14 August 2009

Some Things I'll Miss and Some Things I've Learned

So, a sort of conclusionary post -- though this blog will continue, albiet with more of a southwestern PA/East Coast vibe, which is kind of good, because of course adventures can happen closer to home.  And this post will probably be updated over the next few days and weeks.

But let me start this way: the music I love listening to is Kandráč, Mačošková, et. al.  I was listening to it a bit on the plane and granted, I was mega PMSing, but really I couldn't listen to it without crying and yet I couldn't not listen to it as I was hurtling 400mph in the opposite direction of the music.
  1.  I'll be back, just hang in there, I definitely will be.
  2. Posts in the near future will be chronologically mixed up, which is the result of me having a stable connection for the first time since the last time I was in the US.  I still have some video to post from early June (!).
Leaving was too bittersweet.  I couldn't wait to see my parents (and the rest of my family who I've yet to see), but really, I absolutely don't want to leave, though I already have.  As if it was planned, I didn't even get a last look at the Tatras because the day was as overcast as my mood.  Vienna, which has always been a good place for me to transition between east and west, was lovely as always, even though it was a too-short visit. 

So.  Some things (among many) I'll miss:
  1. .5l (1 pint) of beer for less than €1.  €3.80 for a beer in Vienna was a bit of sticker shock, for inferior beer.  And not to bitch even more, but lots of American beer is so noticeably hoppy with such little nuance that it's disappointing.  Yes, I know I'm spoiled and snobby, but I'm also willing to discuss and back up my opinions.
  2. These bacon rolls to the left.  Fluffy dough, with bacon and cheese.  They were a bit overcooked when I took this pic, but perfect when I bought my last for the train trip today and subsequent breakfast.  Hypernova may be overpriced but this made it all so worth it.
  3. Public transportation and being able to walk to places.  Driving in suburban traffic is not fun.  And there's just so many people everywhere.  Where did they all come from?
  4. My crew.  In Prešov and Ružomberok.  This is the main thing.  I can live without the bacon rolls, but my crews were too excellent -- and it's always the people who make the place most special.

Some things I've learned to try to always have with me, especially on hikes:
  1. knife/multitool: for many things, namely cutting pork products and vegetables, but you never know anyway.
  2. fire starting mechanism: for creating cooked pork products in the wilderness, where the pork fat tastes even better than it does in 'civilization'.
  3. change of clothing: because it may start pouring and no one likes being soggy, though better yet, don't forget your really good, easily packable rain jacket in America -- bring it with you!
  4. small first aid kit: because you may cut yourself on irresponsibly abandoned beer bottles far away from the nearest village.
  5. wet wipes: more refreshing and less alchoholy than Purell and similar products.
  6. tissues in those plastic travel packs: good for blowing the nose and also good when there's blood everywhere.
  7. hand lotion: it's just nice to have when you want it.
  8. toothbrush and a clean t-shirt: you never know where you're going to sleep.

Two things I needed to buy within 24 hours of being back, thus proving that my routine has been modified a bit over the last year:
  1. slippers: not easy to find in the middle of August, but I can't do shoes in the house anymore.
  2. a drying rack: some of my new €urotrash wardrobe can't handle the dryer.  Plus air drying is so much nicer anyway, even though it necessitates ironing.  We'll see how long I can hold out.
Immediately, I realized that the biggest challenge is going to be to keep on a reasonable diet -- not diet in terms of losing weight, but diet in terms of eating well/right.  Because whereas before I didn't live within a 30 mile radius of a McDonald's, now fast food is everywhere, with hydrogenated oils beckoning me in an overwhelming cacophony.  And I want it, badly.  Tacos, for example. 

I can report mild culture shock and yet at the same time, an eerie comfort with my surroundings.  Eerie because it's comfort mixed with uncomfort, and culture shock mixed with expectations. Keeping up with my Slovak is a priority and at the same time having everything in English all of a sudden is strange, too.

Let's see how long this all lasts, shall we?

3 comments:

bill lagattuta said...

welcome back to the land of plenty.

pakurilecz said...

so does this mean you're back in the States for good? have you considered doing a flickr page of your Slovakia photos

Maria said...

Thanks, Bill - will e-mail soon and we can deconstruct what "land of plenty" means.

Peter - not "for good" but at the moment, I'd say "indefinitely." I've got tons more photos, which could lend themselves to flickr, but am working on some other projects where you'll be able to see many more of my photos very soon.