From Latvia, with love


In April 1998, Douglas Poore went to Latvia to visit Baiba Paskevica.

The two had "met" in February 1997 in an online chat room. Baiba, a Latvian, was a college exchange student in Finland and Douglas was earning his marketing degree at Towson University.

With a curiosity about their different cultures as well as their university experiences, Douglas and Baiba began e-mailing each other and soon began a friendship. At the time, both were dating other people and found it nice, they say, to have a "listening post" who was a member of the opposite sex.

More than a year later, when their respective relationships had ended, Douglas and Baiba began discussing meeting in person -- still only as friends, they're both quick to point out. That's how they ended up at the airport in the Latvian capital of Riga one bright April day.

Though they didn't expect to fall in love, the couple say they couldn't help themselves. They knew each other so well from their e-mails. "You get so open since you think you'll never meet the person," Baiba explains with a smile.

Douglas and Baiba's "first date" was a whirlwind eight days of sightseeing, conversation and romantic meals under sunny skies the likes of which are rarely seen in Latvia during spring, Baiba says.

The cold, rainy weather more typical of that time of year returned the day Douglas boarded his plane back to the United States. But nothing could cool the warmth that filled both Douglas and Baiba's hearts.

Baiba obtained a visa to come to the United States in 1998. She came in late June and worked at Towson University for a short time. After her job ended, she and Douglas spent weeks exploring the East Coast. Douglas showed Baiba everything from Fort McHenry (where she was able to participate in a color-guard ceremony) to Atlantic City.

In October, just hours before Baiba was to board her plane to return home, the couple made a quick visit to Liberty Park in New Jersey, and there, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, Douglas proposed. Baiba answered yes.

This past January, Douglas returned to Latvia to help Baiba obtain a Latvian "fiancee visa." While there, he met Baiba's grandmother and her father, Austra Abolina and Osvalds Paskevics. (Baiba was raised by her maternal grandmother after the death of her mother, Lolita Blumberga.)

In June, Baiba graduated from the University of Latvia with a bachelor's degree in natural sciences. She returned to the United States in July.

Douglas, 36, and Baiba, 23, were married Sept. 11 at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lutherville. Douglas' brother Brian was his best man. Baiba's best friend, Gunta Gabrane, came from Latvia to be her maid of honor.

Douglas' parents, Roger and Ingrid Poore of Timonium, were among the 40 guests. Baiba's father and grandmother sent good wishes from Latvia.

In accordance with Latvian custom, Douglas carried Baiba into their reception at the Allegheny Room of the Penthouse condominiums in Towson. As they crossed the threshold, Douglas stepped on a plate on the floor. The guests all chuckled when it shattered into 10 pieces. The number supposedly signifies how many children the couple will have.

Later, the newlyweds laughingly bit from an apple that dangled between them on a string. The Latvian custom symbolizes the unity and sharing that come with marriage.

Now that their trips between Latvia and the United States are over, both Douglas and Baiba are looking for permanent employment (Douglas in marketing and Baiba in biological research).

At the same time, they are settling happily into a marital routine at their home in Towson. Even daily tasks like making dinner and cleaning house are special for a couple who have spent so much time apart, Douglas and Baiba say with a smile.

Pub Date: 09/26/99

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