Friday, October 23, 2009

Grüezi! Mountain buses have grammatical errors - The 8th Entry

Guten Tag! Ich wünche alle ein sehr gut Tag. :)

I don’t know why I bother, once I return to Spanish infested SE Florida it’ll all disappear anyways. It’s still fun to dream right? Whatever. LOL

Okay, it has been a while, so I did a lot in the last few days so not to bore people with descriptions, I’m just gonna list stuff. If I feel like expanding, I will. And as per request, I’m writing these in Word first before placing them in the email since the lack of capital “i” are pissing some people off.

Well, I didn’t go to Luzern yet since I found an exhibition that’s opening on the 25 of October I want to see, so next week.

Last weekend was Liechtenstein (it’s a TINY country between Austria and Switzerland. You can drive through it in 25 minutes.). It’s a 3 hour train ride; Schaffahusen to Rorschach to Buchs then a bus to Vaduz (the capital of Liechtenstein. It’s nice to see a country with barely any poverty, everyone has a job, and everyone is middle class or above. Well, they have more companies and
factories than people. Regardless, I visited the Landmusuem to learn about its rich history and then to the Art Museum for an amazing exhibition called, Modernism as a Ruin. Deals with a lot of my personal concepts in my art. It’s on loan from Nuremberg, Germany.

They have a strange German dialect that I barely understood but funny thing is, they all speak English which I didn’t realize until after I spoke to them in German and then another person comes up behind me and speaks in English.

Then Tuesday was French-Swiss day. It’s a 4-5 hour train ride so I dedicated a whole day to it. Sat with some Americans (by accident, they found me) all the way from Zürich to Lausanne. From there I traveled to Nyon and took a mountain bus to Chateau de Prangins where I saw a great exhibition. The one thing I will thank the French for is bringing everyone out of the Christian inspired dark ages. Blessed science! Blessed Literacy! Blessed medicine! Blessed personal hygiene! It was really cool to see some of the first indoor plumbing showers, books on delivering babies and STD guides.

Then went to Vevey to go to the camera museum which was awesome. Then took a boat from Vevey to Lausanne. It was cold that day, -2 C so like 29 F? And I and these two gay guys from America were the only people sitting outside. We huddled together, watching the sunset and enjoyed the ride, waving to kids who were waving to the boat as it passed by. An hour and a half later, we arrived to Lausanne and never being there before, we found the underground tram that took us to the Gare (they didn’t know that was the French term for train station). At the
Gare/Bahnhof, they continued off to Genevé (Geneva) while I waited for the IC and headed back to Zurich.

Too bad I fell asleep on the bus, (I had to get up at 4:30am to catch a train out) and had to walk a good thirty minutes back to the house. Luckily, it’s right on our jogging path so it was familiar.

The next day, I went boating on Lake Zurich, which was fun. Weather had predicted that it would rain. It was nice to see that the sun came out by the time I got to Rapperswill.

Went to Kika (in Germany) and got pants! My 16W jeans have officially become useless (even with a belt) and I needed another pair of pants. Got a 44 (14) pair of black courds, would have gotten a 42 (12) but my only problem with the 12s is that I don’t have a waist, so its tight
and the “muffin-top” even though its in style, doesn’t looks good on anybody. I’m thinking of getting another pair since it was cheap, 9,99 Euros or 13,50 CHF.

Okay, since nobody remembered, the CHF is EQUAL to the $ right now, so I am not converting amounts to the $. The Euro is very high, unfortunately, so that’s why I show conversions. It may look like you get a lot for your money but you have to think about it like this: If I give 20 CHF to trade in, I’m only going to get back not even 14 Euros.

The boy’s birthday party is Sunday. They’ll be two.

I think I’ll be heading to Basel tomorrow.

The mail is delivered by a person on a motorcycle and they come twice a day. The streets are narrow here that it would be pointless to have a truck.

Das Woche, Ich koche; chicken und dumplings, meat loaf oder Fleischbraten, honey-rosemary cakes, biscuits, und baked Wurst und Käse sandwiches. Ist schmeckt sehr gut!

Ich wünche alle ein schön Schlaf!


Pic 1: Watching a guy seriously diving in the freezing weather in Rorschach.

Pic 2: Schloss Vaduz. The country is ruled by a monarchy so the royal family lives there.

Pic 3: From Buchs to Rorschach.

Pic 4: View from Chateau de Prangins overlooking Lake Geneva.

Pic 5: On the way to Lausanne.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Grüezi! Not Up to Wooden Chairs - The 7th Entry

Yeah, I know this is late.

Alain got sick, then the boys got sick and when the kids get do I. The only thing bad about Schaffhausen is that nothing is open past 7 or 8 pm. So when I was in Bern (the capital city or Hauptstadt), Sunday I got the boys cough medicine at the Apoteke (pharmacy) since the Rail City (the mini city underneath the Bahnhof) is open 24/7. And on Monday, i had to go to Herblingen, to their Apoteke to get me something too, and i slept all day and all night, not waking until 11am on Tuesday.

Now in Europe, its not like back in America where you go to Walgreen’s and grab anything you want and the only time you go to the counter is when you have a prescription. For any kind of medicine, prescription or not, you have to go to the counter and tell them your symptoms and
they recommend something. If anyone saw Bridget Jones Diary where she's trying to buy a pregnancy test in Switzerland but she doesn't know German, it’s exactly like that. Except that no one joins in...That’s in Italy where no one minds their business.

In a way, it’s good and bad. I can see the pros and cons of it. You just have to be stern if you want something specific. When i came back from Italy and that crap those people gave me didn’t do anything; you had to figure that I had an infection in my lungs and sinuses, fabulously green snot, i spend my whole night hacking up stuff and all I can think of is that I need America I would be paying hundreds of dollars for medicine that didn’t work because I can’t afford amoxicillin or a Z-pack.

I was skeptical when Libby went with me the day after Italy and she translated my symptoms. The pharmacists comes back with a tiny box that costs 7.50 CHF, it contains 20 effervescent tablets, a total of 600mg a day. For the first time in my life, what only antibiotics could cure, 3x a day for 10 days fizzy tablets did. My goodness, too bad none of that OTC crap back home could cure an infection. If you can do math then you would have been like, "Bekah, wait 20 divided by
3 is not 10, silly!" Alain had some left over from a year ago and I finished off his.

So this time, the second i felt the "gross, icky taste" in the back of my throat (Monday), i went to Herblingen and got the same thing again. Since i caught it a week earlier, today, i only have a stuffy nose. Yay for awesome medicine without a prescription.

Like i said, I was in Bern, Sunday. You can tell that it’s a really old city, very different architecture from Zurich and Schaffhausen. I saw the exhibition, "Kust der Kelten" (Art of the Celts), and I will say that its one of the best Celt exhibitions I have ever seen. I have yet to see one with a complete burial chamber back home, and to see one here was amazing. Too bad I had no one with me to go Art History psycho with.

Afterwards, I walked up quiet streets lined with Victorian row houses <3!, to the largest rose garden in Switzerland. They have a small cafe there that’s open until midnight and it was beautiful. The view of the city below was spectacular and I enjoyed a cold sunny day while eating the much I brought with me.

Again, since i only seem to draw all the weird people, I had planned to enjoy my ride back from Bern to Winterthur by going on the IC so i can work on some revising. So it’s a packed train but i did find a seat with a table. Then some old guy sits across from me. So i expect him to enjoy his coffee, gipfeli (croissant), and French translation of some American murder book. No, instead that he decided that he was going to talk with me and when he found out that i could speak English, the next hour was torture until he got off at Zurich. I heard all the demographics and population of every city in Switzerland, he even pulled out maps...pulled out maps. I swear it was to torture me. Can he not see that I had a 200 page stack of papers and a red pen in my hand, like dude, seriously...

But from him, I realize something hard; i consider myself a very intelligent person, but you never feel dumber than when you come to somewhere like Switzerland. These people NATURALLY speak at least 3 languages. This guy spoke, (he's from Lausanne (in the French part)) French, French-German dialect, Swiss German dialect, High German (what I’m learning) and English - pretty darn good English. You feel like and idiot when you can only speak ONE language, then they know you're from America. Yay for living in a xenophobic country! And these people ask you things about your own country that i don’t even know. Makes you seem like you live under a rock you're whole life.

Oh well, my other adventure, went horribly. I attempted to hike the Shilwald forest but it was raining (which doesn’t bother me) and i was okay with my jacket that had a hood and its waterproof, waterproof boots, thermals BUT my backpack isn’t waterproof and it’s big and bulky. So I had to return home, with a soaked backpack and everything got went, realizing that i can’t hike in this country without a waterproof backpack. So there will be a second attempt as I am going to borrow one.

Winter's here, the leaves are turning and yesterday the temperature was 40 F, tomorrow when i go to Luzern, it will be 30 F. Oddly enough, since I've been here to experience the transition in the temperature drop, its not very shocking. I was actually surprised that it was as low as 40 yesterday since it didn't feel like it.

Remember that in one of my earlier emails, which i mentioned about the boosters? It just so happens that Alain's boss’s secretary gave them something even better. Over here, they have these wooden chairs that you can adjust so it grows from infancy to the age of 12. She gave them the two she had since her children don't need it anymore. Libby was so excited since that was what she originally wanted but it 75 Franks each without the trays and straps (they would have needed it back then) and they couldn’t afford it. Libby and Alain keeping everything clean are going to sell the two highchairs since they also kept the original boxes.

Hrm, since I always seem to add a German conversation on here:

My trip to the Apoteke on Monday:

A pharmacist approaches me since her counter is open and i can't see her because of the support beam in the way:

"Grüezi! Kann Blah Blah Blah ?" (She’s asking if she could help me)

I reply, "Ja, kann Ich habe das? Aber in zweihundred, bitte."

She takes that package from my hand that says 600mg. She smiles, "Genau."

And I follow her to her counter where she hands me the 200mg box, "Das ist?" she reaffirms.

I take the box, "Ja! Genau, vielen dank.”

“Bitte shörn.” She types on the register. “Seiben und fünfzig.”

I hand her 7.50 Franks, repeating what she said (it helps me with my numbers), “Seiben und fünfzig.”

She takes it and counts it, “Danke! Tschüs!”

“Ciao!” And I leave with my medicine.

Pic 1: Aiden and his wooden chair.

Pic 2: Rafi and his wooden chair

Pic 3: The boys.

Pic 4: the boys.

Pic 5: Bern from the rose garden.

Pic 6: Otterngutstrasse, Libby's street.

Pic 7: Horgen, the town of water ferries (not fairies, ferries).

Now I was asked why am not in any of the pictures? Well, i travel
everywhere alone.



Monday, October 5, 2009

Grüezi! Girls are Grazing Cows - The 6th Entry

Now we're catching up. All the posts from the email will be added the same day here.

Guten Tag alle,

Well, even though i did a few things this week, I think I will take a moment to write about other things.

- The boys saw their first hummingbird this week. Libby has a bush with purple flowers out front and early in the morning, it came by for a while to enjoy nectar.

- They all had a safe trip to Serbia, another poor as dirt country, Alain told me that 1 Euro goes a long way. He went to withdraw money from the ATM just to find out that you can only take out 4 Euros at a time when 200 of their money = 4 Euros. The monthly income is 150 Euros a month. Do the math. Billiana's and Sergio's re-wedding ceremony and party was wonderful (they are married but they renewed their vows), they had a lot of technical difficulties with broken planes, broken taxis and the limo forgetting to pick up the bride and groom. Libby said that Alain danced the night away, a beer in one hand and a cigar in the other. LOL.

I can't believe I haven't spoken about the neighbors! Their landlords are Indian; very nice people. Their neighbor who rents the townhome unit next door are weird. Since I'm out front often Libby warned me that the husband likes to wander around in his undies and I thought
that maybe she meant like boxers or tighty-whities. So I'm with the boys and they're being handy helpers by putting clippings in the bag when the wife comes out and I wave hi. They don't speak English and at the time I knew no German. She came out with her water can and started
working on their flowers. Now they are an older couple, maybe in their fifties or sixties, she's wearing pajamas and her husbands calls for her and she responds. Suddenly he steps out, wearing nothing but a little black bikini bottom and smiles and waves. I wave back; the boys
getting a glorious view of saggy skin, beer gut and grey body hair. LOL.

Okay, so I was alone this weekend and I rocked out, taking vengence on the neighbors below us who decided to have a party that lasted all night long playing their shitty music untill 6am without turning down the music. Saturday I make the trek to St. Gallen. A 2 hour train ride
through the countryside. On the way i took a train that rode next to the Rhine and it was very beautiful. We had to go through Germany for a moment but luckily "Kontrolle" didn't come on the train. My GA pass only covers fare & routes for all of Switzerland.

There was barely anyone on the train for about an hour and a half until we got to Romanshorn where a group of teenage girls decided that out of the entire empty train car that they were going to sit adjacent from me. We took off and they started eating loudly, smacking their chompers and eating with their mouths open. It was very annoying but i soon found out that it provided the perfect soundtrack to the pastures of grazing cattle outside the window. Then after they were done they were suddenly very loud and annoying, a few others who sat in my car at the time were, "shush"ing them constantly. Then one of the girls held out her hand to the friend in front of her and said very loudly in English:

"Hello! I am a frog! Hello! I'm a frog!"

"And what do frogs eat?! Flies!" said the other.

"Hello! I am a frog that eat flies!!" she repeats.

"Rararaaaazooooom!" screaches the thrid one.

The look on my face was priceless. A man came over and spoke to them. They giggled at him as he walked away. It was the longest 30 minutes on a train.

St. Gallen is a fairly large city. Houses one of the oldest libraries in existence, has a gorgeous rose garden in the center of the city and on Saturday is market day. All the stores are located in St. Gallen, open for business. People were handing out free chocolate, free bratwursts, Asian chicken, free wine etc. There was also an open air market where farmers sold their breads, crops and flowers. I visited the Textile Museum which was very nice, depicting the history of the textile industry in Switzerland. Also, companies had samples made available for citizens to purchase.

On the way back i took one of the regional trains, which i like riding. They are different from the Thurbos and S-Bahns. The regional trains have the tables, dining cars, lounges, etc. The one i rode was the IC that goes from St. Gallen and hits, Zurich Flughafen, Bern Flughafen and Geneva Fluhafen - so technically it rides across the entirety of Switzerland. They have a kidding play train car, places where large groups can sit and have meetings or chill out and areas where you can catch a snooze.

The IC doesn't go to Schaffhausen so I had to get off at Winterthur and i ran into my German teacher Frau Provolli. She asked me what i was doing in Winterthur since I lived in Schaffhausen. I was rather proud as I told her in German, "Ich komme auf St. Gallen. Ich gehe zu die Textile Musuem. Das Bahn nicht geht zu Schaffahusen. Das ist warum Ich bin in Winterthur." she got the point.

Sarah saw me off as I drove out of the driveway to get Libby, Alain and the boys. I thought i was going to be late since a ricer car was going 60 on an 80 highway, but there was one lane due to construction. One i got to the autobahn and the speed signs at night show a gray stripe, i gophered the guy in from of me. Normally its 100 which you can go 120 but the gray ban means that you can go as fast at your car can take you. It was awesome going 140! I made up time until i got to Zurich, then it dropped back down to 100. By then i was early. Booyah!

The boys were exhausted from the trip and I let them sleep until 9am (they normally wake up at 7:30), we had a fun morning (they are napping now). We watch Baby Einsteins (the animated series) in German, the boys love singing with the girl, Susan. Pip and Pepper, a German kids show with these muppets who cook and they share fun recipes for kids. Then after some reading and wrestling I got them to tire down by watching a show that Libby hates but they boys love it, "In The Night Garden" on CeeBeeBies (BBC kids station). Its a weird show, practically pointless but the boys love the music and they love the main character who floats off in a boat to the garden, he has a "blankie". Its about getting ready for bed and they like to wave to
all the characters as they go to sleep.

Pic 1: The inside of the kids train car on the second floor.

Pic 2: Marktplatz in St. Gallen.

Pic 3: Lace from a local company.

Pic 4: Schloss Herblingen. I walked an hour there just to find out I couldn't tour it.

Until next time, Ciao,


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Grüezi! Sweating in the Cold - The 5th Entry

Sent September 28, 2009

Grüezi! Sweating in the cold - The 5th Entry


Oh, such a simpler entry. I think I'll start with reminiscing some good times from Italy.

1. At the first moment of dusk, hundreds of bats silhouetted against the dimly lit sky barely feet above us.
2. On the way down, Libby fell asleep between the boys just to wake up to Aiden picking her teeth and Rafi with his finger up her nose.
3. Walking through Armaroni at night during their Catholic holiday and it was pitch black.
4. Fireworks waking us all up at 3am, celebrating the Catholic holiday.
5. Laying in the sun.
6. Doing laps in the pool.
7. The look on my face was priceless as the sun rose and I saw Italy for the first time.
8. Five hour siestas???!!! And worst, nothing opens or closes on time.


So, the boys adjusted back from the trip the worst. It was their first time being away from home long and for the next two nights they didn't sleep. After a day or two i was well enough to get back to jogging and it felt good to do so. I finally went to the harbor side city of Rapperswill (Rapper-svill) and walked the longest wooden bridge in Europe to the village of Hurden. The entire time i kept telling myself that thousands of people every year walk this rickety halfway rotted wooden bridge, it was the only thing that kept me from freaking out because every time i stepped on the vertical long bent pieces of wood, they either shifted or creaked and all i saw was myself plunging into Lake Zurich. I took the S7 train to Winterthur which rides along Lake Zurich so on the way back, i enjoyed a very scenic view of the lake.

It's been French movie week on one of the British stations (with English subtitles) so I finally jumped on board by watching a French/Romanian thriller called, "Them" which is based off a true story. It was a creepy film, but not in a supernatural way. More like a commentary on the outcomes of neglectful parents and some of the social issues of Romania. I really enjoyed it and being Romanian is one of my obsession countries, it was much more enjoyable.

Yesterday, Priska, Marco, Libby, Alain, the boys and I went to the Bachtel in Hinwill. Its one of those radio towers that you can climb but to get there, you park at the base of the mountain and hike up. its a 3/4 of a mile hike up the absolutely steep mountain. It was a terribly difficult hike and poor Priska who is a pack smoker, she kept saying, "Leave me behind! I can't do it!" then i gave her a pep talk. "If my fat ass + asthma can get up here with minor difficulty and all the old farts (who are passing by us with Nordic poles) who are making us look bad, then you can do it too!"

We were drenched in perspiration, our clothes soaked and red in the face as we went to the top of the mountain. The had a little restaurant and a kiddie park plus the radio tower. The climb was worth every difficult second to see the view. Afterwards we ate at the American inspired ranchero restaurant at the base of the mountain. Apparently, the original owner went to America, got inspired and came back to build this restaurant. The burgers sucked, taste like those frozen overly salted patties from the store but the ice-cream was the bomb!

Aiden babbles in gibberish like he's talking to you. Rafi says two words constantly (even though he doesn't know what they mean) "Why" and "Ich" clear as day. oh, "Ich" means "I" in German. Not the letter "I" but as in, "Ich habe ein klein Häschen." "I have a small Bunny."

We are currently looking for seat boosters since the boys do eat well at a table but the dining room table is really high and we all eat together so after realizing that its going to be too expensive (she has 2 babies, everything is double!), i told Libby that we can just get some foam, fabric and cardboard and we can make a small booster.

Shopping at Glatt Zentrum in Zurich on Friday where i encountered my first person asking me for money at Zurich Oerlikon Bahnhof. It was interesting because i was just standing there at my platform and some backpacker came up to me with his palm open and said something really
complicated. So I replied with, "Wiederholen Sie, bitte? Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch."

I don't know if he understood me but then he said much more simply, slower and loudly, "Kann Ich habe drei Franks, bitte?"

Since i finally understood i shook my head, "Nein. Tut mir leid."

Oh i know, i should have given him at least a Frank for amusing me. Oh well. LOL.

Well, Libby, Alain and the boys go to Serbia (its a country) on Friday with Billiana. I will be dropping them off at Zurich Flughafen. So wish them all a safe trip!

pic1: Boys eating ice-cream.

pic2: Rapperswill's Schloss (it was foggy that day)

pic3: We encountered cows on our way down. That's Priska with Rafi.

pic4: a doggy poo bag dispenser and no, that's not graffiti.



Grüezi! 20 hours of Rain - The 4th Entry

Sent September 22, 2009

Gruezi! 20 hours of rain - The 4th Entry

Guten Tag alle,

Well, I’m somewhat alive after surviving what is one hell of a trip from Italy. Italy was very much a culture shock from the overly romanticized view that America likes to make of it. Even though it may sound like I am bashing the country, I am not. Ya’ll know how much I like to travel off the beaten path and as we sat in a small “mom&pop” pizzeria in Armaroni (where Alain’s folks have a house), I told Madeline aka Monster-in-law, that I would not want to have seen the
tourists cities. This is what I love, to see the real people, to experience the real food and be absolutely horrified all at the same time. I feel as if I would not have appreciated Italy if I had gone to Firenza (Florence), Milano (Milan), Sicily, Napoli (Naples), Roma (Rome) etc. As Madeline said, those cities are where it feels like America. She said that when they first came to the village (population barely 1000 persons) of Armaroni, it was a culture shock too but it
grows on you. And I liked Armaroni, it was tiny, up in the mountains and everyone was nice. A lot of Swiss have vacation homes there so the restaurants speak German/Swiss German.


Nobody told me that Italy was a 3rd world country. This is honestly one of the poorest countries I think I have ever seen. And as I sat horrified at villages, towns and cities that looks like what we see on CNN of the war ridden zones in Pakistan and Iraq, I am surprised that people live in homes that are missing walls, roofs, filthy looking towns with garbage and trash everywhere, you didn’t dare find me without shoes. The public bathrooms are disgusting and yes, I took pictures.

It was POURING as we left Schaffhausen. We decided to travel at night because the kids go to sleep between 7:00 and 8pm. And we know that they wouldn’t wake until 6-8am. I didn’t see much as we drove through the Italian part of Switzerland and barely anything as we drove into

Our first mistake, I should have tried harder to convince Alain that we did not need a GPS unit. That shit device took us all over Italy; we paid nearly 70 Euros worth in tolls. (It’s 1.5 Euro to 1$) so nearly $102.00 in tolls or 106 CHF. You have to pay a toll to drive anywhere in Italy so the device kept taking us off and on the autobond. So Calabria is way in the arch of the boot so we know that we have a 17 hour drive, with the GPS it was nearly 20 hours. On the way back I asked Gustie (Alain’s father) to borrow his map and we didn’t use the device and you know what – we didn’t get lost and it only took us 17 hours!

My introduction as to the backwardness of this country was as we are passing the garbage heaps of Milano and we needed to head in the direction of Bologna, we pay our toll and take the roundabout to head towards Bologna just to be surprised by the entranceway into the autobond blocked off by a wall of fire and two unmarked trucks, in the pouring rain of course.

“What the fuck is that?!” exclaimed Alain.

We had no idea where to go and the GPS keeps telling us that we need to go on that road that was blocked off so lovingly by the mafia of the city. Spooked we drive in circles for a good hour. Just to pay more money and none of us speak Italian. So I tell Alain what to say in Spanish to the teller.

Now I love this scene, the teller is locked up in an airtight booth, no window, just a holes in a tray where you slide your money in. He has a long cigarette in one hand; the booth is grey with soot. Alain asked him how to get to Calabria and he slides in the Euros and the teller, smokes a bit, exhales against the glass and annoyingly says to head towards Parma. Without saying anything else he hits the button that lifts the bar up and we head out.

Eventually, after being pulled over by the cops (thank goodness they were the “good” ones). In Italy there’s two kinds, since we were in the prostitute section (and this is where we started playing, “Count the Prostitutes!”), the bad cops would have had all of us on the ground and probably have to have paid to get our passports back. Gustie (alain’s dad) warned us about them. They drive a different color car too because they are mafia controlled.)

Eventually the sun comes up, so I finally see this country, at first what I thought was abandoned cities lined along the highways. This is where Alain explained that Italy is a very very poor country. Like in Armaroni, every winter, all the men from the village head off to foreign countries, primarily Germany and Switzerland, with a program and they work for half the year. Madeline was saying that if we visited them in the winter, it would be all women and children in the village.

Eventually we make it to Calabria/Corregliano to our camping resort place. Mainly Germans and Italians go there and honestly it was beautiful. We had a great time and the kids go to be introduced to the beach and the pool for the first time. They love the pool and sand but are afraid of the ocean. I guess it’s the loud noises of the wave crashing onto the shore. :)

The people in the camping ground were very nice and Alain and I enjoyed the bar where we chatted with this one bartender who spoke only Italian and German. We had a little trailer, clean, roomy with a nice sized front porch where we spent most of our time and we were not even a minute walk from the ocean.

I unfortunately got sick. Our 20 hour drive in the cold pouring rain made me sleep a lot but I went to the beach and laid in the sun, unfortunately went into the pool (it was cold) and lost my voice for 2 days. The weather was perfect, warm, breezy and sunny.

Calabria is a poor town and as we would drive to the market (which was inside of a mall – how funny) we passed several regular prostitutes whom I lovingly called, “Blondie, Ugly Tan Line Girl, Leopard Skin, and Legs. Now what Libby and didn’t understand was that everything is
EXPENSIVE in Italy. These people don’t have money. Then it was explained to me that since they joined the EU and converted from the Lira to the Euro, it’s gotten poorer. To compare the prices before, as we left and stopped at a market for drinks, you could still see the marking of the old tags. For a bottle of water it’s used to be .30 Lira now its 3.20 Euro.

The one thing I was happy with was that (and this is cruel, I know) the Italians are exactly the way we stereotype them. Exactly! The men look like Casanovas with their darkly tanned skins, tight shirts, leather jackets, tight jeans, sleek glasses and slicked back raven black hair. The women are beautiful with long black straight but mainly curly hair, dark tanned skins, big tits and tight clothes. When they talk they always look like they are fighting, they are loud and the people in general were not very nice to us in this town.

Our trip to a “farmacia” was horrible. I asked the receptionist at the resort in German, “wo ist ein Apoteke in Calabria?”

She pulled out a map and sent us to an ocean side village where there are animals, strays and trash everywhere. I exclaimed, “We’re in Mexico!” It was the 5hour siesta time so people are just standing in the middle of the streets “talking” to each other. The farmacia tech look offended when I told her, “Gratzie” (thank you) as she gave me some stuff and after having to fight my way through the counter, I had to fight my way back out.

After we left Calabria, we headed towards Armaroni to drop the kids off by the parents so we could go to two Oceanside towns that I cannot remember how to spell. After dinner at a great pizzeria, we headed back. Never to be happier to be back in Switzerland.

The boys were awesome throughout this trip and they had a blast. In reality I had a good time too and happy to add Italy to my “places where’ve I been” map.

Other than that, after driving for 17 hours, I still went to class last night, happy for the first time to be able to ask my teacher for help in German. I got better medicine today.

Oh! There was 23 female prostitutes and 1 male prostitute.

Pic 1: dead frog in Calabria

pic 2: the family at the beach

pic 3: Me cutting Raffie's toenails.

pic 4: Gustie & Madeline

pic 5: view from Gustie and Madeline's place.

pic 6: A typical public bathroom in Italy.

pic 7: Finally in Switzerland as a schloss greets us in Lugano!

Until next time,


Grüezi! Banjos and Borzois - The 3rd Entry

Sent September 15, 2009

Gruezi! Banjos and Borzois - The 3rd Entry

Guten Tag alle,

Let's see, the usual. I truly can, Ich spreche ein bisschen Duetsch, since last week was all about learning common verbs like; to go, to do, to make, to see, to listen, to read etc... and a few more nouns under my belt and adding conjunctions makes it all the better. Today, i tried making sentences with what i knew so far. I think that I'm understandable even though the structures are crude. yesterday at Priska & Marko's, i practiced a bit.

I do have a funny (to some) story to tell but let me get through all the other stuff first.

The boys are good. Whiniest bunch of critters. Libby and Alain are having to deal with how exceedingly clingy (and i mean CLINGY) Aidan is to Libby. Other than that, they are like normal almost 2 year olds except that they can't say words. This week, I got them to shake their
head when they DON'T want something. It's better than nodding for everything.

Tomorrow we leave for Calabria, Italy. Honestly, I'm willing to trade my spot for anyone who wants to go. The thieves and mafia capital of the universe (I wish i was lying) has never been of any interest to me. I rather spend my time here hiking and wandering through Schlosses
(castles), seeing rose gardens and working on my German than sitting in a mini van with whiny babies and an overly emotional and dramatic sister for 17hours just to go to another country where I can't speak the language and remember to wear clothing where i can hide my money
and passport. LOL. Plus like I want to miss the newest episode of Sturm der Liebe (my German soap opera. They speak simple and slow enough so i can barely understand them and hear how they pronounce words). Felix just asked Emma to marry him!!!

This week's adventure was to Schloss Wildegg in Wildegg, Switzerland to see the exhibition i was absolutely eager to see, a poisonous plant exhibition which was awesome. They discussed how certain lethal plats are used in modern medicines and had lists, examples and books on the
plants and their usages. Schloss Wildegg itself was lovely, recently inhabited until 1912 when the last relative died (were they stupid enough not to have kids to keep this beautiful small castle?!?!?!). To get to the mountain, the town bus which runs every hour (it was a
village), dropped me off at the base of the mountain and stupid me, in heels hiked up the mountain (which is surrounded by farms) through cow and sheep pastures. I ate lunch under a large hazelnut tree in the rose garden and descended the mountain barefooted.

The next adventure was the day i spent in Schaffhausen, rediscovering Munot in the summer time, walking the Rhine (all 6 miles of it) and practicing my German whenever i had a moment, even if no one understood what i was saying, which was often. The pronunciations of
the umlauts (all those letters with the dots over them) and the Diphthongs (Double umlauts that are spelled multiple ways but make the same sound) are what i am having the most trouble remembering. At least the basic 26 letter alphabet is the same for der Deutsch
Alphabet and it almost sounds the same too in English. I feel terrible for the Turkish, Slovenians and the South Koreans in my class who don't use a Germanic based alphabet. When we learned it tonight, I tought the South Korean girl was going to cry.

Yesterday we went to priska and Marko's for Raclatte (its like fondue but not really) and I baked a carrot cake with creamcheese icing. Once again devoured completely. Tomorrow, I'm using up the last of our apples and peaches and making bread for the trip.

whatever else i did last week, i don't remember. It wasn't important then. Finally, Okay, now we all know that i can't meet nice normal people. Libby was like, "I've lived here for five years and no one talks to me, says hi to me or waves to me! You get people talking to you, guys
waving and everyone says hi! What the hell??" I always have to meet fellow freaks and weirdos. Effie, you would appreciate this encounter, it reminded me of "Ketchup and Sauerkraut".

So after an afternoon of eating lunch by the Rhine which we took the boys, I decided that i wanted to watch the sunset by the Rhine. Libby worked the night shift, so i put the boys to bed, Alain came home and I left and took the bus. but i knew that it was well past sunset, so I
figured on a nice evening stroll.

Now backpackers are common here in Switzerland so its not unusual to see a filthy guy on a bike with a backpack peddling down the sidewalk. So of course i see some backpackers setting up to sleep along the Rhine, and there were also groups of people everywhere. Apparently
there was an event going on.

Now i go under a small canopy of trees, humming along when i suddenly hear a banjo. Yes, a bonifide American banjo, strumming away some country tune. In the darkness i squinted and i see a large snow white dog standing in the middle of the sidewalk. As the banjo music got
closer, i realized that i was looking at a real life Borzoi! I've always wanted to see one of those dogs, especially since they are said to be almost gone.

There is a small bench in the alcove of the hazelnut trees and at first the stench of filth hits me. Then i see two guys, both dirty with shaggy beards, they looked younger than me, one was dark haired with a stupid looking hat and the other a blonde wearing suspenders and a pinstripe shirt. The blonde was strumming away on the banjo. The borzoi sat next tot the blonde man as i started passing them.

"Gruezi." the dark haired guy said.

"Guten Abend." i replied.

Then the blonde guy asked me something in German and i stopped because I thought i could translate it. He resaid it again and i realized that he was a foreigner, like myself, speaking german. So i replied, "ich spreche ein bisschen Duetsch aber ich spreche English. du?"

The guys looked at each other, blinked and slowly the dark haired replied in american english, "Yeah. Cool. Well maybe you can help us, we are looking for a gas station so we can buy beer."

Now I'm waiting for them to ask me for money. "Beer? Which way did ya'll came from because you would have passed one if you came from," and I pointed towards Munot, "That way."

"What about that way. "pointed the blonde guy.

"well, that way takes you to Germany and the only gas station is the one after the customs booth."

They looked worried, "Will they search us?"

and i laughed, "looking like they way ya'll do. Absolutely!"

They laughed. "So there's one this way" and he pointed towards Munot.

Once again i replied that he was correct and for a few minutes they wanted to extract an exact location from me but i didn;t know so i bid them a good night and started walking away.

the blonde guy then asked if i had wanted to smoke a joint with them, and promptly laughing out loud i told them that they smelled too bad for me to consider it. They waved to me, wishing me a good night and i wandered down the Rhine.

I didn't stay long because there was just too many people for me to find somewhere comfy to sit.

Anyways, that was it. Oh and don;t expect pics of the boys smiling, they are very camera shy.



PS: Schloss Munot is Schaffhausen's castle. Its on the mountain in the center of the town, you can;t miss it!


Pic1: the Rhein

Pic2: Rhinefalls

Pic3: Sign for the Poisonous Plant exhibition

Pic4: Aiden

Pic5: Raffie