June 29, 2003

Visiting the Family

We had a good evening talking with Ulrike and hildegard after dinner. We drank some kind of fizzy girly sweet wine and ate this pre packaged snack mix with chips and peanuts and pretzels and such. In germany a pretzel is called brezel (similar, due to the deutch origin) but he junk food pretzel sticks we eat are called ´salt sticks´

hallo frummin deutchlund!

Well we have mostly been doing family things lately, the main point of this trip was to visit jane´s family, so I do not have a lot of cycling news. It was great to read about the 1000 wheels Critical Mass yesterday. 800 people, 1600 wheels! wow. We wish we were there for that.

Last time we wrote was for wednesday night, I must try to remember back to then... not so easy since Reinhold got me 3 large beers.

On Thursday we also went to Oma und Opa for the Murgen-Tagen (or some crazy german word like that) which is lunch, the mid day meal, and is traditionally the biggest meal of the day. We had noodles and potato salad and some other things. We had also a vegetarian sauce for Jane and a meat sauce also. we did not stay to long this time because we did not want to exhaust Oma und Opa who normally have a nap after lunch. we, too, were also tired at this point and though we had planned to go go for a swim we ended up staying home and resting, the jet lag finally caught up. That night we had another dinner prepared by heildegard (the german culture is more sexist and the women seem to do all the kitchen work while the men find something else to do, something which I felt bad about but it was hard for me to want to get up and help work, especially not knowing the language and being a guest) which is the meal they often eat: cold cuts of meat, usually sausage (wurst), cheese, bread, some cucumber, and shprudel (fizzzy water, often with concentrated fruit juice for mixing)

We had a good evening talking with Ulrike and hildegard after dinner. We drank some kind of fizzy girly sweet wine and ate this pre packaged snack mix with chips and peanuts and pretzels and such. In germany a pretzel is called brezel (similar, due to the deutch origin) but he junk food pretzel sticks we eat are called ´salt sticks´ (except translated literally). Also they have these things which look like cheezies except taste like peanut. Ulrike showed us photos of her pathfinders group camps and told us about that. We told her how our anonymous friend build a secret cabin in the woods. She told us about a similar venture, except that 200 people helped build it and they had the cities permission. We could see in the photos how the pathfinders convention was very big. They have tent which they erect in a farmers field except they are large bulky old fashioned canvas tents. the cool part is they join the tents together to make a gigantic tent or also for making a 25m tall entrance doorway to the large camp convergance (of 5000 pathfinders). It doesn´t rain so much here so normally these kinds of tents suffice.

Anyway, the next day, friday, we did not go for lunch with oma and Opa. We got up early and drove in a car with Ulrike on a mission to find camping gas for our stove and fly trap paper for Oma and Opa because they needed some. We went to three stores by car. They were all the new Zellers type big box crappy american low price shlog stores. It was depressing to drive around like americans and support the american colonisation here in this much better area of small villages. It was also interesting to see the differances in products and prices. In one of these kmart type store there were bike parts. Not just any bike parks but cranksets and derailluers and stem and everything, The whole shimano line up to Deore! Anyway we could not find any white gas type fuel for our whisperlite ´international´ MEC stove. We ended up deciding to put auto gas in it as the allow on the instuctions. The instuctions say the stove also accepts Jet fuel! In germany all the fuels are called by different names: regular car gas petrol is called Benzine, Alcohol for burning not drinking is called Spiritus, Jet fuel is Kerosine, Lantern fuel is called petroleum! Having different names would be OK. Deciding to switch the names around so one thing has the other´s name is totally stupid. Who designed these languages?! Anyway we had some food at a bekery with ulrike and sat by the river which was nice before we went home. We did find flypaper.

Then we went on a bike ride to find these infamous lakes and go for a swim, it is still hot weather. I discovered that my tire is damaged and bulging dangerously, I must fix it.

Gerhardt gave us a topographical map which also shows the all the tiny roads. Here in Germany privat property is not so thoughroughly entrenched and there is not fences everywhere. The access roads for the farmers fields are pretty much public. these are called the fieldveg or field-way. Most bike paths seem to be created using the fieldveg. The Fieldveg are ancient really and it is like riding on the road network that was there before the car. Most of the fieldveg are not paved, just two tire grooves in the grass, no name system for them. The map proved very useful. We made our way to Obreginsberg which is the neighbouring town and went to the water hole that Hildegard had pointed out to us. It was empty so we decided to swim naked. I forgot my swimsuit. I would prefer to swim naked and since it is Europe we thought it would not be a problem but I wanted to bring my swimsuit and decide later - anyway i didn´t have it so the decision was made easier. they have a small area of this lake (pond really, only about 50m by 100m) for children and underwater it is paved with concrete to be only about about 2 feet deep. This area is about 12m x 12m and is enclosed by a wooden rail in the water. The concret is very old so the ground is slippery with mud and plants. It was strange to have a designated shallow end in a lake, this is a much older place than Canada. They seem to be scared of deep water a lot over here. This is strange to me because I was a lifeguard as a teenager and taught that you can drown in a bathtub, the fear of depth is the irrational fear or non-swimmers. Anyway we swam around the lake. It was very green with algae but still refreshing. Some children came on bicycles after a little while and seemed to be aprehensive of us outlanders swimmin naked. The got in the water only after we got out. It was good to see children safely having fun but not being supervised.

We saw interesting fish (fiche) in this pond also. There were many tiny fish eating bugs but we could see large dark shapes of fish about half a meter long swimming in the pond. the crazy part was that the big fish would all swim together, parallel, in a line of 8. I have seen schools of fish before but never a formation. It must have been a very deep pond to support such large fish, we could feel the water very cold at our feet in the relatively still water and assumed it was deep when we swam also.

Then we made our way back on our bikes towards Dorruinzimmons. We used the old (1975) map and it turned out to be very useful an accurate. All of the fieldvegs and groups of trees marked on the map were accurate though sometimes the emphasis was wrong - that is a few of the busy road from the map were now overgrown while minor roads wer often more well kept. We saw a lot of wheat and clover and we saw the farmers in their enourmous combine harvester (made by the american John Deer company for some reason) driving. The farmers did not mind our presense at all which was surprising but nice. we also found these strange tall wooden towers. brian would like them very much. The towers are made of raw logs about 5 inches diameter cut in half. It is a little hut with a roof and a seat and small openings for windows built about 5m high in the air on stilts. The room is tiny. There is a sturdy log built ladder up to them. We sat in a few of them. The towers were all over the place, about half a kilometer apart, usually stationed on the edge of the woods and fields. We found out later these are spots where hunters sit and wait for wild boars. Also they hunt some deer and jack rabbit hares. We took a very convoluted and fun route through the fieldveg back home. Near durenzimmon we came across a lonely cherry tree which had tons of perfectly ripe cherries, it was obviously not part of any orchird or farmed area so we stopped and ate. We ate and ate, kirch schmeck goodt (cherries taste good) These ones were also wild but much larger than the ones we ate before. After we were pretty full we filled a bag with kirche to bring for Oma und Opa. Jane decided I should give it and I memorised the lines ´´do you want some cherries´´ but since then I´ve already forgotten the deutch. We gave them to Oma und Opa and put up the flypaper then went home. They had so many flies that they had caught 6 in the traps already before we left. There was a sudden rainstorm when we were at Oma and opa´s which was very hard but decreased to a slight drizzle within 10 minutes.

We had another dinner with hildergard then we said we were going for a walk and then instead went to the Beirbrau (pub) in durrenzimmons. The pub was empty when we went in quietly (about 7pm) and we called hello then went back outside. It was kind of raining so we pressed the doorbell and a dog barked for a while and eventually a women came and let us in. It was strange such a unpopular isolated bar but the woman was friendly. The Man´s name was Walter....

Posted by rusl at June 29, 2003 11:53 PM

hey,you'all!i'm happy that your trip is proving to be quite interesting!i definitely appreciate thecompare/contrst between our cultures;it seems that land use policies there are at least a little more humane than ours.you already heard about the HUGE 'n WONDERFUL c-mass;the rocky dino opera last night was greatly evolved from last year and really swings!we'll keep vancouver warm for you 'till you get back!keep up on the beer and conversation.miss you both!yours.

Posted by: barnett on June 30, 2003 02:29 AM

Reading you in Zanzibar at an Internet place ($1 hr). Enjoyed your account, children, but you really should wear bathing suits! And not scare the poor little kindren!
Today we took a small boat to an island off Zanzibar _ a white sandy beach and did some snorkling and saw some giant tortoises to whom we fed spinich
The punctuation marks aren't working on this machine at the moment. Not sure why. Weather here is hot, according to Ros, but just right according to Neale. Ros got stomach upset two nights ago, threw up and all that yucky stuff, but is better now.
Mum & Dad (with Naomi and Moodie, who aren't here at the moment but have gone off to the film festival, which is going on at Zanzibar these days. Often Naomi says, don't you wish Russell were here!)
xo again and that's all unless Ros tells me to write more.

Posted by: Father on July 5, 2003 06:40 PM
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