Our roles have reversed now. Alan is in Utah while I am here in Germany. It’s times like these that make me realize how much I count on him.
I have Woody to keep me from being too lonely. Every time he brings me a toy to tug or nestles his head under my chin, I am so grateful we went through the hassle of getting him here. Actually, there isn’t anything that has made me regret bringing him.
Maybe I should have taken him on my little quest to find our church from the Strassenbahn evening before last. He might have part blood hound in him, the way he puts his nose to the ground and pulls me along sometimes.
But I was on my own that evening. That’s often a problem. My inner GPS is faulty.
Alan and I started taking German lessons from the sister missionaries in our ward. I will take my driver’s test on Friday so for now I am using public transportation to get around. I challenged myself to find my way to the class on Tuesday by using the RNV website (think UTA). I plugged in the address of my destination, it told me to take the #23 from Leimen into Heidelberg, pick up the #5 at the city library, get off at the Technology school, and then walk 6 minutes to my destination. It should take 39 minutes.
I found the right street cars, got off at my stop and started walking the scheduled 6 minute walk. Shortly after I started walking, I looked through houses and trees and saw a steeple. Ahh, no problem. After walking 10 minutes I wasn’t seeing anything familiar, the view of the steeple lost to the thickness of the trees and apartment buildings. I made my way back to the street I had followed after getting of the #5.
Class started at 19:00 (they use 24 hour time here). At 19:25 I figured I was probably in the wrong area of town. I still thought maybe I could wander until I found the church, even if it took me another 30 minutes. At least I would know for sure where it was.
At 19:45 I had passed the point of frustration and was fascinated by the beauty of the neighborhood. And for the hundredth time I was amazed at how quiet this country is. There were walking paths through neighborhoods, fenced playgrounds, wisteria dangling over a doorway, highly evolved homes compared to others that looked their age, and–oh look, there’s the steeple. It was the steeple I saw from the bahnhof (tram/street car stop). Unfortunately it wasn’t my church’s steeple. But it was one of most beautiful old churches I have ever seen.
(If I had known I was going to take the scenic route, I would have taken a camera. For heaven’s sake, I’m in Europe! I should always have a camera with me, but my point and shoot battery is dead and Alan’s camera is so big it’s not always fun to carry everywhere.)
By 20:25, my feet were tired and I was done sight seeing, it was getting darker and I didn’t know when the strassenbahn quit for the night. So I made my way back home. Indeed, fewer street cars were running so I had to take a different route home. As I was about to step off one street car to catch another I heard a loud whispered, “Sister Pentico!” and turned to see the sister missionaries waiving at me. It was too late to tell them, “Sorry, I really did try to make it to your class. By the way, which # street car gets me there?”
In my annoyance from that missed encounter, I got on the wrong car. I got back off to catch the right car. It would be a 26 minute wait.
While waiting at that bahnhof, a gal came up to me and in heavily accented English said, “Can you tell me if I can catch the 23 train to Leimen here?” I smiled and told her that’s where I am going. Her name was Ewa and she was from Cairo, Egypt. She’s here for the week to see if doctors can figure out what is wrong with her back. She had only ridden the train and a taxi so far and didn’t know how to use the strassenbahn. Thanks to my trial and error use of the system and my culture class instructor, Havi, I was able to show this gal how it works. The only thing I wasn’t sure of was if the strassenbahn ran all the way to Leimen at that hour. It was almost 21:15. We would find out together.
It was the first time in 2 1/2 weeks that a stranger has struck up a conversation with me. I realized how refreshing that was. I’m not one to strike up a conversation with a stranger very often, but even if I did speak German, I don’t see strangers chatting with each other here. Maybe a comment here or there in passing, but never with the intent to make friendly conversation. Or so it seems.
Ewa and I had a nice visit on our 40 minute journey home. My attempt to get to my German class may have been unsuccessful, but it wasn’t a waste of time.
P.S. After looking at the map and the RNV website again, they took me about 2 stops too far. I’m still not even sure I know which train to take. I will ask the sister missionaries on Sunday. And I will be back to take a photo of that church.