Diving in the Daugava, about three birches, Staburaga's photo

The upper part of Staburaga in 2021

In my grandfather's home, Jēkabpils district, from an early age, as a boy, I saw a photograph hanging on the wall in the living room, overlooking a mighty valley, with a flowing wide river meandering belt that looked like trapped and pressed between two steep dolomite walls that looked more like shields. protecting the inhabitants of the valley from the winds. At the very top, at the very edge of the slope, stood as if walking at a rapid pace, but, suddenly frightened of the abyss, stopped at the very edge of the cliff, the forest. So he stood there, leaning over a dangerous line, Some of the trees, however, seemed to be unable to hold on, and now hung down, but with their roots clinging tightly, just like a bird of prey holding its prey in its grip.

Three birches

However, neither the river nor even the fallen trees caught my boy's attention - it was an unusual rock standing in the middle of it all. Three birches were rooted at the very top, forming a sad antiquity with their fine, long, drooping branches, but a stream of stream water flowed along the roots, which further collapsed down the cliff, disintegrated into a thousand splashes, and disappeared into the Daugava stream. With its whitewash whiteness, the rock in my child's memories could not conjure anything but Santa's white beard (please don't confuse it with Coca Cola Santa Claus). But the three curvy birches in the spine looked like eyelashes in anger.

It was a smoky Sunday, April 19, 2004. We left Riga in a mighty column, which consisted of three cars. The diving equipment was even placed under the seat - so much had to be taken with you.
Upon entering Staburags, the road stops on the bank of the Daugava - on the right the road leads to Vīgante Park, but in the direction to the left, a wide trail winds along the shore, at the beginning of which a sign with the inscription “465 steps to Staburags cliff” is inserted into the ground.

Unlike the previous time, when I had just come to see the surroundings, I got the impression of a fun-abandoned town, but this time I was attracted by many men, women and children in folk costumes, as well as the stagnant asphalt street in the USSR. with colored buses.
Could it occur to us that we will arrive on this very day, when the famous Latvian choir music composer Pēteris Barisons celebrates its 100th anniversary in Vīgante Park.

After counting these steps on the map, we almost came to a house on the edge of a cliff. (these houses are the rural property of Māra Svīre (1st) and Vladimir Kaijak).
We talked to my husband, who called himself Māris, that we would be able to enter the yard with cars, because the equipment weighs a lot. A dressed diver gets about 40 kilograms heavier, and in addition comes search fittings. We also brought with us a generator that was supposed to operate the submarine cable video device and the submarine lighting.

Only a five-meter-high horizontal layered stone wall remains from the impressive ancient valley of the Daugava, a reddish-gray dolomite slope. The Staburags cliff has not been visible under the dark water for several decades, only the small stream leaked from the foot of the hill, and, as before, enters the Daugava, where it begins to evaporate again when mixed with water, and returns to the ground in the form of rain. It is possible that a drop of this mixture will fall on the fields in Aizkraukle district, and, when absorbed into the soil, will again enter the rock, where it chemically mixes with lime, breaks through the ground and flows back to Staburags…

We started to carry our devices in the direction of the water along the floor but on the walked path. As the waves of the Daugava washed away, the small stones had fallen down and the small ones
at the foot of the slope they have formed a beach boom about two meters wide.
We settled on this patch of ground, and although it was not very convenient, we installed a generator, because our video recording equipment required power. But most importantly - the kettle of coffee boiling water would not work without electricity!

Search for a place for diving

We only knew the approximate location of the rock - somewhere in front of it, in the water. We also knew that this rock is 18.5 m high stalactite, which grew out of the water of a lime-rich stream in about 300 years, but then, without bearing its weight, it broke and fell into small pieces when falling down. this cycle of collapse-renewal continued every three hundred to four hundred years. Fortunately, the weather was calm, but the tiny waves did not mean to disturb us. We came up with the simplest search option - the weight of the lead in the sowing rope and the design, as far as strength, far. I felt the rope stretch as I sank. I started to pull the rope slowly, releasing it from time to time, because once the weight pulls the rope back to the depth, so the weight hangs over the top of the cliff. so I continued until at one point the rope no longer slipped back, but tightened. It did not stand back on the bed, but just as the muscle was released after prolonged tension, it floated to the top. We realized that this is also the end.

Diving into the bottom

When my colleague and I started diving, my heart started beating harder. A photo pops up in my grandfather's living room. Visibility was about a meter. Without a light, you could only search by touch. We followed the rope tightly, moving forward slowly, for fear of pulling the rope and thus losing the thin road sign. It was unusual for us not to see the waste that covered the bed of the Daugava and other reservoirs in places where people have built large settlements on the water's edge, which are proudly called clean cities. Only rocks, shells and two fish tapping on satellites.

Unexpectedly, a pillar about a meter long and about 30 cm round grew in front of the eyes, which was completely overgrown with snails. I turned the headlight to the right and saw another same pole. It became clear to me that if I turned the headlight to the left, I would see the third pillar. They were also the same three broken strains of birch water. Incredible feelings swore in me - as evidenced by the faster exhalation of exhaled air bubbles from the lung machine. With the camera, I swam around the stumps several times to include every detail in the frame - as if filming a dying relic.

Staburaga rock

The Staburaga rock, sung in songs, legends, fairy tales, stories, passed from mouth to mouth, shrouded in legends and stories - and I stand on it, clinging to the same birches - here they are, in my hands.

However, how strange that this meeting with cultural history took place at a depth of 10m underwater. And how inappropriate and unrealistic the snails covered with birch stumps looked.
How to describe these feelings - to see and feel in fact what you have seen only as a reproduction, something far and unreal, but now it can be seen, to feel real, it seems that it has even seemed to have returned from the past to greet with you and say, "Don't worry, I'm not lost anywhere, just a few tens of meters, and, behold, birches, though a little shorter, are here with all the snails!"

Author Juris, November 10, 2009