On Monday, I went for a walk, as I normally do on Mondays after lunch, and I was so glad I brought along my camera -- because I was able to enjoy and then capture some amazingly beautiful details:
(click through to the website to see these pics if you're reading this via e-mail)I love the palette -- I don't think I'd paint any living spaces in these colors, but I can most definitely live with them for the season. And while I'm at it, a shoutout to Leonardo da Pisa, detto Fibonacci -- for the enduringly amazing Fibonacci Sequence so often visible in nature (and elsewhere).
But in the Western World, we are (subconsciously) into the idea of the Best General View -- so here's one:
The hill is called Kalvária (see the Stations on the right), and the photo is looking towards the east -- so the mountains in the very background distance are the westernmost of the High Tatras. Right in the middle is the paper factory and the river Váh.
Finally, in the middle of everything back in town, there's the Hlinka Mausoleum (under the Slovak double cross):
But actually his body isn't even there, because it disappeared sometime during the war. I'm totally interested in this part of Ružomberok-related history, because even after asking multiple people, I've yet to get a satisfactory answer. Hlinka's party became Tiso's party, and Tiso was (in my opinion, but not in the opinion of most Slovaks I've asked) a fascist, because of his collaboration with the Nazis during the war. The Slovak historiography seems to be that they were just doing what they could to make Slovakia independent (i.e. not Czech+Slovakia) but I don't see how a puppet state is independent at all... However, even though I think Tiso was pretty fascist, I also really think that Hlinka's popularity and memory was grossly misused after his death (cf. the Hlinka Guard) so maybe he (Hlinka) wasn't all that bad but Tiso was. But the really interesting part of all of this is that when I ask people about this period of history, the answer 90% of the time is, "We don't know, and we'll never know." An entire generation of people here were taught history at a time when it was being rewritten, and I think 20 years later things are still being sorted out.
Speaking of things still being sorted out after the fact, nearly 100 years after the independence of Slovakia from Hungary, there's still big-time, major anti-Hungarian sentiment here -- which the Hungarians tend to be highly mutual about. Last Sunday, the Slovaks and Hungarians played a (friendly) football match which turned deadly due to the presence of right-wing Hungarian football hooligans. After being subdued by the Slovak police, another crazy scary right-wing group started burning Slovak flags in front of the Slovak embassy in Bratislava -- they've been protesting since Sunday. I actually heard about this crazy scary right-wing group (Magyar Gárda) on Deutsche Welle's Inside Europe podcast -- and made the connection, which the TV news confirmed. The crazy scary thing about them is that their beginnings sound eerily similar to the Nazi party, right down to the disenfranchized, xenophobic, country-dwelling, young males. All of this makes me quite sad to see. When will we (humans) learn?
So yesterday on the news, in order for Slovakia to get back at Hungary for everything, they do a puff piece about the quality of Hungarian bread -- which is oft bought in Slovakia. It was unbelievable how un-newsworthy the subject was, especially because the people they found to talk about it tended to complement the quality of the bread anyway. And along the lines of further un-newsworthyness, last week there was a story of Czechs finding unexploded grenades around Dukla -- what can we expect? The stupid thing about it was that they take them and sell them at flea markets, and that is really stupid.
But not stupid is one Martinka Bobáňová from Terchová, also the birthplace of Jánošík. She's quite the little star of Slovensko Má Talent, and here are some supercute videos (especially the last one on the page -- it's chronologically the first and the best). She sings and plays the accordion and dances and I hope wins the entire thing. When they asked her what she'd do with 3million SKK (about $125,000), she said, "I've got lots of Barbie dolls, but they are homeless!" Supercute and totally worth a watch.
This morning at 6am, my mom woke me up with some great news. When I walked into the zborovňa, I got congratualations from all of my colleagues. By voting, we make the country we want to live in, we made a huge wonderful change and I believe we can do so much more together. I'm so excited to see how things work out, and I want to be part of it. Yes we can! -- I know people are saying Yes we did! which is true -- but as the Italians say, la lotta continua.
So alas, I started this post out all nice and then it rather turned into a beast. But that's how my mind kind of works.