Introducing My First Muddy Buddy to Travel
I was about twenty weeks pregnant when I found myself lost in a strip club at a hotel in Eastern Europe. Suddenly there were flashing red lights, loud techno music and pole with a silhouette of someone’s leg. Oops–wrong door! I obviously was not meant to be there– in my Target maternity top and Old Navy cardigan and skinny jeans. I probably wore super-supportive, fashionable New Balance sneakers too.
I was teaching at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania to help prepare students for English at University. I knew that I wanted to raise my kids as a stay-at-home-mom for quite a few years, so this teaching assignment was to be an adventurous send-off. Plus, I loved the idea of traveling with my baby without needing to schlep baby gear along. My sister from Berlin would also visit me in Lithuania during my last weekend of teaching, and this story centers on that weekend.
My sister arrived Friday evening for the Tall Ships Festival, which would welcome old sailing ships in transit on an international regatta and display traditional music and adorable local children dressed in nautical attire. We dined along the Baltic Sea and enjoyed an outdoor cello performance among other sights. It was neat to think of how my baby could hear the cello music and different languages.
I remember trying to eat healthy for the baby in a land where fried bread is the default appetizer. I tried to order salad, but I wanted to use ‘my Lithuanian’, which lead me to a plate of pickled carrots and peppers. I continued to eat healthy and order hot cocoa, but I ended up with a small pitcher of melted chocolate. So, I ended up dipping the pickled peppers into the chocolate sauce. Why not? If you are pregnant, you can get away with that! Besides, I saw it on I Love Lucy.
Speaking of I Love Lucy moments, when I walked into the strip club, I was actually trying to show my sister a panorama of Klaipeda, which happened to be from a hotel restaurant’s toilet with floor to ceiling windows atop the highest building. Luckily, the windows are now frosted on the bottom half, since it is no longer the tallest point in Klaipeda (privacy issue?). I had only used this privy in daylight and thought it was a fun and quirky aspect to show her. Plus, as a pregnant mama, my bladder could have used alleviation. However, the restaurant’s ambiance had been transformed overnight.
Navigating through the strobe lit club was just too awkward, so we settled for a thrilling glass elevator in the same building. Now at nearly midnight the effects of vodka on the atmosphere became more prevalent, especially on the men. The route back to my teacher’s dorm ran through rough areas of Klaipeda, and the busses hardly ran at this hour.
I am not sure why I did not foresee Klaipeda’s night scene or think of the bus schedule, but this is typical trouble in which I find myself—I Love Lucy predicaments are in my DNA. I give my sister (and for that matter my four children and husband) full credit for tolerating my capricious, hair-brained schemes. My older sister diligently premeditates every detail of any itinerary in order to maximize thrills. She finds the best deals on the highest quality every time and has higher standards for comfort, safety and efficiency than I do.
I can only imagine my sister’s thoughts (actually she told me afterward) when I hailed a ‘pocket rocket’ (a tiny van-sized cab stuffed with passengers). This time ‘my Lithuanian’ came in handy! The driver understood exactly where I needed to go. He drove insane, and we got back safely in no time. Just as I was feeling proud of myself for getting out of that pickle (no pun intended), my sister informed me that she felt like the seats were going to drop right through the bottom of that vehicle, and that the door handle was indeed constructed of Duct tape.
In the end, traveling with littles, even before they are born, is a blessing, especially making it back home without peeing yourself…I mean, without the littles peeing themselves! Sharing experiences, no matter the number of stars your accommodation has, is worth it. Sisters are a blessing. I would not have half of my life I Love Lucy stories if it were not for her 😉!