Spain, July-September, 2003. This summer is a special one. I uptake hitch-hiking as a means to travel and, far better, a handsome Lithuanian man finds his way right into my heart. After a magnificent holiday together, we part with the promise to see each other three months later, at Christmas, in Lithuania.
Spain, October, 2003. My creative nature gives me a brilliant idea. I decide to organize a quiz about Vilnius as a Christmas present for Augustas, with the price being a most special one: me myself prior to the date and time he’s expecting me.
Spain, October-December 2003. An intensive Internet research on historical sites in Vilnius helps me to compose a wide array of questions. My Lithuanian friend J. in Zaragoza assists me in choosing the right amount of questions with an acceptable level of difficulty. Being from Vilnius herself she can estimate best what the average person knows about the city, the distances on foot between the sites, and thus the approximate time the quiz is likely to take. Last is essential for planning the outcome of the quiz – the receiving of the gift (me) at the right time.
Lithuania, December 2003. Following, I involve J.’s sister C. She lives in Vilnius and helps arranging everything physical involved in this quiz. She makes the print outs, seals and names the envelopes, and delivers everything to Augustas. She furthermore places ribbons on each historical site Augustas is supposed to find.
Augustas receives following package. A big A4 envelope stating, “Open first on Christmas Eve“. Inside he finds: one A6 Christmas Eve message, eight A5 envelopes, and one A6 “Where to go” envelope for the end of the game. Each of the eight A5 envelopes contains three A6 envelopes named QUESTION, RIBBON FOR QUESTION, and JUST IN CASE. The right answer to a question will lead Augustas to the historical site where the ribbon is fixed. He is supposed to cut the ribbon and carry it along to proof he has been there. In case he finds the site but cannot find the ribbon he is allowed to open the RIBBON FOR QUESTION envelope, which points out the exact location of the ribbon. If the ribbon was removed from someone unknown and therefore is a missing proof to the right answer, he is allowed to open the JUST IN CASE letter, which confirms if he is at the right place. Augustas is instructed to open the next question only when the first one is solved. Besides the Christmas Eve message, he is allowed to open the other envelopes only on December 27th, the day of the quiz. He has to seek permission for starting out on the quiz by making a missed call to C.’s mobile phone number and wait for a missed call in return.
Vilnius, Lithuania, December 27th, 2003. I arrive early morning with the night bus from Germany. I meet C. in the city center, where we go to a small café near the Cathedral Square, and give finally the “GO” for Augustas quiz. We are chatting joyfully until 3 missed calls from Augustas phone indicate that he has solved the last question and opened the letter “Where to go“, which reveals the location of his “present”.
Now it’s my turn to position the gift on the miracle stone “Stebuklas” in front of the Cathedral Square. It is situated about halfway between the Cathedral and the bell tower, and marks the end of the 2 million person human chain leading from Tallinn to Vilnius (650 km) in a peaceful protest against the Russian occupation on August 23, 1989. A symbol of freedom and hope, Stebuklas is believed to perform wonders. One has to stand on the miracle, turn 360 degrees clockwise, and make a wish.
The stone’s history and it’s magic power are in my opinion the perfect place for Augustas to find his Christmas present. Highly excited I await his arrival. Once spotting him I face a challenge in staying put on the stone. I can’t wait wrapping my arms around him, and would have loved just to run up to him. But maybe then the magic would have been gone. And thus I wait, until… what follows I estimate unnecessary to describe 😉