Wednesday, August 27, 2008

An Eventful Evening

Sunday evening a bunch of us went to visit our friend Zuzka who lives in another village about 45 minutes away by bus. The majority of the evening was low-key, relaxing, and fun. We grilled out, walked to the Danube, and watched the sunset.

All was fun until the ride home. Two Slovaks drove to Zuzka's house, so they offered to take us home. I rode with Jan, the driver, Jon and Maika, who had been in Slovakia for only a week now. This sounded great until about 5 minutes from our apartment.

We saw a police car motioning cars to pull over to the side of the road. There was already one car in front of us that was stopped. The policeman walked over to the driver's side window and asked for the driver's papers. Jan gave him his papers. Then the policeman administered a breathalyzer. (Slovakia has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving) I began to get worried after the first time Jan took the test and the policeman made him take it again. I was sure that he hadn't been drinking and worried that something was wrong. It took him three tries before the test was complete. He passed.

All was well except the policeman said Jan was missing a certain paper and said it would cost 2000 crowns (100 dollars). This must be paid on the spot. Jan said he didn't have that much money, so the policeman said 500 crowns would be enough. Jan didn't have that much either, but the rest of us in the car pitched in to help.

After the policeman left, we all suspected it was bribe money.

Okay, we figure, that's over, let's just go home. So Jan tries to start the car, but no luck. He tries again and again and again. No go. So the policeman comes over. "Good," we think. "He is going to help us." Not quite. Jan tells him what is wrong and the policeman walks away, gets in his car, and drives away.

Then the conversation Jan and I were having before we were pulled over popped into my mind. Somehow we got onto the topic of the main things wrong with Slovakia. Jan said there were three things: education (this may be wrong but that's not the point), health care, and the judicial system. Oh the irony, I thought.

So, everyone except Jan gets out of the car to push the car, hoping that this will help the car start. We were running and pushing as fast as we could, but again no luck. Finally, we found a side street and a parking spot. Jan said he would have his dad get it towed in the morning.

As we were walking back to our respective apartments, I said to Maika, "You know we set this whole thing up just to scare you." Things seemed to work as if they were set up, but we surely didn't set them up. Strange how events happen in relationship to one another. What are the chances that we get randomly pulled over, Jan doesn't have the correct papers, the policeman bribes Jan, Jan's car won't start, the policeman won't help so we have to push it? Any of these events could have happened differently on any given day. Well, Sunday night, the odds didn't matter.

Thus Begins Another Year

Well, I took the summer off from blogging, but now I am back in Slovakia, ready for another year.

I left last Thursday afternoon from Lansing, MI, and I arrived 18 hours later on Friday afternoon. I didn't sleep much on the plane but was out for about a half away. I considered this an accomplishment. Nine hours is a long time to be on one plane if you can't sleep. I flew United and was disappointed in their movie selection. United is a little behind other airline companies as far as technology for movies is concerned. I had a screen to myself, but I could not start and stop the films as I have been able to on other airlines. Oh well, at least they fed me twice.

This past weekend was spent settling back in and meeting up with old friends and making new friends. School begins next week but this week is teacher's planning week. I am excited to see the students again and get back into the classroom.