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Heartsick? An Estonian Pharmacy May Have A Cure

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Heartsick? An Estonian Pharmacy May Have A Cure


Heartsick? An Estonian Pharmacy May Have A Cure

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Now, a postcard from Estonia.

Estonia is one of the Baltic states that won independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union. And its capital, Tallinn, hosted a gathering last week of NATO foreign ministers. NPR's David Greene reported on that meeting, but he also took some time to go looking for love - of the potion variety.

DAVID GREENE: At an international summit like this, leaders often have time to get out and explore. But the foreign ministers here, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, were running behind schedule because of a volcanic ash cloud. They were just happy to get here.

Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): The only regret I have is that I had to spend all my time in meetings, instead of enjoying Tallinn once again.

GREENE: Tallinn is the small capital of Estonia. I escaped the meetings long enough to look around. I'm happy the foreign ministers didn't.

(Soundbite of bell ringing)

Surely, they would have stopped here, the town's cobblestone square and a major attraction, the Town Hall Pharmacy.

Mr. JURI KUUSKEMAA (Local historian): In Western Europe, a town hall was square and the square was market.

GREENE: My guide, local historian Juri Kuuskemaa, told me the place opened in 1422 and may well be Europe's longest continuously operating pharmacy. The place is also legendary for its herbs, wine and medicines.

Mr. KUUSKEMAA: And even such curiosities as aphrodisiacom. Do you know what is aphrodisiacom?

GREENE: Here's why I worried about all those foreign ministers coming here.

Mr. KUUSKEMAA: You can go to pharmacy and buy special materials, so-called�aphrodisiacom,�and when you give to her, it is fate. She couldn't do nothing against it. And lady would love you to the end of their lives.

GREENE: That's it?

Mr. KUUSKEMAA: Yeah. Yeah. And when you have two or three wives, for example, and you see one is happy but two are unhappy, you can buy, here, special materials to give to these two unhappies and they forgot you, and would find happiness with another man, not with you.

GREENE: So it stops the love?

Mr. KUUSKEMAA: It is an anti-aphrodisiacom,�yeah. So love could be good regulated with drugs. It was so.

GREENE: Was so and still is so. We went inside.

Mr. KUUSKEMAA: (Foreign language spoken) Please look.

GREENE: There, on display inside, readily available, was the pharmacy's famous anti-aphrodisiac. Each individually wrapped piece of candy is packed with the secret ingredient: almond powder. People struck by love use it to cure themselves. But pharmacist Ulle Noodapera says visitors will just come in and taste it, despite the risk.

Ms. ULLE NOODAPERA (Pharmacist): How long we have sold it? I think, 500 years.

GREENE: Did any of the leaders who were here for the NATO meeting, like Hillary Clinton or - did they come and buy any of the anti-love...


(Soundbite of laughter)

No. I didn't see.

GREENE: Maybe that's why they got along so well. They didn't eat that.

Ms. NOODAPERA: It may be. Yes. But I can't say.

GREENE: Well, then I'll say it. The last place you'd want to kill the love is at a meeting of the NATO military alliance. Juri agreed with me.

Mr. KUUSKEMAA: Love has more power as rockets in the world, and it is the main power of the world and for humanity. And this power really can protect us. Love - not rockets.

GREENE: David Greene, NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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