Adventure in Estonia

Believe it or not, the emphasis of this trip really was on working.  On several days, work continued four or five hours after the students went home.  There were a few die-hard students helping even during those long sessions. However, this kind of schedule prevented a lot of the normal kinds of adventures that I sometimes have in my travels.  Perhaps, I must return to Estonia another time for more adventures?  But, I did have something pretty interesting happen, twice.

In this mural process, I'm becoming pretty good at guessing how long things will take to complete.  Each day I know about how much work I want to get done in order to finish the task in the time allotted.  On the third day, when I wanted to get most of the large mural outlined in black, but I had unexpected distractions.

The first distraction was a telephone call (who would call me in Estonia?) to warn me about the next distraction to take place almost immediately.  A television crew was on the way to the school.  And, if you were Estonian, you would have recognized the reporter in a heartbeat.  Naturally, I didn't know J├╝rgen Fogel, but the elementary kids at the school went nuts.  A television camera was much more interesting than my mural.  And, the famous reporter was way more exciting than any unknown artist.  He was mobbed with kids who wanted his autograph.

In the interview, I explained how the mural process began in Namibia and how I came up with a theme.  I wasn't nervous.  Talking one on one with a reporter was nothing compared to "back to school nights" with parents.  However, the student painters were a different story.  They were nervous even before the crew arrived and several made sure that under no circumstance would they even look in the camera's direction.  Noses and brushes all faced the mural the entire time.

Okay, that distraction ended and I went back to outlining.  That is, until the next distraction.  This time it was a local newspaper reporter with a photographer.  The camera flashed so many times before the reporter finally asked, "Would you like to rub that paint off your nose?"  She wasn't sure if I wanted an artsy look in the picture.  I didn't and there were a lot more flashes.

The interview lasted quite a while.  I had a lot of stories and the reporter had just as many questions.  She especially liked my story about the Estonian flag.  I like to include traditional costumes, flags, and maps whenever I can.  Estonia was no exception.  And, I remembered the colors of the flag because of a cocktail I saw at a restaurant.  There was a blue liqueur at the bottom of the glass.  In the middle was black coffee that was topped with whipped cream.  It was so simple to remember the Estonian colors.

As the students painted "Estonia" in those patriotic colors, nobody thought to mention to me that the colors were in the wrong order.  Unlike the drink, the actual colors of the flag from top to bottom were blue, black and then white.  It was then that I realized in order to be a true Estonian, you had to sling your head back, tip that drink completely upside down, and then drink it like a real patriot.

I didn't stay on schedule or complete my goal for the day.  I had to get back to the hotel by 7:00 PM for the local news broadcast.  However, the story about the mural was the last news clip of the hour broadcast.  And, after a very long wait (all in Estonian, of course, and none of it understood), the real news story hit the screen.  There were shots of the mural, an interview with a high school student, scattered art supplies, ecstatic elementary kids, and one sentence of mine in English.  It doesn't matter that I didn't understand much of what was said; I just basked in the moment.