Monday, June 20, 2011

Yet Another New World

Saturday, 19 June 2011... I think!

(aka... another glimpse into the life of transitions that I'm embarking on once again... I appreciate any prayers you might lift up on my behalf!  Hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts... :))

Well, I’m officially into my third country – and second continent – of this two month adventure God has set me on.  After finishing school at HOPAC at 11am yesterday, I turned in my keys, printed off train and plane tickets, and set out for the airport with Carley and Marie.  After many adventures and three cars later, we finally made it to our intended destination.  I said yet another set of “see ya laters” as Carley left to head back home, and Marie headed off to Minnesota to surprise her dad on Father’s Day.  I stayed at the airport for another several hours and got to spend some great time with a family from school that I’ve never really known before, but who welcomed me in with open arms.

After a quick stop in Nairobi (ok, I guess I’m in my fourth country), we took off for the great country of Switzerland.  At least, I’ve always wanted to go there, I love mountains, and it seems like a great place.  They were efficient, had a great airport, and had a blueberry muffin waiting for me at Starbucks when I got off the plane.  (Granted, it’s probably the most expensive muffin I’ve ever bought… but… BLUEBERRIES!!!  Kind of a big deal for anyone after living in Dar for two years.) 
After remembering how to use a credit card, slowly but surely figuring out the train schedule and system, and having a flashback to Narnia (think sitting on a bench with trains whizzing by in front and behind me…) and wondering if I’d be ending up in Germany or fighting alongside Aslan and a variety of talking animals… I jumped onto the appropriate train with my now-overweight bag, backpack, and guitar, and settled in to listen to the names of stops so I wouldn’t go too far. 
Evidently, God planned for me to make it to Germany.  This time! :)
Or maybe this is still in Switzerland?  I really can't remember!
I’m still trying to get over the fact that we just went across a border without showing passports, and that they never even checked my train ticket till the last stop (what would they have done if I didn’t have a ticket?  Send me back?)  But that was minimal compared to the transitions that I found ahead.

First stop after getting picked up by someone from the school where I’ll be studying was going to the bank.  In Tanzania, the largest bill available is 10,000Tsh (or about $7.00).  That means if you get money out in large quantities, you get a LOT of bills!  Here, I punched in the desired amount into the ATM machine, and got… 8 bills back.  EIGHT!  I had to check for a minute before I realized that they have such things as 100 euro bills… and I wasn’t missing anything.  From there we went to the grocery store, which was another shock to my system.  Somehow I hadn’t prepared myself for encountering civilization in Germany… I had only expected real grocery stores with fruits and boxed cereals and such in the States.  But as it turns out, such things are available in Europe as well.  Who would have thought. :)

Thankfully I had someone along who spoke enough German to get us by, and who could point me towards sandwich meat (ham!), cheese (swiss! For cheap!!!), and real, fresh cherries.  No water, since evidently you can drink out of the faucet here.  And juice, of course.  After learning that you put items in your own bag before checking out (isn’t that considered stealing?), I paid my 20 Euros and left with a bundle of groceries. 
A couple of things I’m adjusting to.  Cold weather.  Driving a stick shift car.  On the right side of the road.  Windows that open three different ways.  Flowers, EVERYWHERE!  Huge storks with a nest on a nearby building from the apartment where I’m staying (evidently there's a farm or something in the tiny town where I'm staying).  Not washing everything with soap before eating it, and not having to make sure every cherry is dry before consumption.  Clean water from the faucet, what?  A washer and dryer, hot water… and a bath tub!  Seriously!  The luxuries here are unfathomable.  AND… finding a bag of Crispy M&Ms (the kind that really DO melt in your hand!) on the shelf of the grocery and slowly but surely eating one at a time, treasuring each one and trying to remember there are probably going to be more there available to buy next time I go.  Good thing there are amazing berries to curb my appetite, or my chocolate intake might be rapidly increasing in the next few weeks!

Auf wiedersehen!

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