Walking across Europe? Yes! That is what Zaiga and Martins are currently up to. These two Latvian adventurers now are on 6500 kilometers long walk from Poland to Portugal. They want to walk Camino de Santiago from home (first part – from Riga to Poland – they did before).
What’s also important – Zaiga and Martins are not taking the shortest path, they walk mostly by the coast.
Why they are doing this? How it is going? And how they prepared for walking across Europe – all this and much more you will find in our interview with them! Just continue reading!
– Please, tell us a little bit about yourselves!
I’m just an ordinary girl who too frequently started to ask questions to myself like: “Am I living the life I admire? Am I everything I want to be?” I used to work in a media agency as a Head of Digital department.
But that doesn’t define me or say anything about me, right? It doesn’t matter what is my job position or how old I am, it’s about who I really am and how I feel life. Right now for me it is all about experience. Experience is the one that counts and it has a real value in my eyes.
Before my lovely work experience, I also lived and studied in Italy for 2 years. That was a place where I got in love with engagement and a taste of experience that made me fearful yet fascinated, and gave me a sence of being overwhelmed and inspired.
Martins is a rational dreamer and his curiosity may be the key for him towards hapier, more meaningful and fulfillded life. I have a feeling that wood is actually his natural environment where he feels best.
– How long do you already have this idea about walking across Europe?
The idea of walking the St.James road starting from our home doors is a very old dream for us.
– When did you understand, that hiking is your way of traveling?
It all started in a very cold winter day when Martins said: “Let’ s go for a hike near the seaside”. I had never done it before. He gave me his winter boats, some trousers that was 3 times larger than I needed and a sweater, so that I feel comfortable while being outside. We poured hot tea into the thermos and walked 24 km.
To understand the seriousness, I was a girl who didn’t appreciate time spent near the nature. Martins changed that perception, and I’m truly thankful him for that, I discovered an absolutely new world and new challenges. Martins then already had an experience by walking alone all the Latvian seaside boarder. He accomplished 500 km in 12 days.
– What is the longest hiking trip you have done?
We are doing it right now, the walk of St. James from Poland to Portugal. It is our second month (middle of April 2015) and we plan to finish the journey at a Christmas time. We have walked right now some 800 km out of 6500 km.
Previous years on our 2 weeks vacation time, we have walked all the seaside boarder of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Last year we finished the journey in a small village in Poland called Ustka, so this time we started from the point we reached last year.
– What are you taking with you? Does it differ from what you take for shorter trips?
Yes, it’s different. The bags are heavier than usually. We have to take extra things for the occasion “what if”. More possible situations, more challenges to face. Our budget is limited, so as much you plan and take into account before, the better it is. At the same time it is impossible and unnecessary to plan or pretend all the situations before, because then you will never go out of the home.
I also have to take with me different state of mind. In somehow I see this trip as a challenge, I will not deny it. I feel the joy of life and passion only when I come across challenges, especially the ones related with movement. At the same time I’m a calm person. So I’m used to feel the art of stillness. And that’ s exactly what I experience during this long trip, these 2 words living together every day.
– How much do you plan ahead?
We plan as much as our closest people and our budget want to know. We like to plan till the backpacks are on our backs. Long distance hiking is not the activity you can plan in every detail. Too many unplanned things and situations can happen.
In my case preparation and planning is more about your state of mind and not the road itself. Actually, the less expectations you have before the trip, the more open you are towards your road and all the things it has prepared for you. At the same time the more focused and ambitious you are, the more you can do. Without ambitious you will not do it, because that’s not easy.
– What has been the hardest part in process of preparation?
We feel very comfortable in the planning process. We have made a lot of hiking tours in Latvia in different kind of weather and situation conditions. The preparation is not a challenging for as, the trip itself is.
Preparation is just a turning point, when you understand that this is really happening, nothing more. In one interview before the trip we said: “We are going out of our comfort zone”. But now, after being out for more than a month I would say that I’m in my comfort zone right now. And we love to feel challenge, we love when it’s hard, because in this case we really feel we are alive. I also feel that I become better person while being near the nature and it is not about who I am any more, its about what I become.
– What’s the biggest challenge while being on the way right now?
The biggest lesson I’m taking right now – failure is a crucial part of success, of movement. On the second week of our trip, we got really sick in Poland, we couldn’t move further for a week. After my 400 km, I got a plantar fasciitis, which means that I can’t walk right now and I have no idea for how long.
I bought a bike, and I’m moving further right now with it, but it haven’ t changed my joy of movement. I discover a new way of seeing the world. Still, hope that till France my leg will get better and I will walk again.
So finding a way, carry on even if you think that there is no option. Must admit, Martins is still walking. He is managing approximately 30 km every day and soon we will reach 1000 km. He’ s my inspiration.
Mariana Abramovic on one interview said a very inspirational phrase that for now is my mantra: “If you don’t fail, it means you’re not risking anything, or you’re repeating yourself. And that means you’ll lose the curiosity and the life force inside of you.” So fail. Fail over and over again, but don’t be afraid. Be bold, experience is the one that counts. Our time is limited, so don’t waste it. Do whatever you feel like is the right thing for you. Feel your life. A life of grace.
All pictures used in the article are from Zaiga’s and Martins’s personal archive.
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they are traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On WeAreFromLatvia.com they share their experience and things learned along the way.