On August 21 I had to travel from Tartu to Tallinn to pick-up my jet-lagged folks from Tallinna Lennujaam. The last time I had made that journey was in the rain, and I have to say it felt more like Luke Skywalker's life-threatening trip into the Death Star in the first Star Wars film than any pleasant sojourn across the Estonian country side.
Estonian drivers, as previously discussed, are jerks. They pass people just for the sake of passing them, and often do it in groups (!) even in the face of oncoming traffic. So I was hoping that Tuesday would be a rain free day, but when I opened my eyes, Tartu was at the eye of a thunderstorm that lasted all morning.
I waited for the nasty weather to disperse but it never did and I decided to take a different, less life-threatening route to Tallinn, through Jõgeva. I would take the road to Jõgeva north, take the fork towards Tallinn at Järve-Jaani, and connect with route 2 somewhere after that. I knew it would add time to my journey, but I figured that the peace of riding alone through Täbivere was worth the extra 45 minutes.
It took me 20 minutes just to get out of Tartu and onto the road leading to Jõgeva, but once I got on it, I couldn't believe my luck. Somewhere south of Jõgeva the rain disappeared, and there wasn't a car to be seen plying the smooth roads of Jõgevamaa. I was so overjoyed at my luck I boasted to my wife on the phone about the good luck I was having. I guess I spoke too soon.
As I made my way north, I began to hit patches of gravel roads that hadn't been paved yet. Slowly these roads became longer in stretches. And I began to doubt the intelligence of my decision to go via Jõgeva instead of Põltsamaa and Paide. Another issue that reared its head was that I was traveling through an extremely unpopulated part of Estonia, with limited signs, lots of forests, and several intersecting counties. One moment I was in Jõgevamaa, then Lääne-Virumaa, then Järvamaa, then back into Lääne-Virumaa.
At one point the road to Tallinn was blocked. There was literally a big sign that said Tallinn with a red 'X' through it. Instead they put me on the road to Rakvere. So I kept heading north, thinking that at least I could get to the Tallinn-Narva road if I got lost and take that into Tallinn. Then I wound up back on a road that allegedly was heading to Tallinn. At all times these roads were empty. I envisioned myself in my own film. Rather than Jan Uuspõld Läheb Tartusse, it was Giustino Läheb Tallinnasse.
That's why when I began to feel the urge to spring one, I began to ponder, Could I just park my car in the middle of the road and pee right there? Was that allowed? I ask this question because I know that public urination is regulated in some countries. For example, one time in Helsinki, I got off at a random bus stop, just to spray some random bush and wander around lost for an hour or so. I was later informed that there are strict laws against peeing on bushes in Finland, and that the Finnish Secret Police could have caught me and -- needless to say -- I could have been subject to unspeakable acts of torture at the hands of guys named Pekka and Jaako.
After several kilometers of debate, I decided that I was willing to risk a run-in with KAPO just to take a leak on the side of the road. I pulled into a place called Ambla Vald, in the northern reaches of Järvamaa, parked near a bus stop, and relieved myself. This was a very interesting place to do it, because Epp's father's family is originally from Ambla Vald. For centuries, people looking like Epp had wandered these roads, perhaps taking a minute to pee in private not to far from where I was unloading my bladder. It was a true historical moment, as if all the streams of our family's Eesti past had been combined into one.
As I headed north I began to wonder if there actually was an end to this huge expanse of fields called Estonia. There were small villages, but they all looked the same. Plus I hadn't seen a sign for Tallinn in quite sometime. I was afraid that I might turn off the road and be in Narva, or even worse, Latvia. Finally a sign said Aegviidu. That looked sort of close to Tallinn on the map. But I wanted to get straight across, from Aegviidu to Kehra to Jüri and then north to the airport. The map said it was possible, but I would have to go through small Harju villages like Peningi and Vaskjala.
The windy roads did not prevent me from speeding like a devil as I could taste the sweet asphalt of the Tallinn-Tartu road in my mouth. First Lükati, then Peningi, then Kalesi, then Aruküla, then Pajupea, Vaskjala, and finally, Jüri. Finally the large box-shaped stores of the Tallinn metropolitan area began to appear. I have to say that I was surprised that Harjumaa was as empty as most Estonian counties. I zoomed along north to the airport, boldly passing every automobile in my way.
When I got to the airport, my folks were there. Two of our relatives had come up to keep them company while I had been pissing in Ambla Vald. And as the sun shimmered on Ülemiste Järv, nobody seemed like they really believed my 'bullshit' story that there had been bad thunderstorms in Tartu, and that's why I had to take the Tartu-Jõgeva-Aegviidu-Peningi-Tallinn road.