Sunday, April 30, 2006

Deutsche Auto Stop

April 30, 2006
"Watch out that no one deceives you," Matt. 24:4, would have summarized the morning perfectly. Emily and I had been desperately trying to find D8. Everyone we asked gave us a little different directions than the guy before. Each one seemed competent and sincere about their directions. Each one was kind and ready to lend a hand but in the end only one was completely correct.

D8 also known as E55 or to Emily and I: the road to Dresden, Germany. This road was our manifest destiny. This road would be the being of a grand and adventurous journey. The only problem was that we first had to locate it. This would seem pretty simple for two highly skilled and trained English teachers. But like I said earlier, no one could give us consistent directions. After asking half a dozen people and wandering around in the rain for two hours, we finally approached the coveted D8 on the out skirts of Prague.

After getting our feet wet both figuratively and physically and snacking on some Dobry Rano's, we had our first pickup. Unfortunately when the man went to remove all of his possessions from the front seat, Emily spotted a knife under some of his papers. Now that's a bad deal! Ambition before safety, as desirable a ride to Dresden was, we decided to turn down the offer.

After reevaluating our strategy, we decided to relocate. We positioned ourselves along the onramp. By this time the sky had cleared up and the sun was shining. Things were looking up. The only thing we needed now was a ride. And as luck would have it, a mini van pulled over and offered to take us to Decin, Czech Republic. It was a couple, with their baby boy, Benedict, and family dog. Perfect, with almost no hesitation, we jumped in despite the fact that it wasn't Dresden. But hey, at least we were going in the right direction. Emily immediately struck up conversation, which would last for the entire trip. That is with the exception of the occasional interruption from Benedict hitting Emily.

When we arrived in Decin, they dropped us off at the train station, after looking up the train schedule and wishing us a safe trip. Decin was an unexpected surprise. The town was built in a valley along the riverbanks of the Elbe. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom and the dandy lions were popping up through the dark shades of grass. Taking advantage of the beautiful scenery, we followed a trail through a forest. We discovered an old abandoned Communist era swimming pool with a diving tower. Now of course it had to have a fence around it, to make it worthy of a visit. So after assessing the premises and planning an escape route we entered through a hole in the fence. We goofed around the pool and took some entertaining pictures.

By this time we were both hungry. It didn't take us long to find the local potraviny. We bought the basic necessities chleba, tomatoes, syrem, and susenka. We then headed down to the river for lunch. We cut the bread and tomatoes with my Swiss Army pocketknife. When we had finished eating, it was time to continue our journey. We headed down to the train station to catch the local train to Dresden, since we figured our chances of being picked up in Decin were slim.

After boarding the train in Decin, it didn't take long to get to the German boarder. At the boarder the train came to a complete halt. After sitting in our compartment for 15 minutes we asked the conductor if we were supposed to change trains. When we found out that we needed to switch trains we rushed across the tracks to catch our connection. When we reached the other side there was no train in sight. Some elderly Germans told us that we still had 15 minutes.

While waiting, a couple asked us if they could look at our map, so of course we said yes. The man spoke very good finish English; while the girl could barley speak any. They were very friendly making it easy to start a conversation. When the train arrived we decided to sit with them. As our conversation progressed, we discovered that they were Adventist, too! Excited about this new revelation, Martin and Marketa invited us to join them in touring Dresden. When we arrived at Dresden Hauptbahnhof, we took them up on their offer.

Dresden was over flowing with excitement. There was a concert outside the station. People were relaxing in front of the water fountains. Children were running around with balloons. There was a carnival with a merry-go-round. Women were selling fresh baked goods. Everything was clean, something that isn't so common in Prague. But what was even more surprising was the lack of homeless people. All of this seemed to contradict their sad history. Dresden was bombed heavily at end of the war by the Allies killing thousands of civilians.
When we got to the river walk it was time for us to peace out. We thanked our new friends and wished them safe travels. But before getting back to business, we stopped at Pizza Hut. It felt like we were back at home. Even though we paid six Euros for a pitcher of Sprite, since unlike America water isn't free!

After finding the route to Prague. Emily and I had formed a routine. She would hold the sign above her head, jump three times, while simultaneously I am waving my hands and pointing to the sign. Traffic would usually come in cycles, giving us a break, now and then. People really got a kick out of the whole performance. We were making a lot of people smile, but no one wanted to pick us up. After praying about the situation and still no luck we decided that we should try to catch the train back to Prague.

By the time we had reached the station, the sun had set. This was really our only option now. But to our surprise we had missed the last train by 15 minutes. We were stranded! There was nothing we could do so we found a hostel for the night. Sounds pretty simple but in reality it wasn't. Everyone was expecting us back and we had no way of contacting them. Hitchhiking is strongly prohibited by Eva, as I would find out later. And if our fellow SMs were worried about us they would call Eva. Luckily, the hostel we were staying at had Internet access. After e-mailing everyone (Eva not included), we could only hope that one of them would get our e-mail before it was too late. We were exhausted, by this time. So after reviewing the day's events, sharing a short worship thought and praying we went to bed.

May 1, 2006

7:30 came bright and early. But there wasn't much we had to do to get ready. We just had to put our shoes on and pick up our bags. That morning we had received an e-mail from Devann confirming that they had got our e-mail. This relieved a lot of stress for the both of us. We were ready to go after eating breakfast at the hostel.

The morning looked promising. Holding our new sign "CZECH REP," we were getting back into our old routine. We were filled with anticipation and hope. However, after an hour we started to doubt. Thoughts of "well it isn't too late to catch the train" filled our minds. We decided to give it a little more time. Just when we were about to give up, a car pulled over and offered to take us to a small village near the Czech boarder. After making sure he met our high standards, we jump into the car.

When we got to the village, it was in the middle of nowhere and there most certainly were no railway stations or bus stops. We were now completely committed to the cause; there was no turning back. After waiting at the gas station for 30 minutes, we were picked up again. This was our big break; they were on their way to Slovakia via Prague. With only a minor hold up at the boarder crossing due to our American passports, the rest of the trip was a piece of susenka.

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