“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”Tim Cahill
The last week consisted of a lot of hammocking, more travelling, and a soccer tournament. Last weekend were the National Erasmus games, which were held in Ostrava this year. There were three events and I participated in the futsal (of course). I was nominated as captain and my team was wonderful group of people: Won (South Korea), Iiro (Finland), Lee (South Korea), Paulo (Portugal), and Ayaka (Japan). We have all played together over the past couple months every week when we play pick-up at the dorm.
When we were told about the event, we were told it was for fun, and everyone would be drinking beer and having a good time. So, we were relaxed and didn’t worry too much about being good. However, when we showed up on Saturday, it was clear the other teams were competitive and were not just there for fun. Long story short, we played against a lot of very intense people who did not share our laid-back mentality. That being said, we were still very competitive and had a lot of fun.
A bunch of my friends came to cheer me on, so I had a loud and wonderful cheering section. They made me laugh and I loved their support. On Sunday, many of them played in the volleyball tournament, so I went for the day to watch them. They played very well and it was so fun to watch. I want to start playing volleyball now.
On Monday I presented at Nation4Nation, an event put on by the ESN club. I got to share about the United States and Arizona. First, we played a game of Family Feud and I asked questions to see how much foreigners know about the United States. Then I did a twenty-minute presentation, most of which was about Arizona. I was able to share the beauty of my home state. I also made Navajo fry bread so everyone could try a food from Arizona. Everyone seemed very impressed by how amazing Arizona is and they enjoyed my food.
Throughout the week I spent most of my days relaxing in the park and planning more of my upcoming trips. Each day different friends came to join me and spent time in my hammock with me. Apparently Europeans don’t hammock often, and people are very intrigued by the hammock. One of my friends told me, “You look so American right now”, and another, after sitting in the hammock for the first time, “Oh my gosh! Americans know how to relax!” They all are hooked on it now and look forward to the days I go to the park so they can join. I’m so happy they have spent time with me doing one of my favorite things.
This past weekend, Gloria, Gesa, and I joined our friend Domi on a trip to her home village, Parnica, Slovakia. We reserved a camp trailer to stay in on the side of a lake. This turned out to be an interesting experience because the gas ran out multiple times, leaving us with no heat, no hot water, and an inability to cook. Since it was barely above freezing at night, it got quite chilly.
However, Slovakia was a lot of fun and we saw some beautiful things. On Saturday we took the bus to a neighboring village where we first visited a castle from the 1300’s. After touring there, we headed to a hiking trail which led us to the remains of another castle. This was very interesting because it has not been restored since it was built in the 1200’s and is high on a mountainside where it is not visited frequently. It was very authentic and beautiful. We then hiked about 4 more miles up to a cottage where we ate. It was not a terribly difficult hike, but challenged me some and provided good exercise along with nice scenery. We hiked back on another trail and headed back to our trailer.
On Sunday we took a small row boat provided by the trailer park out onto the lake. It was incredibly relaxing and beautiful. We went out in groups of two or three, and we laughed continuously while trying to row properly. I love the friends I have made here.
We then went for a short hike before going to the train station to return to Ostrava. We had a wonderful trip and I loved seeing Slovakia. Upon returning to my dorm, Saul and I were able to celebrate our anniversary to the best of our ability, by watching one of our favorite shows together over Skype. It’s days like this when I miss home the most, but I am grateful for technology and the time we do get to spend together.
I’m down to just four weeks left in Ostrava before I move on to see more of Europe. Time is flying by and I’m loving every second.