Last Of The Swedes

Trip Start Jan 31, 2010
Trip End Jul 21, 2010

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Rocky's Lilo

Flag of Germany  , Mecklenburg-West Pomerania,
Monday, May 10, 2010

I wake early to my alarm. Last day again. I lie still for a little, then remember the list of bits I wrote to do last night. My back is still sore; I will need to do something about it soon. Not stretching properly for a week really took its toll. I've just about finished packing when I hear Lena stirring next door, her crazy alarm entering its cycle of rings and beeps.

Heading out to the main house, I’m met by a locked door. It’s after seven, so I thought it would be open. Back in the other house I put some tea on, making it up with tea, some tea bag I found in my pack and pear cider. Not my favourite, it tastes best when it’s still super hot. I probably won’t keep that recipe. As I’m finishing the wicked both Maria knocks and comes in to take the Waffle iron – it’s going to be one of those breakfasts, heck yes! We’re all a bit quiet around the table; I’ve still got that list in my head of things to do. Maria and Lena talk in Swedish, so it must be about the horses. Lena has her work to do, brushing down the animals in the pens, the older one unwilling to stand still. From the front yard I can hear the horse calling out in distress. She doesn’t want to be in a pen without her daughter nearby, calling out for her. Eventually Lena puts the younger one away as well to attempt to calm the thing down, but still she will not stop moving in circles and pulling away from the horse brush. I have no idea how to help.

After my morning bits are done Maria and I head into town, praying most of the way that the car does not run out of petrol. We pick up post boxes for my glass (and chocolate, who says not to chocolate); we get hay for the horses. We are running out of time. Maria finds it so strange that I have a year to do whatever I want, have no responsibilities, no rules, and yet I keep to such a tight timetable. It may seem strange but I’ve noticed I need to set some structure to keep from being totally distracted and missing out on what I wanted to do in the first place. I don’t like it when the things I moved here or are forgotten.

Collecting the work at Elna’s I forget how much stuff we actually made, not prepared with the right postage box. So instead I choose what to send home, leaving the rest with Maria o do with as she pleases. As we look through everyone’s work, pointing out who made what, talk leads on to families and education. Elna's kindergarten having a small bias towards her and Herman and Maria’s having it’s own problems with Tilde’s and Zebastian’s in the past – and before long we have run out of time to see Lena before I leave. I feel terrible, but as I pack the last of my things at Maria’s I choose a watercolour of hers to take with me and write her a short letter. I will miss everyone.

The drive down to the bus stop is sad and exciting at the same time. Maria waits with me. We don’t say too much, everything has already been said. I want to come back. I will miss her terribly. I cannot thank her enough for everything she has done and allowed me to do with my time here.

The bus is late; it makes things awkward, just like the word awkward. We both wave as I drive away.

It’s a long drive to Ystad; I’d forgotten how long it took from my first day in Sweden. I try to blog a bit, needing to catch up, but public transport has it’s way again and my eyes get heavy. The connecting bus in Ystad is not the easiest thing to find, and I’ve only given myself five minutes between busses. I was under the impression Trelleborg was the end f the line for the bus, but apparently people drive all the way to Malmo from here via Trelleborg. In my mind that doesn’t make sense, but I’ve never been one for maps.

The bus takes us along the coast, again the concept of a Swedish coast feels foreign, a Swedish beach even more so. The road winds with the coast as a couple have a dispute in the back; using the word 'shit good’ about something no one else is sure of. He keeps muttering under his breath the whole journey; at first I thought there was something wrong with one of the wheels of the car. Danger averted, it’s the weirdo in the back.

Trelleborg feels like a slightly up market port town. Maybe it’s more that every shop here seems directed at those getting on and off the ferries, or working on the boats, leaving them at night and back on in the morning. That said, my walk around is rather quick so it could be a little bias. There are a few wicked sculptures, one is a copper group hidden under a blanket of umbrellas, the water seeming to fall inside than out,

Down at the depot I wait with three others, switching from Swedish to what I think is German every now and again. The bus is late – one other man is picked up as quickly whisked away, but we are told this is not our ship. When the bus does eventually arrive the driver appears angry at the world. The automatic doors at the back are broken so stay open, the fluorescent hazard tape flickers in the little wind here. Climbing aboard I also notice the drivers life jacket mere inches from his seat. Why didn’t I get a life jacket?

The bus weaves amongst the trucks, each with one or two containers destined for places across the sea in red, blue and brown. All four of us are surprised when we’re asked to get out and walk up amongst said cars and containers to the back of the boat, maneuvering up a smaller ladder to the door inside. The car park area is nearly full, every manner of car and truck and motorcycle is deciding today is the day they will travel to Rostock. The door to the lift opens like a sliding door on a space ship as we huddle in.

There are cabins above, information and casino below and a strange restaurant area where I choose to reside for the entire journey. It takes a while to work out, but the feeling is of a retirement village – the colours are pastel or deep red, the carpet is that you find in a casino and the fabric used are easy to clean with a hose. Heck yes retirement village on the open water.

The announcement is in the three languages – German, Swedish and English. Captain appears to speak all of them fluently, choosing to add an mmmmm sound to the word welcome "and mmmmwelcomemm passsagners". He informs us that we’re leaving on time –I watch the boat back out of the harbour then turn to face the screen. I’ve chosen this time to focus on the blog so will keep in this direction for some time. So focused that I don’t realise how far we’ve moved until there is no sign of the coastline at all. A large balding man with round glasses and a grey polo walks to the back of the room, plastic bag in hand full of what could be blankets. It is. In minutes he has himself a bed like area to sleep in and is dead to the world, snoring loudly and coughing though a dream. I think he belongs to the foursome playing cards across from me; they smile like loving parents and look at each other. Le what?

The food area around the corner is a small buffet style eatery, the kind you find in both ships and retirement villages. The lady at the counter speaks in English in an American accent, letting me know she deals in Swedish Crowns and Euros – making the currency conversion ever so apparent. After writing for a good hour I go through the food I brought, a wicked blood orange with red packaging and a bottle of water. It turns out I bought mineral water, oh well.

I need a break fro the computer screen, and from this retirement village set up. I ask the foursome if they could be so kind as to watch my belongings and make for the upstairs. I don’t understand why people would have a cabin for such a short journey, but all of these are full as I head for the door outside. I am the only person outside. The wind is cold but bearable. The sounds are everywhere. The wind appears to be carrying the sounds of the engine all around the vessel, vibrating the walls and tickling the lifeboats. There doesn’t appear to be very many lifeboats here. It’s like Titanic over again. I get some wicked photos of the sun over the sea before heading back.

We arrive on time, according to the scary attempt at sexy voice of the airwaves. She let everyone know dinner was being served earlier – with a strange whisper from the back of the throat that did not do what it wanted to do.

I’m unsure if this put people off the idea of food, but I don’t see many eating. Perhaps they are around the corner and out of earshot.

Heading downstairs with my luggage I find the family of three once more. It would seem we are the only people who did not travel with a car, once again the only our in the shuttle bus to the terminal. And here we wait, for what turns out to be a bus that never comes. After half an hour the three talk amongst themselves as I look to the timetable once more. They decide to get a taxi and ask where I’m going. Apparently it’s after their stop, but we decide to chare a taxi away from the port. As the taxi arrives a fifth person joins us. After a brief conversation we learn taxis too do not come here very often, and suggest he come with us instead. So it’s five in four seats in a taxi and I have no idea where I am. I introduce myself as we go, and it’s not long before we reach the first stop. They wish us all the best, and leave me and another apparent tourist in the taxi. His name is Matthias, and while German born has been teaching Biology in Sweden. After I tell him about my trip and the people I’ve met and the language barriers I surprisingly haven’t encountered much he warns me about the luxury I’ve been having in Sweden. It’s not uncommon here for people to not speak English, especially that well. At the same time he speaks five languages and has traveled quite a bit, so there is always the opportunity I bump into a fellow traveler.

Dropping me at the train station he refuses to let me pay, thinking of it as his greeting and welcome to Germany gift. HSFB people in Germany are nice!

So I’m out at Parkstrasse Station. I have an address and a phone number without credit. I ask the first person I come across if they have heard of the said location. They have not, but suggest asking another student, as she is quite new, studying art history at the local university. The next has not heard of the street either. Oh dear. New plan, I begin asking people if they know where some internet may be.

I ask on three occasions, everyone suggesting the University that I cannot get into without a swipe card and need to register my laptop anyway. I consider walking the streets until morning, until something opens. Eventually I happen across two girls. They believe a bar nearby may have wireless, a café /bar place called Café Lom. I will try anything. Gabbi and Laura are both studying at the university, so lead the way. Between sips of a badly concealed bottle of bourbon and coke (I think, it could really be anything) they laugh at my lack of languages, and even more at my frustration at it. Gabbi had to learn Russian at her high school, it was one of the two possible after German and English but doesn’t really use it, except to swear at people. Laura speaks French as well.

Everything they’ve heard about Germany is warm and sunshine and beaches, so cannot understand why I decided to come to Germany. While the summers here are nice, they’re under the impression Australian one are better, though they are yet to experience them. I learn my first German word, one I can use in every conversation Ganow! And it means right. Hearing it as people pass us in the street, it’s much like the Swedish Ya, Ya so bits they use to carry conversation or emphasise a point. Jason learns German!

The internet does work at the café, and the street name is correct, and so Laura and Gabbi decide the best thing to do is to walk me to my door, not liking the idea of an Australian lost I Rostock.

The streets are crazy umbers here. Instead of have odds and evens on opposite sides like in Australia (and other English and European countries I am sure) the numbers run one after another, turning at one end of the street and coming back the other side. The only good thing I can think of coming from this is you know how many houses are in a street without traveling down it, the numbers 1 and 54 (for example) sitting opposite each other.

The house is made up of three apartments and Rocky (the user name and my apparent contact) does not appear next to any of the doorbells –Shit. The top floor has a purple glittery star next to it. Pray Jason. After a few minutes of wishing and hoping a thick black mop of hair opens the door, complete with a girl underneath. Rocky not Rocky is surprised I found her house and invites the others in as well, but taking a watering can to the flowers out the front while she’s downstairs. Gabbi and Laura decline, keeping to their drink and working out how to get home. I thank them so much and head inside. It’s six flights of stairs to the top floor; I teeter with my bags at the top of the fourth.

I enter to a house full of women, a cozy three room masterpiece of a place with everyone situated in the living room, a massive graff work behind the couch, the only light coming from the lamp in one corner and countless tea lights. Nadine’s friends take up the surrounding seats, making room for us both when we return. Hannan sits nearby on the floor, and Anna and Caroline share the couch across from us. We talk about travel, and all four list places I should go If I have been or considered yet. There is a debate of the betterness of Berlin or Rostock, Nadine being the born and bread kind losing to Anna and Caroline. The two are heading to Berlin on Thursday, as it’s apparently [public holiday that weekend. Known as the ascension, it’s summarized as Jesus driving a fast car to heaven. This aside, it’s basically an excuse for al men to get drunk and stay drunk, and the girls are on the hunt for the best looking ones. They giggle wickedly about it; I don’t think I want to be there for it.

Hannan was taught to reads palms by her grandmother. She doesn’t believe in it, which makes for a much more objective look at our futures. Tracing the lines in our hands, seeing where they join and intersect. From what my hand tells her I will marry for love very early, fall ill or into trouble when I hit fifty, and spend the last five years of my life in trouble/pain/sickness, cutting the line around sixty. I will also have three kids, whether they look after in my last years is anyone’s guess. Hanna talks a lot of love and relationships – having been with her boyfriend for seven years. Apparently it was a slow burning romance with her not really feeling anything for him when they first considered dating. Now it could be for life, even with each of them in different countries for weeks at a time. This is wonderful to hear, and makes me miss everyone back home.

After the others leave Nadine and I stay up a little longer and work out a few rules and bits and pieces, the key and what not. There is a block of chocolate on my pillow, much like le posh hotel rooms. We share it as we talk about music and bands, Nadine playing Smashing Pumpkins on her tape player. Tape Player! Guess who else likes Tom Waits and The Smiths? I bust out two songs without thinking about how late it is. Oh well.

In bed I watch the candlelight I forgot to blow out that hangs from the ceiling, unaware of the passing hours. HSFB I’m in Germany.
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