Estonia Silence

Imagine that you are in a middle size supermarket, with some people doing their shopping.

Some of them are part of the same family, others are couples, group of friends, and of course.. there are people alone too.

Then, you realize that there is something strange. First, you don’t understand what is it, but then you hear the *crickets*. NOBODY IS SPEAKING.

Even in the line to pay, the silence is present. The person in the registry machine does all the work without saying a simple word and the people in the line to pay don’t say anything. It’s a complete silence!

This happens to us in a supermarket in Tallinn (Estonia capital).

Maybe this surprise was bigger for me because I’m from a Latin country where is difficult (or even impossible) to have silence in a place like a supermarket. But, even so, I was intrigued about that…

The mystery…

That mystery was only revealed in the next day when we went for a walking tour of the city and the guide explained us the difficulty that the Estonia people have to interact.

She also jokes with that saying this problem is also affecting the dating process.

More seriously, she told us the reason for the lack of interaction. Estonia is currently living the longest period as a free country (26 years). Several countries and regimes (communists, nazis) invaded Estonia in the past due to the strategic location in the Baltic Sea and enforced on the population the dictatorship of silence for survival. There is even a museum of occupation that we recommend for you to visit when you are in town that explains the repression the people were exposed to.

Actually, the Estonia occupation for other countries was so common, that they created a system to show to the people who are the current country in charge hasting the flag of the country on the top of the tallest tower in Tallinn!

This absence of freedom and free speech created wounds that will take more time to the Estonia people forget and trust again that the free speech is a reality.

Estonia today…

For now, the flag in the tower is the Estonia flag only in the last 26 years, and Tallinn has become a cultural hub boosting with young entrepreneurs and artist neighbourhoods, so different from the times of occupation.

The Europe free spirit booms in the city, but somehow these old scars are still open in the minds of its citizens and that shows in the silence of public places and in Estonians shyness.

While travelling, we learn not only from viewing beautiful cities and natural places… We learn from its people, its culture and the way that people behave if you truly want to pay attention…

Estonians are a proud and resilient people and their kindness after you overpass the fearfulness barrier is unbelievable! So don’t let yourself have the prejudice that they are cold or unfriendly, just try to understand first what they have been through before making any judgements and give yourself some time to get to know them.

How?

Appeal to their nationalistic pride!

Tell them how you love their language.

Tell them how Estonia is the most amazing NORDIC country (they are at a higher latitude than Denmark, so they don’t like to be called an East European country).

Be patient and wait for their smile to open up!

 

 

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