Avid bloggers, welcome. In this post of “There and Back Again” we will watch Zach run, longboard, sing, eat, drink, sleep and even lead worship. Stay tuned to see all these events and more unfold on “There and Back Again…a blog inconsistently updated!”
This past weekend was one of the funniest weekends I have had in a long time. To me it felt like almost going to one of my friend’s house when I am on break or during the summer. Last Thursday, Erin, Blake and I ventured to Bratislava in order to try our luck again with the Visa. We were told that they had been approved and all we needed to do is show them our insurance again and we would have that long-awaited sticker. Right from the start we knew this was going to be a heck of a trip because, well, we were going to the armpit of Eastern Europe. Returning to a place where only bitter memories exist was not our most ideal trip of the month. But, we knew what must be done and so we boarded a charter bus at 6:30 in the morning and headed to Bratislava.
From the moment we exited the bus the day was already starting off as an adventure. We had gone about five blocks from the bus station when Erin turned to me and asked, “Zach, do you have you’re insurance.” With all my being I wanted to reply, “Why yes Erin, I do. That would be silly of me to forget it on the bus after I said that I would be the one to do that silly sort of thing.” But, in fact when I looked down at my hands, there was no insurance folder. A weird sensation overtook me at that point. It was your normal mix of fear, anger and disappointment but for some reason and overwhelming feeling of calmness swept over me. For reasons only God knows, I had in my mind that something was going to happen that would make this okay.
In the meantime though I took off sprinting back to the bus station, ignoring generally all traffic laws and sidewalk etiquette. As I approached the bus station I remember thinking to myself, “Please, oh please, don’t leave just yet. Fuel up or get a snack or visit the restroom or something!” As I turned the corner and scanned the lot I found that the bus was nowhere in sight. I don’t know what compelled me next but I suddenly found myself racing across the lot and in front of other city buses, searching for our gallant white bus. With every passing minute my hope was fleeting and soon I began to fear the worst. Yet, still, this entire time, a gentle caress of calmness was playing with my heart, letting me know that it’s going to be okay. I soon decided to call it quits on my investigation and to save me the embarrassment of wandering around the bus station like a lunatic. As I was heading back to Erin and Blake I uttered in desperation, “Lord, please, I need this.” As soon as the sentence left my mouth our bus came roaring around the corner. Immediately I threw my hands up and yelled for the driver to stop. He probably thought of me as crazy and delusional the way I was speaking so fast and with my short bursts of praise.
With my insurance secure and after thanking God continuously for a good five minutes, we departed for the embassy. To save you the trouble of reading about how we wasted an hour before the embassy opened I’ll just jump ahead to after we received our Visas. There was much joy, weeping (not really), and shouts of praise after finally having the long-awaited sticker. From Bratislava Erin and I boarded a train to Ostrava, which is on the Eastern side of the Czech Republic, to visit Erin’s best friend and sister, Tyna (pronounced Teen-ah).
It is here that I returned to my childhood and basically had a play-date this entire weekend. From the moment we arrived I knew I was going to regret leaving that place. Tyna had pizza and beer ready for us when we entered her apartment and we spent the first night just relaxing and talking her and her brother Petr. Petr plays in a band called FIHA and is studying cinematography, so as you can image, we got a long very well and became good friends by the week’s end.
I think the thing I miss the most about being at Tyna’s house is our morning routines. I was always the last to wake up at around 11:00 and would meander into the kitchen for breakfast. The girls, having been up for 3-4 hours, would be busy doing Bible studies or preparing for the day. I would sit down and Tyna would begin making the coffee for all of us, a french press Starbucks brew. I must invest in a coffee bean grinder and a french press; it is very hard to go back to a machine after you experience these. Erin, then, would begin on making breakfast and we would have a lovely morning of laughs, coffee, eggs and relaxation. I will truly miss these mornings.
From there we would go longboarding behind her house, which is, if you could imagine, a surfboard/snowboard on wheels. You treat the device the same way in that you carve and weave your way down the road as if you were on a ski slope or a wave. We all had a blast sliding through the leaves and carving our way down the smooth roads. Afterwards we would return to the house and relax before going out. The first night we went to go watch Petr and his band play at a club in downtown. It was a mix of rock/dance/pop which was very interesting and nonetheless entertaining. When Petr and his band had finished up we departed for a street that is famous all over the Czech Republic. Two words to describe such a place: two-hundred bars. Of course we didn’t have the time nor the funds to visit all of them but we did venture into a couple to watch the soccer game on TV. It was a relaxing time talking and laughing with everyone. The band is a group of very down-to-earth, friendly guys who love to play music and spend time with friends. Petr especially is a fun person to be around as he is always joking in a reserved sort of manner and is welcoming to new people such as me.
The second day in Ostrava was probably my favorite. We paid a visit to Tyna’s parent’s cottage which is located literally on a hilltop. There is no driveway that leads to it so you are forced to drive up the grassy hill. What I found most interesting about the place is that no further than 50 yards in front of the house there is an old WWII bunker where soldiers would hide in during the bombing raids. It was open for us to venture into, though empty, it was still very interesting. We took a hike in the woods that flank her cottage on almost all sides and returned later in the day to homemade goulash. Hands down best goulash I have ever tasted. It was the perfect mixture of beef and sauce with a small kick of spiciness thrown in there. Afterwards her father offered me a cigar and some wine and we all settled down to watch the Czech National tam play hockey on TV. Needless to say, the day couldn’t have been more perfect.
The final day, Sunday, we woke to our morning routines and had a small worship and Bible study in Tyna’s apartment because the church she usually attends didn’t always have the best translations into English. It was a fabulous time and we went longboarding one last time before we departed Ostrava. I will miss that place and the friends I made dearly because it felt like a small piece of home that I was able to retreat to for a short period of time.
Well, this concludes this episode of There and Back Again, I hope you all enjoyed my weekend as much as I did. Please, continue to stay faithful to the blog and trust that I will update it more often. Till next time!
May the force be with you,