Keila-Joa, Estonia

June 25, 2000

Jokingly referred to as Estoniaís Niagara Falls, Keila-Joa contains a park with some easy walking trails. I took a bus which let me off on the other main road and stumbled upon the park after going through some apartment buildings. After going into the small wooded area, I could hear the water, so I knew I wasnít far, but coming in through the back entrance introduced me to some abandoned buildings. One was a boarded up school, the other some sort of underground tunnel (didnít have the proper lighting to explore) and two or three quasi-multifamily house like buildings, but it was hard to tell what they were exactly as it was just a bunch of concrete walls.

One international rule about abandoned buildings and secret hang outs: thereís always a pair of old shoes. It can be any kind of shoe. Iíve seen womenís high heels, army boots, menís business shoes, and doll shoes, but for some reason, dirty shoes appear to seek out these places for retirement internationally.

While looking around and past the shoes, something glittered and caught my eye: my souvenir for Estonia: a 1986 (Soviet era) Russian military button!

The falls or the park didnít turn out to be anything spectacular. Itís very tame, and like in the city, itís hard to get a smile returned from a local, particularly the older ones. They probably wonder what you are doing smiling at them. Some give the impression that they are about to grab tight to their children or tell them to run away from these foreign invaders.

After awhile, I was able to get an old Estonian at the bus stop back to Tallinn to warm up. He was going shopping for two days in the city since his grandchildren were coming to visit in his summer house. I have yet to visit a dacha; however, most people appear to have them in the Baltic States, Finland and Russia.

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