11 Jun

Today we went to the beach at Narva-Jõesuu. The weather was warm, even if the water wasn’t quite, yet. But that didn’t stop the throngs of people in thongs from spending their day under the warm arctic sun, cooled by the crisp nordic breezes.

In New York, a beach trip requires either forethought in regard to the layers of your wardrobe, or an advanced mastery of public towel-clad disrobing and always seems to make for a somewhat clumsy time at the beginning and end of a normal beach outing. Here, however, I was almost stunned to see a well thought out and sane solution: a freestanding metal orange colored privacy booth – smack dab in the middle of the beach. I could barely believe my eyes as I saw people line up, one by one, without annoyance or impatience and wait their turn to use this ingenious device. Having stepped inside to make use of it myself, I can only imagine that the reason I have never seen these amazingly practical privacy guards in use in the States is either because of a warped concern over possible liability, as one cannot see the goings on within it, or simply because no one has ever seen such a thing. I almost hope it is the latter reason.

I’ve said it before that the people of Estonia are beautiful, and in particular Estonian women are one of the best kept secrets of the north (case in point – my beautiful wife). And it is a little realized fact in the States that whenever you stumble upon an unusually stunning actress or model, with an almost unpronounceable name, the safe bet when guessing her national origin will be Estonian; i.e. Carmen Kass, Tiiu Kuik, Anett Griffel, Anna Torv, etc, etc… Technically most of the people on the beach here in Narva-Jõesuu were not ethnically Estonian, but rather Russian-Estonians. But having come from New York, and grown up in Brooklyn, I am no stranger to living with and among my Russian neighbors, so believe me when I say that there must be something special about the lifestyle, the quality of the food or even just the freshness of the air here in Eesti, because even the technically non-estonian women are unusually attractive here. Which brings us to the amazing paradox of today’s beach excursion.

It was an almost odd sensation to be on an open beach in the presence of barely clad bodies with an almost complete lack of self-consciousness or sexual tension. Maybe it is just me (and would probably be the same for my fellow nudity-sheltered Americans), but any trip to the beach in the States has always come with a slight underpinning of awkwardness when so many bodies gather in one place with so little fabric between them. But not here. It was almost as if there were an unwritten edict that had been issued, of which one was only subconsciously aware, that stated, “We are all just hairless apes. So get over it and enjoy the warm sunshine on your skin.” Or maybe it was just that nothing kills one’s hormones like a healthy sprinkling of babushkas mixed in among the beach-going populace.

Whatever it was, it was good. And I had a wonderful time, wading into the still icy waters of the Gulf of Finland, although I did not quite have the courage to venture in more than about knee high. And there was even a valuable lesson to be had on the crisp clean sands of the Narva-Jõesuu beach, with its mänd (pine) trees lining the shore. There are almost no sääsed in Narva-Jõesuu. This is because the closer you get to the sea, the less sääsed there are. This is a very important lesson to learn, because if you happen to be a hypochondriac inclined Ameeriklane, like myself, then you too would probably have sprayed yourself down with your newly acquired bottle of Diffusil Repelent before heading off to the beach, in order to ward off the blood hungry flying menaces that had quickly become the bane of your existence. And if you had, you too would have discovered that Diffusil and sea water do not mix. Or rather they mix quite well, if your intention is to create a green tinted coating on your skin. It must have been quite amusing to see me, a blatently loll Ameeriklane, standing there on the rand (beach), having just come in from the water, in my paikeseprillid (sunglasses) and H&M t-särk, which reads “Save the Fish!”, with green legs! Thankfully the tincture washes off in salt water, just as easily as it is made.

Tomorrow we are off to Tallinn with work starting on Monday. But we will be back here in Narva soon enough, and I am looking forward to the coming summer days when the water will be warmer and the crisp air all the more refreshing.


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