After the last reactor closed down, it was easy to ignore Visaginas. But I reached out to its isolated communities
On a rainy and gloomy November evening in 2015, feeling a little like Alice in Wonderland, I took the last train from Vilnius to the north-eastern edge of Lithuania. The train was spacious. I didn’t know those old trains still existed in my country. You could easily dance among the aged wooden benches, on which people were sitting scattered here and there. Speaking in Russian, they made me feel as if I was travelling on the Trans-Siberian railway. My heart was racing, because at the end of this surreal ride I would see the man I loved. We’d met two weeks earlier, and here I was on my way to visit him in the most unexpected of places: the nuclear plant town of Visaginas, in an area kept secret and closed off during the Soviet period, and where today 20,000 people still live.
The aura surrounding Visaginas had always been spooky, alien, apocalyptic