicking in, but I am surrounded by family, people who until my first visit in 2005 were unknown relatives. I feel very at home here, although the language is one of the most demanding to learn. It’s only equivalent would be that of Finnish, it’s sister tongue.
I am here for Laulupidu, the Estonian National Song Festival, in it’s 140th year. This festival was creditted for the national pride that led to the revolution, and made the people free.
Free at last, thank god almighty.