puchov(Vsetín, Zlinsky Kraj, Česká republika)- Over the weekend I, the Mintons and Susan paid a visit our neighboring country, Slovakia specifically to the town of Púchov. Nice small little town. It was the first time I had traveled outside of the Czech Republic since I got here in August. They were having a pre-Easter Spring festival in the town rectangle-ovalish thing. You really can’t call it a town square because it isn’t. I don’t know what the shape is called. It’s been years since I had geometry so don’t go there, ok? I was told to look for the fountain in the middle. It was supposed to be ground level with jets shooting water every now and then. I asked someone where it was and he looked down. Apparently I was in the middle of it. It had been turned off for the festival. The whole gathering place had booths like at a fair selling this and that. No crowns accepted, Euros only. Short history lesson, free of charge follows. In spite of what MSNBC says with their map of Eastern Europe, Czechoslovakia no longer exists. The Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic became separate countries on the first of January 1993. The Slovak Republic opted to use the Euro and the Czech Republic stuck with the crown. So we have two relatively new, but ancient countries next to each other. Since there was a separate state of Slovakia before and during WWII that sided with Germany (became a client state of Germany) before  the two countries (Czech and Slovak) joined together in 1945, they never really signed a peace treaty with the allies…so as I understand it, we are still technically at war. While in Púchov, then, I took several citizens and held them as POW’s doing my civic duty but let them go out of compassion and they were bigger than me. Oh and yeah, there’s no ocean in Slovakia either. I guess I have to travel to the Black Sea (not really an ocean but hella big) through Ukraine…no wait…I’ll wait until I see my own Pacific Ocean in June no need to disturb the countryside. I know they’re busy entertaining people next door to them.

Returning to Vsetín in the afternoon we were greeted by a train display. Old and new trains were on the unused tracks at the station and anyone could climb aboard and walk through them. The steam engine that took Susan and me from Valasske Klobouky back to Vestín around Christmas time was there taking kids and adults on a short trip down the tracks. I am, what you call, a train nerd. I love to watch them and secretly would like to drive one.

I had my stitches removed from my knee surgery yesterday morning at the hospital. It was In and out, like the burger chain. I saw my friend the snorer in the small waiting room. I greeted him with “ahoj” and shook his hand. (ahoj=ahoy as in ahoy matey but means “hi” in Czech) He “ahojed” me right back The conversation sorta died there because I don’t know enough Czech and he doesn’t know enough English. So we smiled and I went back to my corner to wait for the doctor. Getting the stitches out happened before I even knew it. I was a little embarrassed that the doctor saw my homemade bandage. It kinda sorta looked like a blind Egyptian mummy maker wrapped my knee. I must have used three rolls of tape. First Aid is not my forte if you are keeping notes. The doctor told me that my injury usually happens to “old” people. I looked around the room because he couldn’t be referring to me, right? He said it three times. One of my students lent me her exercise bike which we set up in my living room. I started riding it last night after school and my knee actually felt better. Healthy living and exercise aren’t really part of my M.O. so I am waiting for the shock to my system to kick in. I am also going to sign up to go to the city swimming pool once a week for a couple of months. One of the big pluses to having the stitches out was to be able to take a shower. I am sure my colleagues at school and the town of Vsetín itself is happy with that news. I was beginning to smell like “old people” (not just an old person but many many old people all in one).

Short week this week with Easter and all then off to the former capital of the Hungarian Empire, Bratislava in Slovakia. Looking forward to the break and learning a new language. I hear it’s like Czech but different. I think with my extensive linguistic skills I should have it mastered in a couple of days. How hard could it be. More later from Bratislava.

and so it goes…