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September 10, 2006


"For some it is crazy. For others, normal." said the Berlin taxi driver after a huge drunk Russian chased our friend Bill in an unprovoked rage after he ducked into the cab and wrestled the door closed in a frantic tug of war while yelling "Go! Go! Go!!" and screeching away, narrowly missing being beaten to a pulp.

This relativistic view on life fascinates me. What "it" is depends on your perspective, which is defined by your unique set of past experiences.

For example, let's take a baseball game. If, in childhood you bonded with your father over hot dogs and cracker jacks at the ballpark, and later laughed and drank under the summer sun with friends at tailgate parties, you probably get the warm-and-fuzzy feeling, at the thought of the game. Without these experiences, you might find the game agonizingly slow and monotonous. Obviously if you are a professional ball player, you'd have an entirely different perspective on it. As would a mascot, greens keeper, talent scout or Tibetan who may have heard of the word but has no idea what it means.

So, for every "it", there are as many definitions as there are people whose perspective "it" must flow through to arrive at meaning.

So then, what is "it", really, if defined separately by each observer?

More thoughts to come as I have time to explore

September 7, 2006

Increased Incentive

The language barrier at first was not that noticeable. Having started in Montreal, we were fine, we both speak Canadian. :)

Next stop: Austria. I do not speak any German, with the exception of the usual exchange of pleasantries which seemed to be all that I really needed to know. This being because Paul can get by with what he remembers from visiting as a child and we were almost always with family who speak English beautifully saving me from only being able to tell them thank you and good night. In addition, people spoke some English and if not there was almost always someone who could help translate.

In Germany, there was much of the same with regards to the language and every night we hung out with Paul's old co-workers where of course the conversation could flow freely.

Having arrived in Barcelona 2 days ago, it became very clear almost immediately that the language barrier had just increased exponentially. I expect much of the same, if not more, in the near future as we head on to South America.

This was quite a shock to me as I wrongly assumed that since Barcelona is such a large city and a tourist attraction, we would be able to squeak by for a little while longer. So far in almost every restaurant or shop that we have been in the older generations speak absolutely no English and the younger ones may speak a little. It hasn't been a problem, just very little outside communication taking place.

Last night I was given a new incentive to learn to speak Spanish with a greater sense of urgency. It was around 10pm, people filled the restaurants, cafes and the streets enjoying their usual late nightlife that is common in Europe. Paul and I were sitting on a curb trying to use his new phone and enjoying some people watching. In the middle of the square there was a beautiful Catalunian little boy who must have been around 3 years old. He was exploring every little inch of the area running as fast as his little legs could take him. When he was tired he would sit for a moment on the grass, on a statue, in the middle of the square.... Much to my surprise he had decided that right next to me was a great place to rest. We sat hip to hip, and he looked up at me and started to have a conversation. I of course could not understand one single word; he spoke so quickly and without any enunciation. Moments later he would take off again like a bolt of lightning and then return to sit beside me to chat some more.

I do not know his name, or anything about this little boy. This little boy will also never know my name or the fact that he has given me a stronger desire to learn a new language so that the next time the opportunity arises, I will be able to learn about those around me and share a bit of ourselves.

September 3, 2006

No normal schedule

Hello All!!

I miss touching base with everyone, I have been searching for a time that is free to share a little with you all of what's going on. Since it's been quite a while since being able to email, this is a little long, you may want to tackle it in small doses, or at least grab a tea.

We had a wonderful time in Linz and Vienna. We spent a ton of time with Paul's family which was lovely. The train ride to Berlin was awesome, 9.5hours of a peaceful ride through the countryside. The first half of it was heavenly the train was clean, quite luxurious as far as trains go and mostly empty. The second half we had to switch to another train which would not be described that way at all. I sat beside a wheezĂ­ng old guy, my other option was to sit beside a very large guy, you know the kind, the guy who infringes on your space, and the train smelt of smoke. But at least we arrived well rested to begin the socialization party with Paul's old co-workers.

We were greeted so warmly by all. It's really nice to see Paul interact with everyone.

When we arrived in Berlin, unfortunately Paul accidentally left his brand new cell phone in the cab. He realized it 30 seconds after the cab drove away. We tried to call the company, but we didn't know which company it was, all the cabs are beige colored. We didn't get a receipt....sadly someone is now the proud owner of a fancy cell phone. Quite honestly I think a part of Paul's subconscious might have done this purposely :) I mean come on, you do the math. We come to one of the largest; if not possibly the largest trade shows which is filled with all the latest and greatest gadgets and toys. For Paul it's like being in a candy store. So the next day we went to the trade show and Paul figured out which Christmas gift he would get early this year. We found out where we could go buy one, and the hunt began.

That night we met everyone at a bar exchanged stories with all and got to catch up. Berlin is infamous for its night life. So by 2am people were still going strong. Paul and I decided to head back to the hotel. We were having a nice time, but just didn't feel quite right in our skin. After going for a little walk to figure out what was up we came to the very important realization that we were both still very wound up from the entire experience of the last few months. After such an intense amount of constant time pressured tasks to be completed, we really needed to let go and take deep breaths, and many of them. While Linz and Vienna gave us some free time to ourselves, it was not much and the time pressure was still present.

We always had to look at our watches and constantly plan our day around other engagements. We were still on other's schedules of when they wake up, when they eat their meals..... I don't mean to sound ungrateful; everyone has been more than kind in opening their homes to us. It just makes for a continued rushed sensation and doesn't let you take the deep breaths.
Normally this would never effect us in such a drastic way, it was just because of the last few months and still being very wound up. All that to say, Paul and I wanted to stay and hang out with everyone, but decided that it was more important to listen to our bodies and head back to enjoy a little of our own time.

At Thomas's wedding, Paul re-united with a guy he met when he was 12 years old and visiting Linz. It was one of Thomas's closest friends who had since moved to Berlin, Sven. We exchanged numbers and made plans to meet up in Berlin. Again, Berlin having the reputation of a nightlife that is unlike any other place. Sven wanted to take us to the craziest of clubs for the "true Berlin experience". It's called the Kit Kat Club. Sven explained how we should dress, but given that our wardrobes are quite limited and that even if we had all of our clothing accessible, there is nothing like this in either of our closets. We did the best we could. Thank goodness Sven knew the owner because there is no way we would have gotten in otherwise.

Let me explain the club a little and you'll get the picture.

I guess if I had to describe it, I would call it a fetish bar. People were dressed in the craziest costumes of leather with many parts missing where you and I would probably want to have covered, and many didn't even bother with the costume, they just took their clothes off. There was much observing going on. We finally got some sleep at around noon this afternoon; I slept for a solid 5hours woke up because my stomach was grumbling so loudly, no surprise there. I felt and looked like a train had hit me straight on, so we slowly made our way to food then back to bed. I woke again just now, at 8pm and feel like a vampire having not really seen the light of day. All part of the experience.....which I am way too old for, or at least I feel that way right now :)

Paul and Bill are still sleeping.

I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend.

Love Joanne & Paul (when he wakes up!)