Marta Maria

My Photo
Location: Viljandi, Estonia

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Last weekend we ventured out to Pärnumaa, which is a county in the southwestern corner of Estonia on the Baltic Sea. Part of Epp's family comes from Pärnumaa and her mother was born in Pärnu, which is known as the "summer capital of Estonia" in guidebooks, although few people I have ever met have used the term.

To get to Pärnumaa, and specifically to a small village called Varbla where a good 25 percent of all Epp's relatives are from, we drove first to Suure-Jaani and then straight across to the north of the city of Pärnu, then followed the coast north through Tõstamaa and into Varbla, where we met with Epp's great aunt at the cemetery where Epp's great grandparents are buried.

The cemetery was fascinating. They always are. Like most Estonian cemeteries, this one was in the woods. It was basically a grove in the forest where stones and metal and wooden crosses jutted out of the Earth. I took a lot of photos of Marta in this environment because it was so creepy. I thought that Marta and the cemetery together had a sort of a eerie Victorian flavor.

After we visited the cemetery we went to have lunch at the house where Epp's great grandparents used to live and where her grandmother lived when she was a little girl. Epp's great grandfather built the house sometime in the 1920s. Clockwise from left is Epp's cousin Jaanus, her great aunt Salme, Salme's cousin whose name is also Salme, the back of Simona's head, and Epp. Anna is in there somewhere too, if you can imagine.

We finished our trip to Varbla by heading out to the coast to take a look at the water. It's so nice that it's only June and we have several more months of this kind of stuff. Summer in Estonia is magical. People act differently, they are nicer and they look at you on the street. Who wouldn't feel happy looking out on views like this?

On the way back from Varbla, we stopped in Liu to see an acquaintance of Epp's who has horses and two very large St. Bernard dogs. Some Estonian towns have "normal" names like Haapsalu and Viljandi. But others have quasi-Chinese names like Liu, Lao, and Mäo. In fact, Liu and Lao are right next to each other. Anyway, Simona got to ride the horse, but Marta was too small (she was very sad when she figured this out). Still, she was allowed to mount the horse for a quick photo-op, and the horse took a few steps forward so, arguably, she rode it as well.

The drive back from Pärnu to Tartu took about three hours. People think Estonia is a small country but it's actually quite roomy when you get inside of here. As we passed near Võrtsjärv I snapped this picture out the car window. Everyone else in the car was napping, so it was just me and the sunset -- this photo was taken maybe after 10 pm -- to keep me company.