August 11, 2006 (Click link to see accompanying pictures)
Hey one and all!
You'll see from this letter that I still haven't lost my enthusiasm for Slovakia. Last weekend was great as the pictures should attest. So, let me start at the beginning.
On Friday, some friends of mine invited me out. First, we climbed the hill where 'Calvary' is located. Calvary is a church with surrounding structures that represent the 12 stations of Christ's crucifiction. I didn't take any pictures of these as I felt a little strange about doing so. I did, however, take some pictures of the surrounding area. Picture #1 is one of me with the city of Presov in the background. Can you tell I'm happy?
Next, we went back down into the city and by chance, ran into a college professor that my friends knew. His name is Jaro and he's actually a professor in the English department at the University of Presov. His English was fluent and not only was he urbane and erudite, he was also common and very friendly. In retrospect, I'm a little disturbed as I thought I was the only one in the world with all those qualities combined!! Anyway, he promised me a tour of the university once classes are back in session.
Saturday, we began our journey to Kosice. Kosice is the second biggest town in Slovakia (242,000) ahead of Presov, the third biggest (100,000). Fortunately, it's only 30 minutes away by train and we got there mid-morning. Upon exiting the train station, my eyes beheld this (see picture #2). Whereas the downtown area of Presov reminds you of a quaint Bavarian village, Kosice's reminds you of something more glorious such as you might see in Vienna.
Our first stop was an interesting water fountain. This fountain sprayed out water to the beat of music in the background. So, it was difficult taking a picture with the water at it's peak! Pictures 3 to 5 show me with my friends trying to time it perfectly. Also, notice the church behind us. We climbed up to the top of this church via a narrow, spiraling stairway. My shoulders were literally rubbing against the sides of the walls as we climbed. By the time we came back down, my legs were ready to buckle.
Well, the rest of the day, we basically just walked around, ate, and drank coffee while soaking it all in. It's amazing how much of the language I've picked up already. I attribute this to a desire to talk to the people I'm around. Strange that I never really learned much Arabic!!
Now, back to Presov and this week. On Tuesday, I went to a friend of a friend's apartment. He's the director of a bank and his wife is an ER doctor. We really hit it off and they've invited me to a house warming party for the apartment they just bought. This should be in a few weeks. I look forward to it.
Really, I don't make plans anymore. My ever increasing group of friends negotiate all week (with each other) about who will take me both during the week and on the weekends. I just wait to be informed about my schedule. My only rule is that Sunday evening is for me.
Oh, I met our trainees this week and they're the final piece to a perfect puzzle. They seem very mature and responsible. People I definitely will enjoy teaching.
And, I would be remiss in not mentioning this. It seems that I have acquired a Slovak nickname. Spelled phonetically, my name is 'Leeshka.' My friends don't even use my real name anymore! They just say Leeshka this and Leeshka that! I won't tell you the meaning though. Why, you ask? Well, it's borderline negative and also demonstrates the perceptiveness of the Slovaks for others' personalities.
And so the saga continues next week . . .