Slovakian keyboards are different
Trip Start Aug 17, 2009
27Trip End Dec 03, 2009
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The most popular things in the village are beer, Borovicka and potatoes.
It can be pretty cold here in the winter with temperatures dropping well below zero. Luckily for Ryan, his 83 year-old neighbour, Sofia keeps a gentle eye on him, bringing him Halusky when his Borovicka spirits have run out. Halusky which Sofia also cooked while I was here is, from what I can gather, cabbage, something creamy and pig fat. She also brings around the worldˇs best hangover cure, black tea, honey and blackberry juice. Sofia is a champion of champions.
Milan is for some reason a very popular name here. This caused some confusion as I had come from Milan, anyway, Little Milan as the locals call him, is a fourteen-year-old with a wonderful nature and quick mind. He has been a great help to Ryan in communications with builders and suppliers and just about everybody else in the village who doesnīt speak English, which by my calculations is everyone bar three, two of those three canīt speak any language after 11pm.
There have been certain construction issues largely due to a long employment line of alcoholic builders, in fact, in the few days I was in Parnica I noticed that one thing which runs through a large percentage of Parnicians is a high blood alcohol content. Despite the alcoholism the people I have met are wonderful, a little more communicative in the evenings than the mornings but nevertheless, good, welcoming people... a big shout goes out to Olo and his twin brother for keeping the pub in business and entertaining the crowds.
Ryanīs house is coming along and sooner or later will be rented out to guests who'll be able to enjoy skiing in the winter and walking, hiking or rafting and of course year-round drinking.
Parnica has a speaker system wired to every street in the village, actually itīs not just Parnica but all Slovak villages. It comes alive everyday with Slovak music and then an announcement, one such audio interjection was translated for me and reminded us of the price of potatoes in the village.
I imagine these systems are the reminants of the old communist regime. Probably used to broadcast the party line "work for your brothers and they will work for you, fear not, the state will provide" It must have been hard living under Soviet rule, I was informed that one day in 1953 the Soviets closed the Slovack boarders and emptied all the money in the banks. Slovakia was rich at this point, they had prospered from post-war rebuilding. From that day forward any citizen trying to leave, a popular route was to swim across the Danube into Austria, was shot. The marksman was shot if his aim wasnīt what the authorities deemed accurate "enough".
I was also told that from one day to the next you could be required to move city and transfer job, with no explanation. Any complaining and you were arrested. It must have been a suffocating atmosphere - alcohol, which was virtually free, must have seemed a good option both to the drinker, as a way of forgetting the oppression and to the government as a way of controlling the populous.
There were others who described the communist years in more sympathetic tones. They speak of an equality, stronger foamy values and much less greed.
Twenty years on and Slovakia has the same T.V programmers, and the same multinationals as the western word. Their new propaganda machine appears to be the television, the comsumeristic values which it purveys are pumped out non-stop and have taken root... just like potatoes, as I was told at the potatoe festival, "you plant one and a few months later you get eight".
All the information about Sovakiaīs past comes from John the Punk, a savvy twenty-year old. When he isnīt moshing in the rain, or studying in Bratislava, he deflates his mohican and takes tourists down the river on a raft past a 12th Century castle which was hastily built on top of a rock at the threat of Genghis Khanīs invasion, which never actually came. Incidentally is you were wondering what "moshing" means, it comes from the verb to mosh, which as with the verb to rave, to head-bang, to tango or to waltz, means to dance. Technically, I believe head-banging is a move required during a rest period from hardcore moshing.
The Parnica potatoe festival turned out to be a fine example the new meeting the old in Slovakia; traditional dancing, punkrock moshing, old peasant women and seriously chaved up Yorkshire terriers.
I was reliably informed that the only country in Europe which drinks more than the U.K is Czech, I can only assume that the surveyors had Slovakia so far of the scale that they simply didnīt notice them. I witnessed some serious alcoholism, burst blood vessels that Rudolf would have been proud of, stumbling which was so bad that the intelligent tactic for reaching your house was to point yourself in the opposite direction from home and take one step forwards and two steps back. Outside Tescoīs , yes they have Tescoīs, I was accosted by various beer beggars. Even when I stopped my bike in the countryside for more than five minutes it seemed that from amongst the potatoes plants a booze-zombie would come stumbling towards me, arms outstretched, wide stance with strange mumbling noises come from their mouths and a vacant glean to the eye. It really was like something out of Michael Jacksonīs thriller video. They no longer have hangovers, life is one long stumbling blank, in search of alcohol. Very sad.
My tyres were becoming itchy as I knew I had a long way to go and was also a little worried I'd turn into beer monster but I hung on to say a quick hello and goodbye to the earlier mentioned Romans, Tom, Katia and Katia's friend Monica.
A great little village.
Where I stayed
Ryan"s house cont... X