DAY 39, JUNE 25
(MATT) The Mrs. woke us up at 8 a.m. and said, "Breakfast?" As my mind cleared for the most part, I had the mental awareness to say, "Shower first." She said, "Yah, yah," which I took as a yes. As breakfast began (without Heather and Ulrich, who had the good fortune of still being asleep.) The happy couple bustled around the kitchen and loaded the table full of food. The Mrs. finally sat while the husband continued to find things for us to eat. The Mrs. told us that when he woke up that morning, he had asked her several times, "How many boys? How many girls?" He couldn't remember how many of us he had drug home and partied with last night. She was laughing and kept saying, "He still tipsy." To which he simply roared, "NO!!" Let me say that he wasn't falling down, slobbering, toilet-hugging drunk--which is why he probably brought us, the first visitors ever, home with him.
We ate, and ate, and ate, and ate. (And drank about six cups of coffee.) We had sausage and eggs (probably what he meant by ham and eggs,) potatoes, bread, and alot more of last night's snack food. We ate and drank 'til I thought I'd pop. We had them laughing pretty good with one liners and jokes. For example, The Mr. was encouraging us to drink milk, telling us with sign language that it keeps you awake, and I mentioned that coffee makes you really awake. I guess it loses something in the translation. Anyway, the point I was driving at is that its not wise to joke if you're not sure what you are saying. Let me tell you why.
We were asking why their son Ulrich was still single at 29 years old. They said its because the German girls are liberated and have jobs and don't like to cook. We joked that maybe Heather could cook and he could marry her. Some how we got on the subject of souvenirs and I said maybe we'd leave Heather behind as a gift. The Mrs. asked what can I give you (I thought) and I said, "You've already given me this," as I grabbed my stomach, "that's enough of a souvenir." We all laughed at the joke. But later we found out that we might have been or should I say, we definitely were laughing at different jokes. We found Mass without the family who didn't go and made our way back to our temporary refuge.
It was there we found Heather and Ulrich having breakfast together. We found out shortly after that Heather was a little miffed at me. This is why joking by symbols and half communication is dangerous. The Mrs. had told our joking to Heather. We are not sure if the Mrs. misunderstood us or Heather misunderstood the Mrs., but it was a dangerous misunderstanding. Heather thought that I had said she and Ulrich were still upstairs because she was getting a German souvenir. I was confused as said, "That doesn't sound right, what did she mean?" Heather then held her belly and acted as if she were with child. Suddenly all became clear and after a brief moment of realization, Chris and I protestingly defended me. We explained what had occurred. I think Heather took it as if we thought she was cheap, shall we say, because of a discussion about refraining from sexual activity that Heather, Jon, and I had had. (Jon and I argued for sex only in the context of marriage--just in case you were wondering.) Heather seemed satisfied with the explanation, so life went on in our now co-ed community.
We sat on the back porch of the family and talked about their heritage and how both of the parents' fathers had been killed in WWII fighting for Hitler. Their mothers were Germans in Czek and had to relocate back into Germany after the war. Then we took some pictures and they took all of our addresses and phone numbers--so we can never escape. Then they gave us a book on their town, and two bier steins. Remember, it's polite to accept. So Jon gave them a cross he had been carving and Heather gave them a picture of herself in Greece (odd; just goes to show you... ) Then we went to visit their town (of 250,000) with Ulrich.
Augsburg had more bridges than Venice Ulrich proudly told us. "But where are all the gondolas?" we retorted. Maybe they were numerous, but the bridges were pretty uneventful. They were sort of like the street with water under them. In fact, it was hard to tell what the difference between bridge and street was. Oh well, I'll not rob them of every claim to fame. There probably are more bridges than Venice and I went there to see it; so should you... unless you have something better to do. Anyway, like I said, I won't rob them of every claim to fame.
We went to the Cathedral which has the "oldest stain glass windows in the world." They were small and high up, but from where we were, way down on the ground, they looked like stain glass and they very well could have been old. Maybe even the oldest in the world. So go see them--I did. We also walked down the main street after having seen the Basilica of Afra and Ulrich (Patron of our tour guide for the day.) Afra was a Christian martyr in 304 A.D. and her grave had been venerated for hundreds of years by monks and pilgrims until the church was built. Not to say that after the church was built the monks left and the pilgrims stopped coming. That didn't happen 'til later. You might be wondering why it's named Afra and Ulrich. That's because Ulrich was a bishop who died and was canonized--is that good enough for you? These things and more I explained to Heather upon whom the effects will never be known in this life.
Then, further up the Romantic Strabe. (After an ice cream and a goodbye to Ulrich who gave me his snuff.) We had some pretty heated discussions up the Romantic Road which is what made the road as interesting as it was. Without Heather's views on life, we probably would not be here today. All I'm trying to say is that the Romantic Road was pretty much like every other road. We might have fallen asleep and crashed the car with only the romance of the road to kindle our fires. I, of course, am exaggerating to make dramatic the point that the road was much like every other road. It was also raining some of the time. We argued about Columbus, the inappropriateness of Thanksgiving "because it is a myth perpetuated as truth to children," a point we did not easily concede... or, for that matter, ever concede.
Chris made Heather angry by saying continually America is number 1, top of the heap, the best, and there is nothing wrong with that. They finally compromised that other countries are better that USA in some things. We finally stopped, all of us agreeing that to eat and to use the woods as a W.C. are good things. Then, after some bread, cheese, onion, Nutella, fruit, and ice tea, we pushed into Rotenburg.
We arrived in early evening and Jon tried to call Barry Kramer and I our friend Andrew Venderhelm Youngblood, the Legendary Dutch Mystic and unofficial Quad Father Fall '92 - Spring '93, choir member, Legion of Mary dropout, life-long student, and current seminarian in Rolduc, Netherlands whom we hoped to visit the last days of our trip. Unfortunately, neither of us got through.
(JON) We all climbed up the rampart walls to a cat walk that went around the castle
(MATT)city. We walked along the battlements for quite awhile laughing and joking with Heather. We decided to get down off the battlements after many happy moments of our carefree antics. We went down into the town and went, almost immediately right back out of town to the local fair raging right outside the fortress walls. We walked through, bought some German lollipops and went back into the city again. We walked around and ended up sitting on an overlook singing songs. It was fun, but we sounded really bad (see Heather's reference about not quitting our day jobs.) We did have a good time, though, and hopefully we didn't "wake the dead" or cause any locals to have a vendetta against Americans.
As the sun was setting, we decided to take a walk that Rick Steves had suggested out of the fortress into a little village that was supposed to be even older than Rothenburg. Since we had no map and no idea where we were in the city, or for that matter where we could find the walking trail, we simply began walking. We ended up walking down below the city along the river--which really stunk. After filming ourselves doing things we would normally not do if we were to ever see these people again (never mind the fact that since its on film, our families and friends for generations will be able to laugh at us when ever they pop on a tape.) We walked back up to the city and found a youth hostel where we hoped to spend the night. It was full and rather expensive so we decided to begin our drive to Rolduc (Andrew) and camp on the way.
Only one problem: what can we do with Heather? She was quite surprised that we were thinking of slipping out of Rothenberg that night. She told us that she didn't have enough money to stay in a hotel (since the hostel was full--actually, she didn't even have enough to stay in the hostel.) We didn't want to ditch her because, if it weren't for us, she would have made it to Prague before her money and Euro-rail ticket ran out. So we decided, after some brief brainstorming to camp outside of the city with Heather then drive her back to Rothenberg in the morning. (She did have a train ticket from Rothenberg to Munich to Prague--where she had an apartment.)
So we went to a campground, set up camp, cleaned up, and sat and talked to our little Heather for a little longer. Eventually, we all went to bed. Heather slept in Sam's sleeping bag, in the car, without Sam, of course.