Friday, April 28, 2006

Croatia Pictures (as promised)

This is the beautiful town of Trogir. David had to do a little convincing to get me to agree to riding a scooter 40 minutes on the highway in order to get to Trogir, but we arrived safely and had a good time exploring. We even had time to take the scooter into the hilly countryside where we found a cute little chapel. Unfortunately, as a result of all that riding I couldn't walk properly for the rest of the holiday.

This is the courtyard of an old monastery in Dubrovnik. I think it's 14th or 15th century. Eitherway, it kind of reminded me of a Hilton resort...that "Old World" feel that landscape designers charge millions of dollars to achieve. Amateurs.

The beautiful Tower Clock in Dubrovnik. I think it's special/historical for some reason or other, but we never got the story. What can you do?

The Dubrovnik City Harbor. The site of a massive bombing during the 1991-95 war. Apparently, most of the Old City was damaged, if not destroyed. Quite sad. I don't know the whole story, but I bought a book on it and can tell you all about it at a later date.

Just when you think you've got it all figured out...

...something changes.

Do you ever feel that you have so much to say that you have nothing to say? Here's a rundown of the last week:

Saturday: went to the Tiergarten with Marina and her kids. In true Harry Potter fashion, we were accosted by a snake nonchalantly traveling across the wooded path. Totally a harmless snake, but a snake nonetheless.

Monday: Jenny arrived and much chaos ensued

Tuesday: Diaknap (Student's Day) at the school. A day full of fun programs for the kids. Jenny tells me that every year they ask the American to play on the teacher's basketball team during the Senior/Teacher match, but this year they didn't. No, correction...they did, but they asked Jenny instead of me. Please, let the delight of Jenny visiting start as soon as possible (and by "delight" I mean "Mandi fading even further into the background")

Tuesday: My videocamera FINALLY arrived and I had to run around Sopron in my sandals looking for an ATM machine that worked whilst Mr. Postás waited in the Tanáriszóba for me (I had to pay an outrageous amount of money to the customs office) *sigh* Oh, but I did get to make a giant fool of myself (along with other teachers) during the special teacher's program on Diaknap. We did a little impromtu dancing, complete with lifts (circa 1985 a lá Dirty Dancing)

Wednesday: English Club, same old same old

Thursday: The first Szerenad by 12C. Every year the senior classes go around to the teacher's homes and serenade them as a way of saying goodbye. If one of the students lives at the kollégium they also come to say goodbye to everyone there. So they came at 9 pm (naturally, I didn't know about it until Jenny knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to come watch) and all the lights were turned off. The other students crowded around the staircases and held candles whilst the 12C class congregated in the bottom stairwell and sang. It was totally awesome and I got some good nightvision footage of it with my spiffy camera

Friday: same old, same old

Saturday: going to Vienna to try to find a dress for Jessie's wedding. I know exactly what I want, which is turning into a problem because no store has exactly what I want. I may just go to a tailor in Sopron and get one made...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Boldog Húsvétot!

Happy Easter everyone! He is risen!

I had the opportunity to travel to Croatia and travel to Croatia I did. It's not someplace I ever thought I'd visit, but I did. A full 24 hours by bus and train both ways, but believe it or not, it was worth it. We spent 1 night in Split, the second largest city. In Croatia it's a big tradition to meet a local at the train station and rent a room in their house for the night, so that's what we did. Not something I'd even consider in the U.S. but totally fine in Croatia. Split is where Diocletian built his retirement palace and we walked around that place for a bit, although it's been largely rebuilt into an old-town-esque, high-end shopping district. We then explored our adventurous side and rented a scooter to travel 40 minutes by highway to a little town called Trogir. I don't know Trogir's story, but it was an amazingly beautiful little place by the sea (as many places in Croatia are) and completely charming.

The next day we took a 5 hour bus ride to Dubrovnik which is THE place to visit in Croatia. Incidentally we drove through Bosnia but as we were all non-Serbian tourists, we didn't have any problems. And can I just say that 5 hours along a winding, curvy coastline highway kind of sucks, but it's totally worth it for the amazing view. Really. I have no idea why anyone honeymoons in Mexico when they can go to Croatia (other than the exhorbitant price of an airline ticket).

We got to Dubrovnik, found another local eagerly awaiting our arrival, and walked down to old-town to see what we could see. And let me tell you the view was brilliant. We took a ferry out to an island, Lokrum, where Richard the Lionheart landed and built a monastery. Now the island is one large nature preserve to we hiked around and climbed a huge hill to the old fortress. It was so nice to spend the day outside walking the same paths as the Romans.

On Sunday we went to mass in a centuries (possibly millenia) old monastery in Dubrovnik. Didn't understand a thing, but then that's not always the point. David tried to dunk me in true Slovak Easter tradition, but I was having none of that. Instead we travelled a full 24 hours back home and now classes start up again tomorrow. Sadly, we did not have more time in Croatia, but what can you do?

Pictures to come later.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Holy Mayhem and Praise Be to God

To give you a little perspective...

An old friend of mine is a missionary in Western Europe. He was asked to go to a prayer meeting at a local church and pray for the anti-abortion movement in his country. What he didn't know is that there were 300 protesters outside the church and riot police separating the mob from the 30 people praying. After quite a lot of tension build-up the police told the group they were leaving and wouldn't protect them anymore. Instead of leaving, the faithful persecuted congregated to the back of the church building and continued to pray, this time including the hearts of the angry mob in their petitions. Shortly thereafter my friend left with his teammate and sidled around to one side of the church to see if the crowd was still there. The two were then surrounded by 10 angry pro-choice protesters and accosted. Luckily, no one was hurt beyond a blow to the eye. My friend said that even with that, he never felt any fear nor did he feel any aggression or anger toward his attackers.

All I can say is Thank God no one was seriously hurt...during this altercation and during the entire prayer session. Please pray that God be with this pro-life movement in France and be with those who have so much anger and hatred as a result of their feelings and beliefs about this issue. As my friend said, these people were just protesting for something they believe in, but I pray mightily that God reveal the truth to their hearts. I pray that, if they are protesting based on their feelings rather than the facts of the issue, then I hope that they become educated about abortion. It's more than just a matter of "woman's choice." It's a matter of humanity.

If you don't know my opinion on this subject, then please know now that I find abortion disgusting and cruel. There is no situation bigger than our God and therefore there is no reason why anyone should kill a helpless child (yes, child not fetus). There is plenty of literature out there on how abortions are performed, what happens to the child, how you can know you're killing a child and not a "fetus" and so forth. I know many people feel differently, especially when unwanted pregnancies come from the cruelest of situations, but I still believe that my God is loving, that He is just, and that He knows what He's doing everytime when He creates that miracle of life and I don't believe it's our place to tell Him he was wrong.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Save the Empire!

From the Eurasia Volunteer Coordinator:

"Be wise; be cautious; stay alive. Don't pick up any dead birds; stay out of Hungary, France and Monaco. If you live in Hungary, stay away from political rallies and their attendant bomb threats."

What if there's one right outside my door? And I mean that literally. Right. Outside. My. Door. Come Sunday morning when I walk out my door, the chances of me slamming it into an Hungarian voter are 10 to 1. The kollegium (where I happen to live) was chosen as a voting establishment for the first round of elections and the only room big enough that's accessible to all the little old men and women who can't walk up 4 flights of stairs is the TV Szoba directly across the hall from my apartment. Actually, you can't really call it "across the hall" it's more like "the other side of the alcove." Neato.

In other news: Got a message from the Posta. They're holding my video camera hostage for $100 even though my parents sent it to me as a gift. I went to the Post Office to pick it up and they tell me it's in Budapest. So not only are they demanding a ransom, they're making me come to their turf to make the hand-off. Jerkstores.

Monday, April 3, 2006

I'll think about that tomorrow

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's right. I totally just quoted Scarlett O'Hara in my blog title.

I am referring to the fact that I have not written a newsletter in 2 months. I'm deeply sorry and cannot offer up any excuses. My computer was not broken, I was not super busy (well, I was, but that's not an excuse), all I can say is that I am sorry and that I am working on it.

Lately I've been thinking a lot. And I think those thoughts have been God-planted and I would like to share them with all of my avid (if not, rabid) readers but I have to get them organized first and that, my friends, takes time. Yes, even to an organizational control-freak like myself.

Basically I've been going through a ripping-my-guts-open-and-laying-everything-bare kind of phase and I'm thinking that's where I'll take this next newsletter. But as you can imagine, that kind of openness makes a girl, well, vulnerable (and a wee bit self-conscious) and I'm still plucking up the courage to write the darn thing.

I've been learning a lot since my last newsletter...quite a few of those "epiphany" type whathaveyous. I've learned a lot about friendship, I've learned a lot about myself, but most importantly I think I've learned more about God. That, me hombres, is one of the reasons why I'm on earth and I'd like to ride this wave of enlightenment a little further before I share it all with you (I wanna make sure I got it right, you see...or as "right" as possible). So sit tight. It's coming...