Friday, October 23, 2009

Saturday 10/3: Jump-Rope and More Australians

Saturday morning brought us a quiet goodbye to the Ginger Monkey. We woke up late, and I walked to the market/gas station to buy a map. If and When I ever have my own place, I intend to cover the ceiling above my bed with maps. Old maps, new maps, places I've been, places I want to go...fuel for dreams. Zdiar, in the High Tatras, would be a lovely place to dream about after I'm gone. And that morning, we left. They hugged us goodbye like we were family. And it really did feel like we were leaving behind family. We had been with these people twenty-four hours a day, and in more than one country with some of them. When Sean first persuaded us to check out the Ginger Monkey, we planned on staying one night. We stayed three, and would have stayed longer if we didn't have a plane to catch in Poland.

While I was in Slovakia, my dad emailed me this and it just seemed to say it so well:
"The good memories are all of stopping and staying awhile. I realize I've always driven too fast through life, carrying in my baggage too much impatience and apprehension, missing too many chances, passing too many good people in the dust." Charles Kuralt, from A Life on the Road.

I like to think that, given the brevity of our vacation, we did a pretty good job of "stopping and staying awhile." Before we left, Sean gave us one of his signature glitter tattoos. The four of us got them on our wrists (I got a purple seahorse), Ashleigh got a gecko on her cheek, Kate got a dragon her chest, but we all opted out of the breast-tiger like we encountered our first night in Poland. Delightfully tacky, for three to seven days.

Sean drove us back to the Balloon hostel, and it was less-than-fun saying goodbye to him. I get the feeling that he is one of those people that I'll run into a few years down the road when I'm least expecting it. We'll see. We immediately met another Australian (shock!), Andy, and went out to lunch at the Momo restaurant. Before Slovakia, we walked by this place and the smell alone reeled us in and we promised one another that we MUST eat there before the end of our trip. We finally made it, and it turned out to be one of the most scrumptious meals ever to tickle my taste buds. Everything is vegetarian, which isn't a selling point for me, but I don't think we had a better meal the entire week. I think I had something called the "Masala Dosa," which was simply incredible. And whoever invented mint lemonade, I tip my hat to you.

We took a power nap and then sat at the picnic table in the kitchen, groggily playing cards to wake up. We learned how to play @$$hole earlier in the week from Eric, and although we are all quite bad at it, it's a lot of fun. Andy, and two new Australians, Chris and Ryan, eventually wandered into the kitchen and sat down with us. Almost immediately after sitting down, one of our new Australian friends told us, "We can tell you're American, but your accent is really, really neutral. You could almost be from anywhere." A week ago, Sean told us that we had harsh American accents. Now, after just a week of hanging out with Australians, our accents were "neutral." Sweet. We sat for a couple hours, just talking and playing cards. We decided to move the party away from the kitchen and out where we could dance. The seven of us walked to a packed pub and danced to eighties rock and weird music. Some guy there thought he was James Bond, and he showed us all how to dance like him.
(James Bond, in the red shirt)

Once we got sick of the eighties, we went upstairs to a place with different music. Around two, Jessica and I were done and so we left Jess and Camille with our three Australian friends/bodyguards. We walked out into the main square, where we bought sunflowers earlier in the week, and walked around a bit. Even though it was the middle of the night, there were still a lot of people around. In front of a big statue, about fifteen Polish kids (roughly our age) were playing jump-rope with a 25-foot-long rope. We wandered over to watch them, and they quickly waved at us to join them! We took our places in line along the rope, and everybody counted to three for the rope-swingers to start. We all made it over the rope a couple times, but soon somebody got caught on the rope. We did it a few more times, and a crowd started to form around us. A short, plump man old enough to be my father came up to me and asked, "Is it okay if I try?" I laughed and told him, "I don't know! They invited me, so I guess it's fine!" Pretty soon, the rope was so crowded with people that we could barely jump because our knees hit the person ahead in the line. A crowd stood on one side, counting for the rope to swing, and a big, formal statue stood on the other side. Getting invited to play jump-rope with fifteen Polish kids at 2am in the main square--I love my life.

We met up with the other two girls and went back to the hostel, showered the pub smell out of our hair, and went to bed at five in the morning. We had the whole room to ourselves, with a view of the little market-square from our window. The moon was perfectly full, and it shined brightly through the string-curtains. I lay awake for a long time, just watching the moonlight and citylight, thinking about the week.

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