Monday, 10 October 2011

Rubber Ducks

The first week passed by. Doesn't feel like a whole week. May be it's because I was so busy with all kinds of stuff. There is so much to do in life, even without a job to sustain you. 
So what did I do. I started with my yearly medical check, which is still as bureaucratic as I remember. I had an interview with the local newspaper of my hometown which was great, since I could tell my story a bit more in detail. A lot of people here ask me of course how I liked it, but I don't know if they can possibly expect me saying "No!". I mean, why would I stay at a place voluntarily for one year if I did not like it? I pushed the "like-button" for SEED throughout my year and I am so full of stories, but most people are more than satisfied after the "Did you like it"question. 

Hm, well. It's really good to have fellow volunteers in Germany and so I already phoned some of them. Who else can I tell that I still feel a bit strange about the fact that there is no bloody steering wheel on the right side of the car. I mean on the Autobahn you can sometimes forget about the "we drive on the right side"rule in Germany since quite a lot Germans seem to have a phobia to drive right. (It is like you are a looser if you drive right... at least your car is looser if it is not able to drive fast enough to overtake any time). Well and I am still suspicious about the orange Emergency Phones every couple km. At a glimpse they look pretty much like the SA speed cameras. By the way speed. It's actually very nice to drive a bit faster than 120km/h :D

I had my first german meeting of the jap. archery club and it was ... interesting. It took more than 3 hours and at the end I was not really sure if it was due to my lack of german understanding or me being tired that I understood aprox. 30% of the meeting. Hey, it may sound weird but it's really hard to follow those Germans who speak in high speed and with very professional words. Kind of scary to have lost both languages in my little brain, English AND German. May be I should try the Japanese once more.

I go for the visual impressions. A very nice one was the local organic market. Gosh! How I missed these juicy and tasty veggies and the casual small talk at the different stalls. Bavarian is hilarious and this whole country is full of Bavarians. (as you coul already see at my welcome-party)
These old German cities with their old buildings do really have an appealing charm. So I spend a couple of hours wandering around Landshut, enjoying my first italian icecream and the mild autumn-sun (which is now gone. Shivering at 7°C and constant rain and even hail). 
I also like the rubber duck race on the Isar-river yesterday. May be we won a car? :D 

rubber ducks on their way down Isar river

Tourist Info and town-hall of Landshut

historic centre of Landshut... medieval design and the highes brick tower in the world

And one of my highlights this week was the postman handing over a parcel from India. It was covered in fabric an sewn! Checked by German customs. ^.^ My friend Johanna, the worldtraveller, works for Navdanya at the moment, a NGO dedicated to local seed saving in India. She sent me a book of her Boss and Right Livelihood Award Winner Vandana Shiva, Earth Democracy. Awesome! :D 
Even though it is tough for me that Johanna can't be here with me now, I am very proud of her courage to do what she thinks is right. Even if it is not a typical path. It will be a very special moment when we finally meet each other again. Thanks Johanna for being such a special person in my life. Everyone should have a Johanna. :)

The Indian parcel... and if anyone needs: my physical address

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

First steps in a "foreign" country

Today is my first day all on my own. Christoph went back to work after the long weekend. It was very kind of this year, that the 3rd October, a national holiday in Germany was this Monday. So Christoph and I had a bit more time for each other. But, as I said, today was my first day all on my own. The sun woke me up and I was a bit confused why it was moving in the wrong direction. It is still weird to move in this well equipped apartment. You need a scissor? Here it is! Need to do your laundry? Use the well functioning and easy-peasy self explaining washing machine. Want to check weather forecast quickly? Use the weather app on the IPad on the table. (The IPad serves several needs in this household now. It's cool, but it still makes me feel like I crashed into an alien society and not “just” into European reality.) Looking for a tea pot? Do you want the one for green or the one for black tea? But what is that! No Milk?! No way! How am I supposed to start a day without a proper tea with milk?

So I prepared myself for my first outing to the shop. My bike is kinda buggered and my attempt to fix it made it just worse, so I gave in for now. I think it is a better idea anyway to move slowly through the streets. So I grabbed one of the million ecofriendly cloth shopping bags in our kitchen and went on a familiar jet so new walk. After one year there are houses now where no houses have been before. Apples and Pears hang heavily on old crippled fruit trees, Asters are in full bloom, dead sure sign, it is autumn in Germany. Well it feels like summer still and so I can still wear my comfortable SA clothes.

I pass by shop windows and understand every single word. I guess one gets just used to the fact that you miss out a lot of information when moving in a country with a foreign language. But now I am surrounded by so many people who seem to be much better in German than I am. And they seem to love their language those Germans. They love puns and play with their own language in such intelligent ways that I am actually a bit stunned.

“Stunned” is also the word to describe me in the supermarket. I had to choose from 15 different kinds of tomatoes and the shattering sized display fridge filled with all different kinds of milk products reminds me, that German culture is actually a milk loving one. It takes me forever to choose the “right” milk and cheese (I guess 'cause I couldn't find the cheddar and the Fair Cape milk). I finally choose a “fair” milk that looks absolutely new and almost political to me and a fresh milk in a glass (!) bottle. Right! A reusable glass bottle! That's smart, eh? And hey, the Germans seem to have a new favourite sign on their groceries: “Ohne Gentechnik” (Without Genetic engineering) That sign is everywhere.

Milk: fair and without genetical engineering

An elderly woman passes by. She first checks out my appearance in my Avo-green alternative trousers and then what I have in my basket. She makes no attempt to hide her curiosity but seems too shy to also talk to me as I look in her blue eyes.

A quick glance at the wine display tells me very clear: This is not Spar or Pick 'n' Pay. Can't find my Live-a-Little-Wine. But really shocking is the tiny choice of chips. Seems like the Germans don't know what they miss out. No sweet chili Doritos, no salted Popcorn, no Biltong-flavoured chips, no Nik Naks. Eeesh.....
Well, when in Rome...

My Aunty Beates welcome present: All new products of Milka Chocolade

My body still struggles a bit with the new environment. Sounds may be strange but I have problems to breath properly every now and then. It is like my chest was tied. Have to force myself from time to time to take a deep breath and tell my box that everything is ok, just breath. Cultural shock? Panic attack? I don't know but it feels definitely a bit strange to move through this “new” world again. At least my body remembered perfectly how to shoot an arrow after one full year without practice. It's just the muscles that need a bit attention now.   

Bye 'n' Hi

Since arriving in Germany is somehow part of my experience in South Africa, I decided to continue my blog for a little while to document my first steps in my former and new home.

First some pictures from my farewell and welcome: 

Shaun the Chef

Many hands make light work

Ooops, cut my finger!

The one and only Perm stylist extraordinaire

Mr. P seemed to like his first Pizza from the Dragon

Theo and his Seedling

Theo jr.

Next Generation. All the best to you guys and have an AWESOME YEAR!!!

Add at the airport: Fake Bavarian Culture with Currywurst and Little Red Riding Hood
... and the real stuff :D

warm welcome at my parents house

With even more people and original Blasmusik.... I was totally overwhelmed