Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blizzard Break

Sitting in Bartholomeus, looking outside at a world turning white. Where does this come from on the fourth day of Spring. Two hours the sky was blue, now the flake accrue on people and ground alike...curiouser and curiouser as Alice would say. A white rabbit hole opening up before my very eyes. What a world.
And my teeth are fresh and white and gleaming (so I'm drinking a coke). Went to the dentist today, and it was free...a gift. First time in, um, I'd say 8 years, and not a cavity to be found. But I was told the gunk on my teeth was like stone, that for all my life I've been brushing the wrong way entirely. Perhaps now I can make things right.
Took a trip to Germany with my dentist as well. The things I can do in this European world. We spoke of Equatorial type countries and dreamed of better weather, then needed sunglasses, despite the weather insanity.
After a quick shopping trip, we made our way to the city center where she showed me an amazing basilica. The place looked fairly basic on the outside, but inside it was just fabulous. The walls were covered in carved stone figures, the ceilings decked out in the lives of the saints. There were bench seats lining the front before the alter, carved with angels in floral array. A massive pipe organ took up the back balcony, shrouded with Cherubs in pastels and saintly smiles. Perhaps the most curious bit of all was the collection of bones. Around the walls there were small alters with paintings above them, and beneath each painting a glass fronted box containing a skeleton wearing an elaborate costume, encrusted with jewels and finery. I was transfixed. Milena lit a candle and informed me that she's left candle wishes all over the world. If only she felt the courage to go straight to the source...but she did mention inviting me on another spur of the moment adventure in the future, so who knows what possibilities may await.
In the past twenty minutes the ground has gone from bare to being covered with a good inch of fluffy whiteness. Poor stork...
There is still more of Berlin to tell, still a large quantity of photos to share, but that can come another day. I've one more short story that I feel is worth the posting, it comes from the weekend before last.
Laura and I headed out to Prague for yet another CA meeting on Saturday morning. I wasn't really in the mood, but I knew it needed to be done, and in truth, having the distraction was no doubt better than any wallowing I felt like doing. We chatted it up in our little compartment, and after a few stops were joined by a young man in his mid-twenties or so. His face was a bit scruffy (Rebekah would have loved it!) and he had a bit of a brooding look. Perhaps that was just because as soon as he nodded to us and accepted our invitation to ride along he sat down and pulled his hood up so he could sleep.
Seeing as how the car was ours, we weren't bothered to quiet down or stop speaking English. If we join a car of natives we generally try to be at least a bit polite, but we didn't really care, so we chatted the whole trip and tried to process the past few days of our lives. (this is something we do quite well might I add).
Now for those not accustomed to train travel, or at least the Czech variety, we usually ride on an old rundown looking train (which Nicole affectionately liked to refer to as the commie trains)with small compartments for up to 8, but usually holding no more than 4, complete with shabby looking maroon plastic covered bench seats. We're talking the kind of seats that have been sat upon sooooo many times that they're permanently grooved. Yeah.
These compartments supposedly have climate control, but it really doesn't do a whole lot. Or more appropriately, you really don't have a whole lot of control over the climate, even if you move the little handle back and forth. This particular day happened to fabulously sunny, and naturally that meant that the heater was functioning. By the time we got to Plzen, where the train stops for a good twenty minutes, it was really warm inside. Wanting to enjoy the fresh air a bit, Laura and I decided to open up the window.
Now, I suppose you wouldn't call the two of us the most decorous pair. In fact, on these long trips, we tend to go a little stir crazy. So opened the window as soon as we stopped, climbed up on the little ledge between the bench seats, and poked our heads out like dogs. We drank in the fresh air, and looked around for couples making out that we could be amused by. (this is a very prevalent sight around here) Now these compartments are quite small, only about two and a half feet between the benches, so when the two of us were standing on the little ledge there was only about a foot of space in between us. We were having a grand old time when suddenly sleeping boy made an appearance. Much to our surprise he climbed up onto the little ledge with us and poked his head out the window as well, giving me a grin as he did so. I could scarce control my laughter. He sort of leaned out around me and started asking the man in the next compartment a question. As quickly as I could I stepped down, and rushed out of the compartment and across the hall to open the window there so I could burst out laughing without being totally rude.
It was seriously the most random thing EVER. Laura and I were both erupting with laughter as the preposterousness of it all. Talk about not having any idea of an American personal body bubble! Ha!
After this little incident we went back into the car. A woman came by and asked in Czech if this was the train going to Prague. I told her it was, which brought a surprised exclamation from the guy "Mluvit cesky?" to which I replied, "trohu" which means a little bit. He was still quite impressed and started rattling things off to me. After my very confused "co?" (what?) he slowed down and used enough words that I understood for me to grasp that he was asking if we were going all the way to Prague. I confirmed his suspicions that he would, indeed, not be getting rid of us any time soon. So funny. Even funnier was when I used the restroom later and realized that the train was mostly empty. There was really no reason for him to be suffering through riding with us. But whatever.
When he got out we roared with laughter yet again. I mean, seriously, what in the world was that all about? Who does that?
The snow has slowed a bit now, but I'm definitely looking out on a winter wonderland of a square. What a day.
Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention the craziness of the morning when I was informed ten minutes before my second class that I'd be getting an additional 10 students because Jonathan was out with a migraine. Fortunately they were at the same place in the book as my class, but their English is still lower, and I only know the names of a couple of them, so it was still a bit of a stresser. We somehow managed to understand each other well enough to survive a whole class (and my group was actually less in control than the newbies!) but hopefully they all learned something and had a decent time doing it.

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