Wednesday, January 25, 2012

RHETO Extravaganza: 13/1/2012



     My correspondent woke me up and we ate breakfast together. Lucia's grandparents gave me a ridiculous amount of food again; like the other mornings since my arrival. I reflected that I was lucky because, at least, I would not starve. We rushed to finish preparing for the day because my Belgian teachers, and a few Slovakian teachers, planned to take the students to the vineyard in Hungary.
     A tour guide showed us the areas where the grapes were grown and the cellar in which various wines were stored. The smell was incredibly strong and foul. Mold covered the walls of the cellar. I was indifferent to the atmosphere, on the other hand, my opinions were short-sighted because the bacteria from the mold made the wine more delectable. At the end of our tour, the owners poured everyone a glass of white wine, another glass, then encore a different one. While I waited my turn to buy a bottle for my host parents, my teacher, Monsieur Jacquemin, grabbed the Slovakian french teacher and started dancing. People's attention was drawn toward them the instant Monsieur Jacquemin and the teacher swirled together in some kind of waltz or ball room dance. On the bus people were acting strange as well. My classmates on the upper lever of the double decker bus were singing and jumping around.
      We did not return to the Slovakian school until 2-3 o'clock in the afternoon and I happily ate the cafeteria spaghetti. Promptly after lunch the Slovakians and Belgians competed against each other in basketball, volleyball, and soccer. The first game of the girls basketball was intense. The game was close, however, the Slovakians came out as the winning champions. A fuss rose among the crowd and apparently the score keepers cheated, so the game was counted as a no contest. I felt the game was unfair in the manner it ended. The other games went more smoothly. The Belgian boys cheered for our team the duration of the games. Every time I heard them chant or dance I was reminded of the girl cheerleaders in my high school back in Wisconsin. The noise was overwhelming in the small gym like any live sports game.
     The Belgians also performed a dance routine and sang in the gymnasium. I did not dance - I am not the waltzing type -  on the contrary, I sang as was required from each Belgian student. Some of the songs were belted with much enthusiasm and grace; I can't say the same for the grand finally. The beginning to the last song started out strong, then the last phrase got jumbled up. Monsieur Jackmann did not teach us how the song finished, leading to catastrophe. The boys were still playing the guitar and the teacher did not stop singing, while all the students stood together confused and silent. The Slovakians watched with much amusement as we awkwardly ended our chorus sectional.
     Lucia took me to her place when she finished participating in the girls basketball game. We discussed communism and the effects of a dictatorship. My correspondents dad watched hockey with me then was going to drive Lucia and I to a local dance club. On my way out the door I accidentally said, "до свидания" instead of "dovidenia." My correspondent's family were instantly agitated. They explained to me that the pronunciation for goodbye in Slovak was close to that of goodbye in Russian; it caused them to be angry because they dislike the Russians, since the time when they imposed communism on their country. Currently, Slovakia is independent of Russia, but the Russians left a strong mark on Slovakian history. With courtesy they forgave me; I was relieved, but I decided not to resort to Slovak again to avoid another disaster.
     The father of my correspondent dropped Lucia and me off and we walked to the dance club called "Exit." We stood in line for a half and hour to deposit our coats at an office in the building before we could get on the dance floor. During the time when I was dancing with my friends, a stranger grabbed me and started to dance raunchy with me. I pulled away from him and walked off the dance floor. I felt violated and disgusted with his obnoxious behavior and by the manner in which he touched me. As I streamed through the crowd, trying to find my correspondent, the lights suddenly went out and the music came to an abrupt stop. Darkness flooded my vision and I could not see anything or anyone. Cries of exitement and terror filled the room. The lights came back on and I continued my search for Lucia. We met up eventually and walked toward the office where we left our jackets. Many other people had the same idea, due to the episode with the lights, and flooded toward the same office. We had to wait even longer than before because people were panicking as the lights switched on and off. Lucia said some bad people came to the club who were causing the commotion. I did not know what to expect as the night became stranger and more dangerous. We finally got out of "Exit" and went to the bowling ally we were at the other day.
     My friends came and greeted me as I entered the building. To my dismay, they were already drunk from the cheep beer at the bar. They were a mess with their: slurred speech, befuddled comments, and swaggering manner in which they moved. To this day, I still have never been drunk and my friends reminded me why. I felt uncomfortable by the way my friends were abusing alcohol, instead of using it responsibly; so I walked away. At the bar I bought a soda and met a stranger who lived in a small town in Slovakia near the bowling ally. We discussed American, Belgian, and Slovakian economics. He complained that the wages in Slovakia were not sufficient; I replied that, due to the lower costs of consumption goods, the price rates of the vocational Slovakians were sufficient enough to live as comfortably as in any other country: maybe even more so. In my opinion, his main goal was to use his excuse to avoid paying for beer for his girlfriend and Belgian guests.
     The conversation was starting to get more interesting when my correspondent came to retrieve me to go back to her grandparents house. On our way toward Lucia's dad's car, we were drawn by a melody of a cell phone. Lucia gave the cell phone to her dad and he called the number of the owner, which was listed on its contact list. The women of the cell phone complained that she desperately needed her phone, but Lucias dad said he would give it to her later that day, since it was already one am.
     My extent of my journey went out to Hungery, where I watched my drunken teacher dance; to Lucias school, where I watched the Belgians and Slovakians compete in sport matches; and to the dance club and the bowling ally, where I met many strange people. Even though my day was not perfect I managed to have a great time with my correspondent and with my classmates. My friends and teachers showed me many cultural and intellectual places, at which I saw people and things that could not exist in my life within my hemisphere of Belgium and America.

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