Latvian Ruins No 4

Out of town petrol stations are like alien beings on the landscape, where folks from elsewhere fill their Japanese or German vehicles with back stuff that bubbled up from hot Arabian sands, before scurrying off to somewhere else significant.

But they are also local places, where youngsters who have not yet made the big move earn some cash, and teenagers not exactly spoiled with entertainment choices hang out. And when the small local business fails in the hopeless struggle against the multinational competition, then it becomes an entirely local problem. Or an opportunity...

The image shows a carwash which is part of a station which has stood abandoned for years by the Ventspils highway near Smārde. If you take a closer look, you can find sign of life after death. Most crudely, the place has become a dumping ground – judging by the numerous empty coffee jars in one pile, someone must have had a sleepless night when they popped in.

There are also messages from the local youth: the inevitable Kaspars ❤️Ieva, comic sketches of dudes smoking giant spliffs, vulgarities in several languages, and of course drawings of dicks. Whether drug filled orgies have really happened here only the night knows, but judging by the broken bottles, more traditional highs have certainly been reached here.

Whether it’s actually happened physically or only at the conceptual level, this is a place where youngsters shed a little daylight on our collective shadows. Here, away from teachers and parents, and CCTV cameras. I think we are all beginning to miss places free of those.