As a recent arrival in Riga, I feel I have to express my dismay at the absolute barrage of explicit, practically pornographic material that my children and I are exposed to every time we attempt to take in the historic sights of the Old Town.
After my husband and I heard about his new job posting here this summer, we read nearly every travel book we could find about Latvia in our small-town bookstore in rural Wisconsin. All of them described the rich cultural heritage of the capital city, it's medieval architecture and so forth.
Therefore I was completely shocked when, on our first visit, we came across streets filled with packs of drunken young men, strange characters passing out brochures featuring topless women (and a lot of these brochures seem to end up on the street where anyone, including my four-year-old and eight-year-old boys, could pick them up), and establishments offering who-knows-what services. Add to that the sinfully-dressed girls who I see roaming the area on weekends and you've got a recipe for disaster.
How, I ask, am I supposed to give my children a decent, Christian upbringing in such an environment?
Before we came to Latvia, some of our well-traveled friends back home told us how much more sophisticated Europe was compared to America. Well, I can't say that I have a fair basis for comparison since this is the first stamp in my passport so far, but from where I'm sitting, that so-called "European sophistication" is a lot of hooey. Or are loose morals what pass for sophistication these days?