Written on September 4, 2006
Well, this is becoming a recurring theme for me . . . I promise to stop sending these for a couple of weeks and then I break down and send another one the very next week. Here is my dilemma, there is something going on every week and if I don't send stories now, I'll never send them! So here goes . . .
A word of warning before I start, there is no way in the world that this version could be as exciting as last week's in Prague. Please forgive me but I can't jet out of the country every weekend!! All I can promise is that it WILL be different.
Now, let me recap. The weekend before last, as you all know, I went to Prague. It was great but also very tiring so I decided not to go to Budapest as originally planned for this last weekend. Once they heard, I knew my friends would schedule something in lieu of this and they talked about going rafting. However, this was never mentioned later in the week and I got my hopes up that the torrid pace they had set for me was finally slowing down. So, I went home Friday evening thinking about how I would enjoy myself (ALONE!). It wasn't meant to be however. I had been home about an hour when one of my friends called and suggested that I come out and visit them in Velky Saris. This is a suburb of Presov and has only about 5,000 people. I got on the bus and was there in 20 minutes.
Upon arriving, I saw an interesting sight. On the ground was a vat and two buckets. Inside the VAT were plums that my friends were pulling the seeds out of. They were then putting the 'seedless' plums into another bucket. I sat down and helped them for a few hours. Picture number one is terrible because it was taken with a cellphone after dark, but the next day, I came prepared with my camera. Still, you can see the plums in one bucket and the seeds in another.
So, the next day (Saturday), I went out a little earlier and helped with stage two. This is the stage when all the plums are put in a boiling pot with only water. They are then stirred until they become a thick paste that is eventually used for jam. This can take anywhere up to 12 hours and people take turns stirring the plums. I think you saw this process in another picture I sent before. Anyway, in the next two pictures, you can see us sitting around the fire socializing while the oldest gentleman is doing all the work!! Really, the socializing is what it's all about as one can buy the jam at any store.
On Sunday, some more friends invited me out to dinner. I was off today (Monday), but my coworkers insisted that I come into work and have lunch with them. When is this going to let up? Don't get me wrong, I like the attention but I need a break every now and then. My friends/colleagues seem a bit obsessed and I don't know how to deal with it. Usually, I'm the one who's obsessed with others!! Any advice from those of you who share this problem?
So, what's on the agenda for this weekend? I'm scheduled to go to the Vysoke Tatry (High Tatras) with two of my students. The only thing they have guaranteed me is that I won't need any special equipment for the climbing. This should be interesting for you since I haven't sent any pictures of mountains yet. In September, I should be visiting a Roma school, a university in Kosice and traveling to Budapest if I don't get talked out of it again. Should be fun!
That's all I have for now. Hope you're all enjoying these stories, even those of you who never write!!
Take care, Russ