As I sit here, I am amazed at the different feelings I’ve felt these last couple of days. On one hand I am lonely. We’ve not made any friends yet and I miss my friends from Mississippi and my regular phone calls with my sister. Jael has not yet made friends and I am feeling the stress of being her only “friend” right now. Yet, despite the lack of friendship, we are having a ton of fun. Life feels very peaceful and tranquil. Things that should stress me out don’t. Situations I should find terrifying are simply challenges to be beaten.
Since I last wrote, we’ve chosen an apartment in the city of Speicher. We signed a promissary note with the landlords, a husband and wife who speak basic English. They are very, very nice. The wife, Maria, teaches at theand was very good with Jael. She said to Jael, “I learn you German, okay?” We are very excited to have such a wonderful couple as landlords. The housing office has sick people so they will not have our contract ready until Tuesday. 😦 But come Tuesday evening, we will take it to Speicher, hopefully sign it and move in the next day. YAY!! No more TLF!!!
immediate need of a car, but would like one soon.passed his driver’s license test on Thursday. He said it was hard but not too hard. We plan on renting a car next Monday so we’ll have transportation to go sign our contract and so we can begin looking for a car to purchase in earnest. Israel will carpool with a guy from the shop to and from work so we are not in
We believe there is a market within walking distance of the apartment so maybe we can last longer without a car than anticipated. Also, the train station is less than a kilometer from our apartment so we may take the train to other cities as well.
And our concept of “long walk” is a little different than it used to be. The commissary is about a mile from TLF and Jael and I walk there every other day or so. The library is also about a mile away and we’ve walked there often. We usually walk at least two miles a day, sometimes more, depending on how many times we go out.
Friday, we took the shuttle bus to the Bitburg Annex (a military housing community that resembles a minimum security prison. You couldn’t pay us to live there. They have the large BX and Commissary and Food Court) and then walked into Bitburg City from the base. We probably walked about 3 miles or so before turning around. We had lunch at a pizza and sandwich shop. It was our first exchange out in the community and it was VERY scarey. Of course, I bungled my German terribly but we figured it out and had a totally adequate pizza and a not so great cup of weak espresso. We found a pedestrian mall and walked up it but all the stores were closed. This seemed odd to us as it was a Friday afternoon. But we enjoyed walking around even though it was a bit chilly. Jael played on a playground and on the way back we stopped at a backerei (the “a” needs to be an umlaut [that is with two dots above it] and then it means bakery) and had a cheesecakey type thing. It was very good and the lady behind the counter was amused by our attempts at German.
On the way home I saw a sign saying that Friday was “German Unity Day” so that explained why the shops were closed.
Yesterday, however, was Langser Samstag, or Long Saturday, when the stores are open until 1600 uhr, or 4 pm, instead of closing at 2. So we headed to Bitburg again and this time, the pedestrian mall was crawling with people and dogs and kids.
There were some interesting things we discovered. Number 1: German stores, at least the ones we visited today, are not handicapped accessible. We went into a store that had four floors and not an elevator or escalator in the building. Number 2: If your dog is well behaved, he is welcome in a store. Cool. Number 3: I have no idea what the German method of arranging clothes on a rack is. I was looking at winter coats, or Winterjacken, and there was no perceivable order. They were arranged by size in one store but in the large store, they were all willy nilly. Sort of by color but not completely. Definitely not by price as there were jackets for 30 Euros next to jackets for 199 Euros. EEK! Number 4: we will probably make the Backerei a regular stop. The person behind the counter was the same lady that had helped us on Friday. Israel ordered a Cappicino but wanted it to go. Unable to find “to go” as in “take out” in the dictionary, we found the words for “paper” and “cup” and Israel said, “Ein Cappicino, bitte, in ein papier Tasse.” (Diana, forgive my butchery and bad spelling!). To which the gal chuckled and said, “To go?” We laughed and said “Ja.” She then told us the German word for “to go” but we promptly forgot it. I think I will begin to carry a notebook with me and in such a situation with an understanding person, have them write it down for me so I can remember.
We bought Israel a winter coat and Jael a pair of tights. We found a stove top espresso machine (is it a machine if it has not moving parts? It’s like a coffee brewer only it makes espresso). The gal in that shop was Russian and was very friendly, speaking a bit of English with us, her English being better than our German. As we left Israel said, “Spasibo,” which is, of course, Russian for “Thank you.” She beamed at us and I think both parties were very pleased.
Upon returning to the base, as we trudged up the hill, we realized we were exhausted. Israel’s feet hurt, my legs hurt and little Jael trooped along beside us, complaining very little. She is such a trooper!
So there you have it. We went shopping in Germany and all in all, it went well. We had some ladies give Jael some candy. Some one in a Ronald McDonald suit was giving out candy and apparently, they were unable to avoid him so a block down the way, they found a nice kid to give them to. Lucky Jael! A chance to practice her “Danke.” The Russian lady at the kitchen store also gave Jael a sucker so the kid made out today!
We took the shuttle bus back home and crashed. I think we walked six to eight miles today. We were very tired and very cold. It was chilly and windy and Israel is the only one of us that has a winter coat, as of this afternoon. We are going to hit up the Airmen’s Attic for a coat for Jael. It’s just hard to spend 50 Euro or $75 on a coat she’ll wear one year. If we don’t find something this week, we’ll have to bite the bullet and get her one before it gets really cold. Same thing with me.
Well. I think that about covers it. We went shopping and spoke German with Germans and while I know we have lots of learning to do, this all feels so much like an adventure that I am just excited for the next challenge.