Broumov, Czech Republic
29 October 2002
I recently returned from a prolonged hike in the wonderful Czech countryside. During the day it was fantastic weather, a little cloudy and windy at times but once I made the tree-line in the nearby hills everything was calm. Right now a, rather, strong storm is blowing through Broumov on it's way to Poland so the windows are currently singing as the wind slips through the cracks into our apartment. But soon it will pass and I will, once again, be left with the periodic passing of a vehicle in the street below.
Section I: Daily Life
Section II: Current Projects
Section III: Upcoming Events
Section IV: Fun and Entertainment
These past few weeks have been mostly work. Most of the time I am finding my way down to the Pivovar in the morning after breakfast and working, generally, until I get hungry again, usually about 13: 00. It's been, mostly, the same type of boring, tedious, stuff with our website and wordpad, but recently I have been working with our ISP to setup a test mailing list. They have this GNU, GNU = GNU's not UNIX, program called Mailman. It looks really nice with all sorts of silly options, but there seems to be a server side configuration issue since we can't subscribe people via the web and messages only go to a single account and not people on the list. So it's been mostly e-mailing the nice Czech technical support to see what's going on and attempting to postulate their configuration since it doesn't seem to be an issue with what I have access to administratively. Since we are on Internet usage probation most of the conversations between me and the ISP are delayed. And now since it's the weekend, I probably won't hear from them until Monday or possibly Tuesday.
Most of the other work recently has been the continued mapping of the website and breaking tasks down for general improvement. There are quite a few pages that are combination Czech/English, so they need to be split out so our visitors need not be Christopher Columbus to locate the section in English. There are also a surprising number of pages in Czech that have never been translated into English. So this week I'll begin doing some of the very easy work myself and hopefully set in motion for someone else, the heavy duty work of translating other pages, and then, of course, integrating these pages into the existing website. So normally my afternoon session is still going until midnight, this is also about the time the guard wants to sleep, and my tired eyes simply begin to give out after staring at the computer screen in our, not so well lit office space. But at least things are moving forward. I commented to a friend the other day that things move more slowly than the sidewalks. And this is generally true for a lot of things, especially when it comes time to drive a project towards completion.
I have recently realized that quite a bit of my spare time has been spent walking in and around Broumov. In and around it's many nearby villages that are oftentimes hidden by the rolling hills of the countryside. The Autumn here in Broumovsko has been conducive to being outside for a nice hike. There are many well marked hiking and cycling paths that I have discovered. For instance, one of my favorite hikes wanders through the rolling, open farmland to a nearby hill, some people call it a mountain, where at its peak you can find a Czech - German restaurant and have a very scenic, panoramic vista over part of Broumovsko and into the frontier of Poland. It takes under two hours to reach the top and in it's tree covered canopy you can find the locals hunting for edible mushrooms, cyclists, horse drawn cards and the occasional hiker. So yesterday I spent the afternoon taking a nice leisurely walk out to the tree-line and followed one of it's paved cycling paths for an hour or so. I'm not certain what I will be doing today other than going on a nice hike and possibly making my way back down to the Pivovar to check e-mail, see what the cost is to travel by train from Praha to Berlin and possibly look into beginning to work on some additional changes to the website.
Well I find myself approaching another end of a month, which means I need a new stamp in my passport! My lovely friend from Slovenia, Natasa, and a few of her friends are driving to Berlin for a few days. For those that faithfully followed my adventures from last year, you may remember that I visited Natasa from her 29th birthday. Anyway, we are all meeting in Berlin and, hopefully, hooking up with Gábor as well. Gábor is also the same person whom I visited after Natasa, for his birthday. I'm really looking forward to seeing these silly people again, since it's been nearly a year from the last time we all hooked up. I also have a few more e-mails out to some more silly Germans, Fiona, whom I met in Mannenbach, Switzerland, during my workcamp with PBI. She is still continuing her studies, and is attempting to finish her final paper by the end of the year, so hopefully she will have time between doing her own research and work, to sustain her way of life, to visit will me for a while. The other person I hope to visit is Jana from the same workcamp I met Natasa and Gábor. She is a very serious person, and will likely not have the time to even reply to my e-mail, let alone see my silly ass, but it's worth the effort since I will be traveling through Dresden, where she lives as a student, on my way between Praha and Berlin. I have a few more friends who still live in Berlin, or at least the last time I heard from them they were located there, so maybe I may see one or two of them as well.
From Broumov I can get to Berlin in a single day, but it's brutal! I first take a bus to Praha that leaves about 7:00. The train from Praha to Berlin takes 6 hours, woa! This is brutal. I was hoping to visit Kuba in Posnan during this time but I had to put this off since this other gig came up. Though I still plan to visit Kuba sometime, his next available time to meet isn't for a while. The silly kid is pretty busy with school and some training he is going through for his job, so hopefully in late November or early December.
One evening this past week while I was working down at the magical Pivovar, I had some curious visitors, and was really glad to discover that Broumov has three other volunteers! I was absolutely amazed! These three women are volunteering on some European service in a local sweat shop where they find themselves separating clothes that are, sometimes, sold in their store front, but mostly send to Africa to help ruin and further degrade their textile industry. Irouchka, though her name is Russian is from Belgium, Anke is German and Ursula is Polish, but she currently lives in Germany. In fact Ursula told me initially she was German, but later confessed she was Polish. I can already tell she's a pretty silly person. A few days after we had met, Ursula and a few locals came to the Pivovar in a bit of a frantic state since Irouchka had not shown up back home after work. So they thought she may have paid me a visit, unfortunately not. But it just goes to show how silly the Poles can be, since the girls do an afternoon shift later in the week and get off at 19:00. Ursula stopped by the Pivovar before 20:00. You gotta love the Polish. Well, later I found out that they caught up with Irouchka on their way home, she had gone to the night store to buy a few things! Unbelievable. So anyway, these poor women are doing some back breaking work at the sweat shop and it's really not what they intended to do here for a year. I should mention that the sweat shop employs some of the most destitute people in the area. Quite a few of the workers live in the housing provided by the sweat shop where they spend their time drinking, smoking, gambling and whatever else they can possibly dream up as a way to entertain themselves and pass the time. The girls, obviously, don't like the intense labor required for the job, and honestly it's not why they signed up to volunteer. So they are looking for some freedom from the manual labor so they may have some time to organize some events, activities, programs, etc., for the workers at the sweat shop. Late this past week they met with the director, but as of this writing I do not know the outcome. They are pretty feed up with what they are currently doing, so hopefully everything turned out well for them. So I was really happy to discover these people since it will be so nice to have some interaction with someone outside of the Pivovar. Someone to bounce ideas off of, vent frustrations and to interact with socially.