Our first full day in Estonia was a “down day”. The kids really needed this. We got them caught up on their home school and let them watch a few shows and play in the park. I walked around Old Town Tallin for a little bit while Ashley stayed with the kids. It’s definitely beuatiful.
Today, we went to a bog. It didn’t sound exciting to the kids or me either, but Ashley was all gung-ho about it so we went. It turned out to be a great day. We walked to the bus station and caught a bus that took us about 25 miles outside of Tallin and dropped us off on the side of the highway. We walked a ways to a trailhead in Laheema National Park. The trail took us on a boardwalk across a peat bog.
A peat bog forms where water tables are low and peat moss grows. The moss grows and then dies and is covered in a new layer of living moss. This happens year after year, century after century, eon after eon. Because of low oxygen levels in the water below the top layer of moss, the peat moss decomposes very very slowly. The layers of dead moss can build up this way until they are fifteen feet thick. When you walk on the parts that will support your weight, it is very wet and spongy.
We spent the whole day there. It was very other-worldly and beautiful. Apparently the water is very pure and clean although it is brown due to a high humic acid content. Jane and I jumped in one of the bogs and swam (this is a park sanctioned activity, although I’m not sure my euro-style swimmies were park sanctioned). The water was cool but not cold, and although it was as brown as strong tea, it didn’t smell at all.
We also found wild cranberries and bluberries, and a type of berry that is called brusnika.
Nolan and Jane also caught 9 tree frogs while we were waiting for our bus back to the city
So, here’s a brief rundown on the Baltic Countries in case you were wondering:
The Baltic States or Baltic Countries are so called because the border the Baltic Sea, the body of water that sits between the majority of the European mainland and the Scandinavian countries of Finland, Sweden, and Norway. The Baltic Sea is connected to the North Sea which is in turn connected to the Atlantic Ocean.
This is a very strategic location as it is a key sea connection to northwestern Asia. Historically, it has been the target of the Swedish, German, and Russian empires.
These three countries were under the control of Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, but gained independence after WWI. This independecne was short-lived however as they were annexed by the Soviet Union after WWII.
In the late 80’s, during a massive campaign against soviet rule, the people of these countries held hands and formed a human chain that stretched from the capital of the northernmost country to the capital of the southernmost. This chain from Tallin, Estonia to Vilnius, Latvia took 2 million people. Soon after, they gained independence from the USSR.
Each area has it’s own language, culture, and traditions. Although the people of these countries speak their own native language, they are nearly all bilingual. Generally the younger generation speaks English and the older generation speaks Russian. Many people here speak both English and Russian as well as their native tongue. Each country also has a fairly large population of Russians.