It is quite likely that I got all of these germs from my kids at the orphanage. Unfortunately, the problem with being in a different country is that I am encountering germs that my body has never been exposed to before, so I am at a high risk of getting sick from them more than just this once. Prayers for good health over the rest of the semester would be highly appreciated! As a result of this current illness, I have missed this entire week of working with my Little Snails, and will miss most or all of next week, too. I cannot return until all of my symptoms are completely gone.
However, this has not just been a period of setbacks. I have learned a few things from this illness. First, I have gained a major appreciation for all hearing-impaired people. I can now see how frustrating it is to lose your hearing. Not only does it make communication more difficult, but it also complicates your balance and sense of equilibrium, causes confusion, and makes interactions with others stressful and exhausting. I think I have gained a new patience and grace for hearing-impaired people. Second, medical care is so important and God blessed us with doctors and nurses. I know from working in hospitals over the summers that there are people in our area that do not speak English and struggle to receive proper healthcare as a result. Now I know what it feels like to go to a doctor that doesn’t speak the same language as me. Thankfully, I was blessed with people to interpret for me. But it is still a scary and confusing experience. I am so glad that she was patient with me and the need for translation.
So, I am still suffering from all my illnesses, but at least have medicine to get me on the road to recovery. And, today was Palanga Stinta (aka, the Smelt Festival in Palanga). Despite my coughing, decreased hearing, running nose, and sinus pain struggles, I hopped on the bus with tons of other Lithuanians (study abroads, LCC students, and Lithuanian residents) to experience this fish-filled festival. Palanga is the resort town of Lithuania located on the coast of the Baltic about 25 minutes from Klaipėda. There is a street in Palanga that leads up to the pier out into the Sea. Today, this street was filled with booths and tents of vendors selling fish and authentic Lithuanian items. And the street was PACKED with people! I joked on the bus that we were packed in like sardines headed to the Smelt Festival, but then it was just as packed at the festival! Even though I don’t like crowds, this was still a really cool experience, and I am so glad I went! No, I did not eat fish heads like several of the other brave study abroads, but I did try Lithuanian hot chocolate (basically, hot liquid chocolate). I actually thought it was gross. I’m not really sure how to describe the flavor, but it was bitter, and nothing like Swiss Miss. I also tried a dark chocolate dipped waffle on a stick… that one was good. There were vendors selling jewelry with genuine amethyst, amber, pearls, and many other stones. There were also many vendors with handmade wool socks, scarves, hats, and sweaters. And of course, there was fish stand after fish stand where they were frying, smoking, and boiling whole smelt right there on the sidewalk. I only stayed for a few hours because I didn’t think I should be out in the cold too long, but I am so glad I experienced this piece of Lithuanian culture.
Fun Lithuanian Fact: Lithuanians have almost zero personal space. If you are in line somewhere, like at the grocery store or bus stop, and don’t stand directly behind the person in front of you, other people will go in front of you. If you aren’t practically touching other people, they assume you aren’t in line. … This has been a challenge for me…