And now it’s just the four of us: Zach, Josh, Tim, and I.
Saying goodbye to the choir was tough. I was going through so many emotions—thankfulness for the friendships, fear of the future, and homesickness. All I wanted to do was buy a ticket and come home where I can see my family, my girlfriend, my dog, sleep in my own bed (or at least my own country), get free refills at restaurants, and not have to pay for the bathroom anymore. It was so hard to let them leave without me.
But I stayed, which I wasn’t so happy about in the beginning.
We were picked up by Elke, a family friend of Josh’s who was kind enough to open her home for us in Pfortzeim. Pfortzeim is a somewhat-new town right outside the black forest. It was completely demolished in WWII and rebuilt quilkly, so a lot of the buildings are not too impressive. Still, it’s a very nice town.
The five of us really didn’t know what to do that day, and we spent a long time trying to figure it out. And then at one point Elke said, “We could go to France. It ‘s only about an hour from here.” Of course we said yes. So we drove to a city in France called Strausburg. It was a cute little city.
We stopped to have some espresso with Elke.
There was a nice cathedral, and it was at this cathedral that I realized that I’m already quite sick of cathedrals.
One of the things that really did stick out in this elaborate building was that, at every candle-lighting place, every prayerful kneeling station, every saint statue, and every confessional there was a small box for donations. Once I realized this, I couldn’t help but feel dirty. There’s no way that this can be called a church of God. This made me incredibly sad, and I had to leave before I got the urge to flip over any tables.
New subject, something more positive.
Once at Elke’s house, we met her family. Titzian, her 10 year-old son who tried so hard to communicate with us, but knew only the simplest English. He pretty much knew as much English as I know Spanish…enough to sort of get by, and little enough to be proud to say, “A piece of bread,” at the dinner table.
Lea was their daughter. I think she was 14 or so. She was shy and knew a pretty good amount of English, which she refused to share with us. Still, she laughed at our jokes and soon opened up to us enough to let herself go and be silly with the rest of us.
And then there was Elke’s partner, Carmen. She knew very little English, maybe even less than Titzian, and she was noticeably stressed about it in the beginning. There was something in her wary smile that made me fall in love with her and try to make her comfortable with us. We all joked around, and when we started talking about music she brightened up. Apparently she loves all the bands I do, and she would run back and forth to their CD player to show me bands I didn’t know. She even started dancing to some of the songs.
I also became acquainted with one of their cats.
When they found out that I brought my travel guitar, they immediately made me get it out. I played some songs that I thought they might know, and we stayed up late into the night requesting and playing songs. By the end of it, Carmen said in her cautious, broken English, “Your voice looks like an angel.” That meant the world to me.
The next day we took a nice trip to the Black Forest, which I’m sure a lot of you have heard about. It’s really just a big forest, and the reason it’s called black is because, from a distance the trees look really dark. La de da, a big forest.
We found some fun things to do, though. We went on a nice hike to see Germany’s Longest Waterfall, which was beautiful and made totally worth it when the guys and I hiked off the beaten trail to get a closer look. I could have stayed there all day.
This picture is looking down, by the way.
After that, we went on yet another Alpine sled. I’m pretty sure that’s one of the coolest things one can do.
Oh wait. I have one cooler.
We also went on a high ropes course in the Black Forest! I love stuff like this: suspended over a hundred feet in the air, walking on wires between trees and being attached only by two karabiners. This was a monstrous ropes course with five levels of difficulty. We had about two hours there, so we decided to go on levels four and five—the most difficult. It was so exhilarating and terrifying and wonderful I could not contain my excitement.
We were quite hungry when we were finished with the course, so we went to a little café. The food was delicious, but the experience was made actually quite horrible by the music that was playing. It wasn’t necessarily polka; it was more happy traditional German songs recorded on a cheap keyboard. What made it worse was that there were only about four songs on repeat. It sucked. At least the food was good.
After this we went home to Elke’s house, where we had a nice cookout. I hung out with the kids a lot and they tried to teach me some German. They taught me the phrase “Ich heisse Brian,” which means, “My name is Brian.” During my attempt to say everything correctly, I said, “Ich scheisse Brian,” and scheisse is the German equivalent to shit. We laughed about that one for awhile.
Somewhere in our conversation, they started talking about Strauss, which is Emu—a common bird that they eat in Germany. And then I realized that in my first homestay in Bad Hamburg, I continued to call my hostdad whose name in Klauss, strauss. So I called him and Emu for most of my stay. How embarrassing.
I don’t know how I’ve become so blessed to meet such wonderful people. Each one of my hosts have changed me in a significant way and caused me to praise God all the more. God does good work with people; I am continuously impressed by that.
Hope all is well in the Fifty Nifty. J
BEAUTIFUL OLD PEOPLE!!