Liberec: My home away from home! Liberec is a city of about 100,000 people and an hour north of Prague. A very beautiful city full of old buildings that used to be owned by Germans until the end of the Second World War, and yet also has a very modern flair with its malls, coffee shops, and fashion stores. I lived here in 2011 for a few months where I taught English to five different schools across the city. I came here learning about this place from a mutual friend in China who also taught here in this town and he just loved it – I met my twin sister Iva (Czech twin that is) at one of the schools and we instantly became best of friends. I got to know her and her boyfriend then, husband now, Michal and have traveled with them every year at least one time ever since! That is amazing considering I sometimes do not see some of my friends in the same town or state in over a year, let alone another country. Our lives are very in sync it seems.
We left Michal’s parents home this morning (and a 5am rooster wake up call – although I quickly fell back asleep) after an afternoon of cherry picking and watching his mother cook jam for the winter (I should have joined in, but she had that under control – she knows what she is doing – see previous post). Then we spent the evening on their balcony overlooking their acres of land and gardens, drinking wine, and talking for hours. This is what I miss the most about the European way of life – no one has their phones at the table or checking them every hour, no one is checking the time, wine is being refilled when your glass is 1/4 empty, and the food (healthy and natural) is overflowing. It was a very beautiful and peaceful moment for me to know this is how I want to live my life. Truly connecting with people, asking questions (something that is often lost), getting to know them, talking about the past/present/future, and laughing/talking the night away without a care in the world that I am ‘missing out’ on the internet side of life or thinking something else is more important than that person (or people) right in front of me. Now, trust me, I am very guilty of checking my phone and doing such things, but I am already finding myself not doing this as much (or caring to) and posting when a fun update is needed…and when I am alone (literally typing this at 1 o’clock in the morning because I do love to share and also check your updates)!
Now…. Michal’s mother can speak a little English and his father not at all – although he informed Iva that I am the first live American he has ever touched! (What? is right but he meant because of the war…. that became real very quickly) Iva and Michal get tired of translating I am sure so it was a night of gestures, guessing, and laughter. Such a hilarious and beautiful time. I showed them pictures I took of their village – we are going to make a book for them. And then a video I made of the Disney adventures with Michal and Iva (posted soon as well). I love when those things bring us all together. The, they brought out those classic photo albums and showed me pictures of Michal growing up as a young lad – from blonde curly hair to a retro mullet (in the 90s) to a short brownish style cut these days – it was just like me growing up! Especially the mullet hairdo. We are all the same in so many ways… that is the best part for me exploring other cultures. I love seeing the differences but I also love being reminded that kids are kids, and mullets are mullets.
We celebrated Iva’s father’s birthday today with a family lunch/dinner in their backyard, her dachshund dog Caspy, Czech chats all around that I am determined to learn by Christmas, seeing Iva and Michal’s new home that will be ready in September (it’s so modern and GORGEOUS!), and a walk in the city at dusk.
Side note: I love her grandmother. See below. She is the epitome of sweet grandmother isn’t she (just like mine)? I am so thankful to be back here in this region and to truly build my life here – it is going to be a great life adventure that has already begun. More on HOW to do this and make this happen in a near future blog post because while my circumstances have allowed me to do this, most anyone can. I promise you that.
Takeaway for today: Enjoy those for real conversations and ask questions with your phone out of sight, drink some wine (or decaf tea), learn a few fun Czech phrases (because why not), and get home safely. These simple key things will change your life for the better.