Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tom & Wayne Discuss Things

During our last couple of days in Costa Rica we stayed at a guesthouse. Wayne was staying there long-term and Tom had been renting out the garage for 10 years. This is a re-enactment of the conversations I witnessed. I'm not making this up. In my opinion they were absolutely hilarious and they didn't even know it! You can listen to this movie file or click the link below, download the file and give it a listen. I'd love to know what you think.

download the mp3 by clicking here

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Soap (from Beth)

My hair is still damp and slightly noodley from my shower "experience" this morning. It shouldn't take nearly as long to dry in this crazy arid Texas weather as it did in Costa Rica. It's not silky smooth and it doesn't feel like the angels kissed it with their luscious, morning dew of Spring aromatics or like a waterfall of soft and suppleness flowing like time from my moisture rich follicles. It feels like I washed my hair with a bar of soap. And indeed I did.

Coming back home is always a new experience. Seeing family and friends is what it's all about. It seems like every time we come back I grasp the magnitude and beauty of these relationships more and more. At the exact same time, we never fail to see our culture and country in a critical light. I might call it reverse culture shock for lack of a more descriptive and less generic term, but in reality it stirs up feelings of resentment, anger, frustration and confusion.

Walk into the average American's bathroom and take a look at the body-cleaning products on offer. There's soap in the form of liquid for your hands, but not for your face. For your face you need a special, sensitive formula that won't hurt you, but not for your hair. For your hair you need another liquid soap called shampoo that will revitalize and fluffen. But you cannot forget your conditioner that will inject moisture into the hair you just revitalized (or "vitalize" as one of the shampoos in this bathroom currently claims. No "re" about it). If you don't do this, you will be a flathead. Hence: multiple bottles, pump-action and squeeze, and a few bars lining the shower and sink space like little soldiers.

While traveling, I've been forced to carry less. Shampoo takes up quite a bit of space in your backpack when it's your only piece of luggage. It's true that that space could be better saved for items like: fancy cheese, a piece of bamboo, or an ugly scarf with pictures of African wildlife for your sister.

So we started carrying just a bar of soap for cleaning purposes. What a liberating discovery! Who knew that one bar of soap could clean a whole body?! Well, many people probably knew that. But I didn't. One bar of soap and your done with all the plastic bottles full of promises, your done with a magnitude of waste, your done with the idea that you need to purchase a different product for each part of your body. How great is that?

Really, it's symbolic for me right now. This bar of soap is a simple, uncomplicated idea of what one daily routine could be like, rethought. Take away the options, the consumption, and you have one, old-school bar of soap. And even going beyond hygiene...one bar of soap that you can use on your washing, your house-cleaning, your dishes. How novel! Buying less and using less.

Thank you, soap, for this morning lesson.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What a Sunset

Derek took us over to a lookout point on the farm where the four of us (Derek, Beth, Me and Rach) sat on a car and relaxed to watch our first sunset in Costa Rica. It was gorgeous to look accross the valley and through the mountains to the Pacific.

The Gate and a Truck Full of Manure

I think I posted about the gate for the farm (Fuente Verde) that Beth and I had a big hand in building. All bamboo and beach palm with some bolts and bits here and there. It´s been turning a few heads, literally, as I´ve personally seen 3 cars stop to stare at our creation. Not bragging, it´s just got an unusual look for this area. Generally a gate here consists of a single metal bar across the road or some removeable barb wire. We´re proud of our creation!

Also Derek and I spent a wednesday morning to shovel shit. A whole truck load of horse manure into the back of the farm truck. My shoes were caked. Glad that´s a rare treat.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Zip lining

Loved it! Zip lining this past weekend was so much fun. Here´s the pics and videos from our day. Look at Beth go! And check out that 3-toed sloth we saw on the way. Our guides telescope was awesome!

Ode to Baby Bunnies

This is an ode to the baby bunnies out there--
You and me, we make quite a pair.
Other animals? They just stop and stare...
For you are the littlest and you don´t have much hair.

Now, I have a question for you all...
Why are you so cute and ugly when you are small?
This is a strange phenomena
And now we sing fa-la-la-la-la.

Fa-la-la-la-la, baby bunnies.
Fa-la-la-la-la, sweet, sweet, fuzzy bunnies.

Your eyes are closed so snug and cozy,
With hair and woodchips you´re so toasty.
Your ears look like people´s bellybuttons
And you don´t seem to care bout nuttons...

I graciously thank you for not getting mad
When you were in my hands and a tear I almost shad.
You melted my heart like hot lava...
Oooh, que lindo! Entonces yo cantaba,

Fa-la-la-la-la, baby bunnies.
Fa-la-la-la-la, sweet, sweet, fuzzy bunnies.

Manuel Antonio Trip

We took off last weekend for Manuel Antonio, a nature reserve on the pacific coast a few hours away by bus. Rachel was the catalyst behind the trip and we´re so glad she came up with the idea. The trip down the all dirt 47 km road was a bumpy one, but once we got there we quickly found a little room for us to share for cheap and we hit the beach. The beach was long and gorgeous. Not many tourists yet as it´s still the rainy season and the swimming was great. We had been warned about the rip tides, which seem to be bad all up and down the pacific coast of Costa Rica, but this day the water was warm and we just played in the waves. After that we returned to our room (they call them cabinas here, which sounds way more exotic) via the private path through thick forest/jungle growth for a little rest. Oh, I almost forgot an important part of the story. Along the way we ran into a family from the states who were enjoying their day at the beach: Larry, Joy and their two sons who were about 10. They had been hanging out on the beach for some time before we bumped into them and stopped for a chat. After talking about the weather and what we were all doing in CR, the three (Rachel, Beth, and I) all noticed simultaneously that Larry´s (and I hope I don´t offend anyone with my directness here) penis was hanging out of his zipper! At this point all of our eyes turn to the horizon and we fight back the laughter as Larry goes on about the great apartment they found for cheap and he invites us all to stay with them if we need a place. Then I collect myself and I say, "Hey man, your fly´s down" (an understatement if I´ve ever heard one). And he replies "Oh, that´s pretty exposed there." Who uses that language unless it was totally intentional!? Exposed! You´re darn right it was exposed. And what´s the deal with the wife and kids not giving ol Larry a heads up? No pun intended.

Pretty quickly we declined their offer to room with them and moved on from there. What to do next? After our rest time we checked the guide book and got sucked into spending a fortune on a shit meal at an expensive (prices in dollars) restaurant because the meal came with a free film at the adjoining hotel´s movie theater. Long story short, the film was the worst ever. I´m not against dracula, but this version was terrible. We shivered for two hours being drenched from the rain that fell hard and fast before the meal and left with a few minutes to go in the film. An over priced taxi ride later we couldn´t stop lauging about our run in with larry and how we got suckered by our guide book. And we slept soundly knowing that even the occassional rip off wouldn´t ruin our getaway weekend.

The next day we hit the national park and walked through it´s beautiful trails. Along the way we met 3 sloths, a few monkeys trying to steal bags from the beach, a cayman, a sweet looking lizard (see pic) and had our first dose of tropical forest.

How to Roast a Pepper (Starring Derek)

Derek´s always fun and he knows tons about getting around in the kitchen. Before managing Fuente Verde he was a chef for 14 years. Fun fact for you Oklahomans out there, you might be interested to know that he was at one time the head chef at Sushi in the Raw in Tulsa on Brookside.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Swim Hole

Bethanie and Derek, the farm manager and the cool guy who´s house we´re living in.

David tieing a new knot in the swing.

That´s me striking the frog pose.

For Tiffany´s b'day we headed down the road and off onto a little dirt road to a small beach on the river. It was our first time there. David made a rope swing from bridge and we swam and played. As a lot of you know, I'm a clumsy dude and I did slip on the rocks but managed to turn it into a crazy jump into the water. After slamming my knee on more rocks in the shallow water, I surfaced to clapping and whistling from the people on the shore as they celebrated my aerobatics. Other than that and the scrape that I´ve got to show for it, we had a great time.

A Bit of Nature at Finca Ipe

I took all these pics on the farm. There´s always plenty of coconuts to be foraged for. And that´s a huge gecko that lives in the kitchen of the volunteer house! Those letters are 3-4 inches high!

Rachel and I had fun making this one. I remember seeing these plants before, but never in such numbers. There everywhere!

Ants at Work at Finca Ipe (video)

To best enjoy this vid, turn up the classical music and enjoy. Since being on the farm our appreciation for the details of nature has really increased. I sat and stared at these ants for like 15 minutes trying to get the perfect recording to capture the frenzy. This is the best I could do.

The Bamboo House at Finca Ipe and a Little More

Jaw-dropping is the adjective that springs to mind when I try to describe the bamboo house at Finca Ipe. It's completely open to nature. The entire east side of the house is open. Only a very thin mesh keeps the rain and a few of the more stupid bugs out. Most of the bugs find there way in without much problem. We've got a couple of beautiful golden orb spiders in the kitchen for pest control and other than that it's long sleeves, pants and socks all the time for us. Any ways, back to the house. As the name says it´s a lot fof bamboo. Bamboo supports, wall decorations, tables and chairs, kitchen island and counter supports. And it is shrouded in trees on the edge of the farm. We live with the couple who helps run the farm, Derek and Tiffany. They´re from Colorado and Oklahoma (it´s crazy that they´re from OK and we´re always talking about our favorite restaurants and things). They were in the restaurant biz for 14 years before coming down to the farm and getting away from it all. They've got a 10 yr old son named Gabe who's full of energy and has a great imagination. We also live with Dave, a retiredish dude from Florida seeking some solitude.

From the bamboo house there are trails leading to the yoga hut, where we have yoga three times a week, and other houses. We have been spending a lot of time at the volunteer house lately. Two families of three live there along with Rachel. Rachel is from Canada, along with all the other volunteers there so everyone says hoos instead of house and things like that. We really hit it off with Rachel. She's just a couple years younger than us and she´s just out of college enjoying a trip around central/south america. She´s got a great sense of humor and we hang out all the time. We even went on a weekend trip last weekend with her to Manuel Antonio to check out the beautiful beaches and do some hiking in the tropical forest. We were liucky to see 3 sloths, a bunch of monkeys, a really cool cameleon and a cayman along with some very beautiful nature. Lately the three of us have been relaxing a lot in the evening over rum and cokes. A good way to end a long day.

In the pics you can see Rachel and Beth in the kitchen, a golden orb spider, Tiff making quayle eggs (so rich and you gotta each a bunch to get full. When I eat them I feel like the Flinstones. They´re white with purple blotches.), the goats and the snake that was in the kitchen rafters last week.

Hot Tubbin

While at the Montana Linda, the hostel we stayed at in Orosi, we had a jam session. To me it was a bit of a funny idea at first, because there was only one other person at the hostel at the time along with the two of us and booster. So I thought it would only be like the three of us and the two owners/locals who came up with the idea. Well, that night three people who had been at the hostel the previous weeks and were now in homestays returned and 6 people checked into the hostel for only one or 2 nights. Crazy! So we had a full house. Three guitars. I played a bit of harmonica. Plenty of beer and then we hit the hot tub. It was awesome. It took like 8 hours to heat the thing because the rain water that had been collected had to be pumped through the tubing that coiled in the fireplace before being dumped into the tub and then repeated until the 14 or so of us from Holland, Costa Rica, Germany, Israel and Canada eased into it. Then we all took our turns singing our national anthems before relaxing and just talking the night away. Truly a special night to remember.

Pics from Orosi 2

Here's what´s happening in these pics: That´s us with our Spanish teachers and a picture of the school. For Bethanie´s birthday I gave her a two hour horesback ride through the coffee fields in the valley. It was beautiful. The coffee farms from the Orosi valley are some of the best in the world and we meandered through one of them on our journey. My horse was named Betty and Bethanie's was something like Paloma. And then lastly there´s one of the confused roosters that started sounding the alarm at 2 am!

Pics from Orosi

The first two weeks of our time here in CA were in Orosi, studying Spanish and getting used to things here are some pics of our time there. It´s a beautiful little valley with some of the friendliest people around.

Bhadri´s Take on the Work (a segment of an email to a friend)

You know at first I kept thinking to myself "Damn, I got the worst assignment again." It didn´t matter what the work I was doing was. It could be turning compost or using a machete to shave needles from a beach palm or digging 3 foot post holes. And then something occured to me. Farm work is hard work. I talked to the other volunteers and they would always say things like"You don´t want to get stuck planting this or doing that." And the funny thing was I thought that the other volunteers were lucking out with more enjoyable stuff. But really it´s all grinding and exhausting and the bugs eat me all the time. So now I am enjoying the process of the work much more than just having ticked something off the list, if that makes sense. I'm really working on my patience and at my own pace without worrying about how fast I'm working or when it will get done and finding a lot more pleasure in what I'm doing.

Friday, October 24, 2008

First week on Finca Ipe

we decided to stay in the little town of Orosi and take spanish lessons. They were intensive and after a week we were speaking much better. Beth is doing much better and we´re working hard on the farm now. Farm life is good. We´ve been here for a week now doing odd jobs around the farm in the mornings. Getting up at 5 or earlier is getting easier and easier. So far our jobs have included turning 25 foot long compost piles, cleaning out a water tank, hacking of dead leaves from banana trees with a long piece of bamboo with a blade on the end, and probably the most difficult and most important task for the farm that we´ve done so far was building a bamboo gate for the driveway. Beth and I did it solo and we´re really proud of it. The gate has a thick rectangular bamboo frame held together with screws and that was given to us. We were asked to make the bamboo support beams (5 in all that had to hold up the gate). The catch was that we couldn´t use any screws. So we measured our bamboo, cut it, and then used a hack saw and chisels to carve out each end so that it would fit snuggly between the horizontal frame pieces. Took us about 10 hours over two days. The next thing to do is cut down palm fronds and weave them in between the vertical supports and then mount some wheels before somehow carting the whole thing up the hill and putting it in place. I have never worked so hard physically, but surprisingly I´m feeling good and enjoying the process of things. I had no idea how strong bamboo was!

We´re in the city for the day just running some errands which revolve around finding second hand american clothing that we can destroy working on the farm, the internet, and getting peanuts to make homemade peanut butter. And it just occured to me that maybe a snake bite kit would not be a bad idea either. Last night during dinner a snake of an unknown species (not totally unknown, just to us. we didn´t discover a new species or anything ), at least a meter long was crawling on the bamboo support beneath the tin roof just above the kitchen sink. Oh, did I mention that the house we´re staying in on Finca Ipe doesn´t have front or side walls. The bedrooms do, but the whole house is pretty much outdoors and it´s beautiful. Lots of bamboo and a fantastic feel. Anyways, that should help you to imagine how the snake was moving around so freely. So we flung it down the hill and finished dinner. I asked Derek the owner of the house if they usually killed snakes that came inside. And he was like ¨usually´´, but this one didn´t look threatening enough. Ahhh!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

2 Weeks in Orosi, Costa Rica

Orosi is a beautiful valley of coffee fields and small farms surrounded by mountains. Each morning the sun shines bright and with my pants and rolled up long sleeve shirt I´m sweating early in the day, but I don´t want the bugs to get to me so I´m not giving into the temptation to wear shorts. haha.

We decided not to head to Puerto Viejo after all. It´s funny the way things go, but after calling the number of the hotel that was listed in the book and getting a wrong number, I looked it up on the internet and tried again. That number was wrong too! I couldn´t believe it! And the other hotel listings were more than we wanted to pay, so I didn´t book a room and we decided just to head over there the next day. Well, that night Beth ended up getting ill (don´t worry she´s much better now. probably at 80%. Looks like she had a little bug and maybe some dehydration.) So we ended up staying in the hostel since. So now we´ve been in Orosi for about a week. Not a bad place to be.

Before Beth got sick we took a nice walk through a couple little neighoring towns and did a 6 hour mountain hike that was really beautiful. The trail (really more like a dirt road) was lined with dense jungle along with intermitent coffee fields. The kicker was that after 5 hours the monsoonish rains came. By that time Booster had been in our litle backpack for a few hours. He was just laying in the bottom with his head out the zipper. Imagine that! I put on my rain jacket and it fit perfectly over the bag and my under arm vent that zipped open provided the boy with fresh air without getting a drop of rain on him. So as the rains fell (picture the hardest rains you´ve ever experienced without letting up for hours) we made our way down the mountain and soon the trail turned into a stream. We were getting nervous when it started to lightning. We decided to stop at some sort of large warehouse farmy thing and before we got there we ran into a woman and her like 3 year old daughter walking with only umbrellas (the little girl had her own and wasn´t even holding her mother´s hand. Picture it!). They told us just to head the way we had been going and ignore the 5 inches of water that was rushing down the mountain. And after seeing this girl doing it we figured we could too. So down we went. (As a sidenote, while it was lightning I thought back to our time watching Man Vs. Wild and what he did when it rained. I suggested to Bethanie that we find an open spot and get down just like he did. And she was like,¨Okay, but I don´t think bear was standing in a river when he gave that advice.¨ Oh yeah. Truestory.) We probable spent 10 or 15 min. milling around under some trees for cover hoping the rain would let up before we ran into the woman and her daughter. And then after taking her advice we hit the town 5 minutes later. It was crazy how remote we still felt and really we were only five minutes from town. At this point we got so stoked because of what we felt we had accomplished and we treated ourselves to some take out costa rican food and headed back to the hostel for the night. What fun!

So, now that Beth is getting better but is still not 100% we´ve decided to make the most of our time and we´ve enrolled in a 1'week intensive Spanish course. We´ll start tomorrow and have 3 hour lessons each day and then do a lot of independent study on the side. We are really excited about it, so wish us luck! A few other people at the hostel are taking courses and they warn us that no miracles will happen in a week it is time and money well spent. So we´re stoked.

And by the way speaking of the hostel, right next door to it is a beautiful lot (with fruit trees) for you to buy and retire on. I spoke to the owner yesterday in Spanish and he´s selling 6047 or there about square meters for $50 per meter. So for a little over $300,000 you´ve got a few acres. They will need some irrigation work to prevent all the siting water after the rain and you would have to stop his brother from letting his horses graze there (if that bothers you. They´re actually quite enjoyable to watch and if any animal is going to wake you up with the sounds they make a horse neighing is much better than a cock crowing. Trust me on that. There are plenty of roosters around here and most of them don´t know when the day begins so you hear them from 1 am well into the morning).

Well, we head to the farm to start work on Saturday, Oct. 18. Wish us luck!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Trip to Albert

One of the larger Polish supermarket chains, Albert is known for it's uncommon variety, it's bad produce, and it's infamously bad customer service. Claire, one of our friends from work, has been repeatedly refused tea, tuna and bread upon checking out. The shop lady would scan and reject, scan and reject, matter-of-factly saying something uncomprehendable and shaking her head no. We never could figure out why Claire can't buy these basic items when we've been able to buy them with no problems at the same location. It's just another Polish mystery.

Today we stopped into Albert (bottom floor of the local mall) before work to grab some cherry tomatoes, olive oil, soymilk, and wine. We had to make it to school for an 11am teachers meeting, so we were in a bit of a rush. Got to the checkout line. Five people ahead of us. After 3 minutes we were right at the helm, about to lay our goods on the small counterspace, when the man finishing his purchase immediately in front of us busted his bag of flour. The lady scuffled off to get him a new one, but when she got back we realized she also needed to give him a tax refund (he was a chef in one of the food court restaurants in the mall) or something very paper-worky. Clicking away on her adding machine or whatever it was down the counter towards the vodka sector, she came back 5 minutes later with a long roll of paper for him. Finished, good we can check out. But an old lady in her burgundy beret and matching burgundy wool coat steps up to the counter from the opposite direction, butting in front of us. Ugh, a return! She had three packages of store brand twarog cheese. She had been gipped, ripped off, and she wanted her money back. Another 10 minutes later (not kidding), she gets what she came for. One zloty and 32 cents (that's about 40 American cents, folks) refund. Our shop lady scoots off again to get the man in front of us, who was still waiting at the vodka end of the long counter well after he had received his tax paper, some cigarettes. What addiction will do! Finally, our shop lady, ready to serve her patient customers who had been waiting now for over 15 minutes to check their 4 items out, now presents herself at her register, and not looking up, not raising her eyes, grabs and swipes each item with the utmost boredom iminating from her being, points to the digital total and says "32 zloty." By this time everything was funny. The long wait, the old lady cut-in-line, the cigarettes, but the lack of acknowledgement devoid of the common and expected apology.

It was so perfect, so Poland. Communism died over 18 years ago, but the mentality still remains--even in the most capitalist of places. At least we were able to buy the things we wanted, we checked out and were in the clear--there was no tea-tuna-bread mystery this trip.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Hebrew, Haircuts, & Optometry

I have an exciting first few days of the week laying ahead of me...

Tomorrow morning I have a Hebrew lesson with my amazing new friend Noa. She's been coming over to our apartment at 10am twice a week for the last few weeks. Sadly, she and Jethro--her boyfriend and our other new amazing friend--are leaving Wroclaw for somewhere less "ghost-towny" in the next few weeks. Such is fate. You meet some of the kindest, funniest, most interesting people and you click, and then something happens and they're gone. But we're so glad we met them and have gotten to hang out, watch bad Monty Python, eat vegan food from Berlin, and go hiking. And of course, there's the lessons. It's really given me something to focus on other than work. Since starting lessons every Monday and Wednesday, I have something to look forward to, I feel challenged, and it takes my mind off of teaching for an hour.

I also thought, in my Friday stupor, that I would schedule a hair appointment for 10am Monday, not realizing of course that I had my lesson. My hair has been getting long, especially the region above my eyes (not eyebrows), and I'm beginning to feel like one of those dogs whose hair-genes allow them to survive harsh Winters. Really I just want a bang trim. So I went to the mall (Pasaz Grundwaldzki) and the one hair salon they had, Wella, was booked through the weekend. Not sure how reputable this one is. That's the problem with living in a foreign country: You're not sure if you'll get a Supercuts Choppery or an Aveda salon. The logo was okay, the stylists were young, as were the clientèle, and they had a translator on hand to deal with the influx of English-speaking tourists ready for a new doo (mind you, this is suspicious as we live a good 30 minutes from the tourist center and there are only 3 or 4 native English speakers in our area, so far as we know). But the big neon lights flashing UWAGA (caution) was the 50 zloty price tag. The dollar is about 2.60 to the zloty and this is Supercuts Choppery cheap (sorry to repeatedly knock the Supercuts--I've had traumatic experiences and Bhadri has had sideburns above the ear from them. Never a good thing. Especially at different angles in relation to the lobe). The really good salons charge over 100zl, so it does make me wonder. Although I am never one to turn down a good deal, there's a chance I'll arrive home with a nice and trendy Euro-mullet or severe bangs that were cut by careful trimming with a soup bowl held over my face. Either way, I still double booked and won't be getting my hair cut for a few days. Maybe it's fate's way of guiding me away from bad-haircut-ville and in the direction of linguisticity (this word copy write Bethanie Verduzco 2008).

Also exciting in my life: I'm getting glasses. I really don't have bad eyesight, and the English speaking optometrist told me I didn't have to get glasses. But it is nice to be able to see clearly at longer distances and in low light. At 200zl for the exam, lenses and frames, glasses here are a steal. Of course, if you play it right you can buy a pair of frames for all of 1 zloty, and that can knock the price down a bit. Yes, I found the coolest (read: dorkiest) pair of frames ever. A merge between 1950s and 80s, these light brown with purple iridescence plastic beauties were shunned to the promocja rack. One zloty. That's less than 40 cents American. Poles obviously prefer the hard-lined rectangle look, with thick colored or thin wiry frames, sometimes with the lenses poking out at minute angles. Sounds weird. It is weird. But not as weird as it sounds. They do not prefer shrunken Buddy Holly frames with a purple tinge. Please do not imagine a 3rd grade Bethanie with her forest-green-graze-the-lower-cheek massivities. These are substantially cooler. And I won't be sporting the frizzy perm or the buck teeth to boot. Although I probably will be sporting the unkempt dog and the pasty white skin look. Out with the old, in with the new.

A trip to Torun

Well, it's been a while since the last blog. Beth and I had a couple of weeks off to travel during winter break and we took a small trip to Warsaw and Torun, a city we had never visited before. Nice little German built town. It was pretty cold though. So we walked plenty in the morning and made sure to head to the pub in the mid afternoon to warm up. On our second day there we decided to go to the ginger bread factory. It wasn't much of a factory -- no conveyor belts or loud gushing and whishing machinery, but we did have some fun. We wanted to make some ginger bread. The minimum group that could make it was 5 people. but since it was just the two of us they put us with a class of 3o six-year-olds! It was so much fun. We mixed the ingredients, rolled out our dough and finally put them in the oven to bake. We got a couple of nice souvenirs from the day and some good laughs. You should have seen the little kids -- they were so impressed at the way I crushed the cloves! We tried to talk to a couple of them, but not much could be understood on either end. One did count to ten for us, a surprisingly common experience for us here in Poland. Anyway, check out the picture. Our "guide" doesn't look too happy to be posing with us.