The woman who cuts my hair is a Latvian. She's really nice, and, I have to say - her country gets a raw deal. For starters, Latvia consistently polls as the greatest enemy of the Russian Federation. Estonia came in fourth after Georgia. We've been lucky to have things work out ok here at my blog, but things can get downright dirty at Aleks' place - www.allaboutlatvia.com.
And if sneering former colonial masters weren't enough, Latvia gets broadsided by its Baltic brothers on a frequent basis. The Latvians are often the butt of jokes. In Estonia, if you are stupid, you are loll nagu lätlane (as stupid as a Latvian). I have also sensed that Lithuanians regard their northern neighbor as sort of a foolish country.
But compared to Estonians, all the Latvians - not that many, but how many do you need for a big, fat American-style generalization? - I have met have been softer, more pleasant people. Estonians are so puzzling that its hard to tell what emotion they are having, if they are having an emotion at that moment. They are like a nation of poker players, if you get what I mean.
Plus, if things have been hard for Estonia, Latvia's always gotten it just a little bit shittier. For some reason, even though most countries in the world could care less about some boggy land of Lettish people, Russia and Germany both have been so enthused about occupying and colonizing said land that they were willing to expend thousands of lives and considerable amounts of hard currency - not to mention effort - to try and do so. And yet Latvia survives, limping along here and there, but still running.
So to all Latvians, today I'd like to say Prieka!