So don't ask me how in the world this has happened, but somehow I"m sitting in my living room and I'm online. I've tried to work with the random airport connections that show up on my computer a ton of times, and suddenly today it decided to work. It's like God is trying to tell me something. Maybe, just maybe, there can be highs...
Let me say first that this past week has honestly been the worst week of my time here. It was mostly stupid things, but I was feeling endlessly frustrated and like nothing was worth my time. I don't know why it was so awful, but it just was.
Then came the weekend. Ah the weekend. This weekend has been seriously incredible. It has more than made up for all the misery of the week. First of all after work on Friday my friend Nicole came and hung out with me. We just wandered around Cheb and had a great time. Naomi joined us for dinner and then we parted ways with Nicole and went to our Christmas party. Tammy was sick and wasn't able to come, but other than that it couldn't have been better.
A lot of students came and I was feeling good and brave and circled the tables like I knew what I was doing. It was so nice to just get to know them all better in a more relaxed setting. Then they performed their songs, which was also a lot of fun. In the middle of the students Naomi and I put on our own little show. We sang Silent Night in Czech and it was a HUGE success. Funny, because we started too high and my voice was all over the place in annoying ways, but the students LOVED it! We're talking they clapped and clapped and clapped and asked for an encore. Fortunately we had also planned a short poem, so we were able to give the people what they wanted. It was really great. Afterwards several of my students kept gushing over how great it was when we sang. They said it was all they would be talking about in class on Monday. So sweet. I kept moving around and visiting with different groups and then I got to be made a spectacle of when one of them decided we should dance. It was a rather unique experience, but again the people said they enjoyed it.
(wow, I just got to talk to Janet on Skype here in my own little flat! Way too cool!)
After the main party I went with a group students to another place and we hung out there and talked and played fusball (I really don't know how to spell that!) until about 2:30! I got home about 2:45 and was in bed by about 3.
At 8 my eyes popped open and I knew that it was time for me to get at the day since there was so much to be done. I got ready for the day and hurried out as soon as I could. On my walk to the train station I got a text from my friend Crystal telling me she'd forgotten her passport and had to go back to Sokolov, meaning we would have to take the next train two hours later.
I met Crystal at the train station around noon and we walked to the international ticketing office. As we headed over I recognized this random guy from Germany who had come to Winfield for 3 days on holiday to practice his English. I'd just had him in class Friday morning, and talked to him a little at the Christmas party. He asked where we were headed, and when we said we were going to Nurnburg he said he was on his way home to Stuttgart and asked if we would like to ride in a car. How could we possibly pass up the option for a free ride in a BMW??? So of course we took him up on it, and away we went on a fascinating drive through Germany. Not knowing him very well, it was a little difficult to come up with conversation for an hour and a half, but we managed, and it was all quite nice. We also had the experience of going about 200km/hour on the autobahn. Pretty sure I've never gone that fast before. Good times.
We arrived in Nurnburg around 2 and had a great time just randomly wandering around the Christkindle Markt, after having a nice (and rather expensive) lunch at Burger King. We were commenting on all the English we were hearing, and how amazing it is how we overcompensate when we hear English. At this point it has become so rare, that we can recognize the dulcet tones of our native tongue from some considerable distance. And then, out of nowhere, I heard my name. Much to my surprise, I turned around and there were 4 of our teachers from Slovakia! Of all the crazy things! We couldn't have planned it to work out so well. We wandered around with them for a while, which was also really nice. Then we continued through the market where we had a great time looking at all the ornaments and Christmas food, and of course the frightening prune dolls. Don't even ask!
It was incredibly cold, and by about 5:30 we were ready to curl up someplace nice and warm. We found a Starbucks, and felt as though we'd stumbled upon a little piece of Heaven for sure. It was so nice to enter the familiar surroundings, and breathe in the happy smell of coffee from home. We both sipped on Creme Brulee Latte's and just enjoyed the beauty of the moment. We discussed plans for the future, and the deep things of life. Coffee tends to make us wax philosophical just a bit. Then it was off to find der Bahnhof.
I must confess my German is lacking, but we did decently well, all things considered. We both got over any fears we may have had about approaching strangers, and managed to book a couple tickets back the Cheb. Getting on the train was a bit baffling. Here in Czech there are always conductors wandering the platforms that you can ask if you're in the right place, but it wasn't so easy to find help. In the end we just climbed on what we were certain had to be the right train. A guy got on after us and with my rather pathetic German we were able to verify that we were in the right place.
It was the last train to Marktredwitz of the evening, and it was quite packed. In the end we squeezed into an already full passageway and did our best not to melt. Let's just say we had to put up with all kinds of temperature changes today. The guy who had helped us when we first got on found us again, and after several minutes let us know he wasn't actually German either, and spoke decent English. It was fortuitous because a few minutes later a conductor came to inform us that the train would be splitting in two. At the moment we were on the portion going the wrong direction, so the guy helped us switch to the right half of the train.
We ended up standing almost the entire way, but got to sit the last ten minutes into Marktredwitz where we changed trains and got on the train to Cheb. What a day of excitement for sure.
Once in Cheb we thought for certain the day would come to a quite close. I sat with Crystal in the station until her train from Sokolov was meant to depart, and then headed back to Skalka. I'd been having partial phone calls with Janet on the train, so when my phone rang, and then died, a few minutes later I figured it was just her trying to call again. Several minutes later I started hearing the text sound. I decided to just walk really quickly so I could find out what was going on.
Once home I pulled out my phone, only to discover that the train had not taken Crystal home, but had instead decided not to run at all. So I had to walk back to town to rescue Crystal. Tammy had come down to meet her, but since she'd been puking earlier in the weekend we didn't want to risk Crystal staying with her.
By the time we got back to my flat we were both cold and hungry. We munched on cheesy pretzel sticks dipped in ranch and let our bodies slowly thaw. I'd been carrying these cheese sticks as well as a coke, mandarins, and two twix bars around all day, and just never got around to eating them since none of our travels provided us with a comfy moment to eat. We then spent several hours curled up on my bed talking about any and every thing. At long last around 1 AM we decided to call it a day and curled up for a little sleep, a little slumber.
All in all it was a pretty crazy and amazing weekend. After my lousy week, it was really a blessing. And now I just hope this posts and that I really can have internet here in my flat!
There will be photos to come, but right now this connection is pretty slow and I don't want to risk it in anyway, so this'll have to do for now.