The German Countryside

Mark's E-Mail Sent October 4, 2013

Hello!

For 24 years I've been trying to find a way back to my place of birth. Unfortunately, I think I have to wait awhile longer before I see the actual hospital, but I did make it to Bavaria, the federal state of Germany, where I was born! For now, that's close enough haha We are currently in Gabligen, Germany, which is 3 hrs. south of Bad Kissigen (288km or 178mi). The closest big city is Augsburg. It's 20 mins southeast (13km or 8mi).

We arrived in Gabligen Friday evening after traveling for 24 hrs. from Sweden. We left Sweden Thursday evening at 6:45 on a night ferry. It turned out to be a night cruise! We had four beds in our cabin, a tv, shower and access to everything on board. As soon as we put our packs in our room we ate a two hr. dinner buffet with complimentary beer and wine. I had five plates including dessert. I literally had to lay down for awhile until my stomach stopped hurting. They had everything imaginable: french fries, crawfish, lasagna, crab legs and shrimp salad (that's what one of my plates looked like lol). After we all recovered from our food coma, we checked out the boat's night club. They had a guy playing covers on the piano. He was very talented. He played a lot of American songs. Eventually we all went to sleep and woke up at 9:15 as we docked in Kiel, Germany.

From Kiel we rode multiple trains from 11am to 7:30pm. It went by surprisingly fast for being on a train all day. I ordered a bratwurst from a stand outside of the train station as soon as we arrived in Augsburg. It was good, but definitely different than any bratwurst I've had before. Not necessarily in a bad way. Just different. It's hard to explain.

Shortly after, our host, Patrick, picked us up from the train station and we arrived at his farm 20 mins later (The Autobahn isn't as exciting as I expected. Maybe it was because we were in an old van...). They have a beautiful log house they hand built themselves earlier this year. Unfortunately, their original house burnt down, and not too long ago, they had to live in a trailer in their backyard while they built this house. We are staying in the only part of their original house that didn't burn down. It consists of a bathroom and a small room with two beds. Two of us sleep on the floor.

So our hosts, Patrick and Chris, are a very interesting, flamboyant, gay couple. I definitely do not mean that in a bad way. They are just enjoying life to the fullest and don't care what ANYONE thinks. Patrick is a school teacher for disabled children. He is extremely spiritual. He is a believer of Anthroposophy. He was explaining it to is, but that's a completely different email. It's sort of a mix of all religions. A big part of it is that everyone must find their own path to righteousness. He is the more sensitive one in the marriage.

 Chris only works on the farm. He use to be a big marketing director for a big radio station in Augsburg, maybe even Germany. He claims to have been close to Michael Jackson, Kid Rock and Pink. Apparently, he was invited to Michael's funeral. Anyways, he quit his job because the stress was affecting his health. He has been farming ever since.

We started work yesterday. Thus far we have: cut down a couple small trees and made piles of firewood, cleaned their chicken and sheep dens, removed trash throughout their property, built a fence and small area for their geese, repaired the roofing on the animal dens and helped them clean their trailer. It's been hard but rewarding work.

We had a huge BBQ with our host and their friends. We learned a lot about German culture. According to Mathew, a friend of theirs, "In Germany, when you wake up you have a beer, when you go to the bathroom you have a beer, when you start a fire you have a beer, when you are eating you have a beer and when you are working...you DONT have a beer. That's a trap." I'll let you ponder on Matt's quote. I'm off work for the day so it's time I follow his advice ;)

Chat soon.

-Mark

Down to Italy