Sunday, October 22, 2006

Loving some Lithuania

I'm not sure where I left off, but the important part is that Friday Lan and I left Budapest on a plane, stopped in Prague, then headed to Vilnius, where Casey met us at the airport. I met a nice guy on the plane who gave us a little LT history before we actually arrived, and he taught me how to greet properly, "Labas". We were the last ones to get through customs and were slightly slowed when the man asked me if I had health insurance. I looked at him like, "why the heck do you need to know, what is supposed to happen to me?" lol. But thankfully I had gotten an ISIC (international student card) before I left, which includes travel health insurance. Lan happened to carry her card, so we were set. Then homeboy wants to know why we're visiting. I figured the "nunya" that I wanted to throw at him might not be appropriate. So after telling him that I was here to visit a friend and that Lan was here to visit MY friend, we made it through.

Casey and I both tried to hide from each other as the distance between us shortened, but I saw him and he saw me, and I bout ran over the lady in front of me so I could give him a hug. He actually greeted us both with a rose, which he informed us was a typical Lithuanian custom. We got a taxi and headed to the hostel Casey had reserved for the night. We had a blast catching up, cutting up, and then letting Casey and Lan get to know each other and share laughs about me. lol. I'm used to it. I think I actually helped them with material.

The next day we checked out Vilnius before we headed to Klaipeda on a bus. Vilnius was neat and much different than the capitol of Hungary. Casey, of course, gave us cultural stats, historical facts, and the best tour available before we had to book it to the station. We all slept most of the trip and finally arrived at our destination around 4:30 in the afternoon. It was a short trip to Casey's flat from the bus station. His apartment is very cool. I was impressed to see how modern his place looks. Once we got our stuff settled, we headed to meet some peeps. Our first stop was the dorms. I was so pumped about meeting Vlad, one of Casey's students. After hearing so much about the kid and how cool he was, I felt like I knew him already...which was actually the phenomenon with most of the people I got to put faces with here. Vlad and Nan, a girl student from Thailand, were both cool and exactly as I had expected. We didn't stay long, but just ran through to say hi.

After that, we headed to the Soks' (pronounced Soaks) apartment to go to dinner together. Pisey (pronounced Pee-say, he's Cambodian) and Rebecca had just returned from the LCC spiritual life retreat. Once again, it was like meeting acquaintances that I already knew. lol. They said the same. We all headed to eat supper at this Mediterranean restaurant, Sinbado Oaze, where they had hookahs, the big bong-looking lamp-type things with a rope that you smoked flavored water through. lol. Very strange. We didn't take part but watched in amusement. I had hummus for the first time and was pleasantly surprised that I liked it. There was quite a communication breakdown between the waitress and our table because not only did we never receive the extra pitas we requested, but they never even brought Pisey's food! When we asked her about it, she asked if we were sure we hadn't received we had it hiding under the table or something...right. But the food was the bomb despite the annoyance of the intermittent belly-dancer. lol. Fun times in the LT.

We headed back to their apt. to watch movies, share stories, and drink "Mint Juleps", this bombin' green chocolate shake that Casey named that Rebecca makes. It was a good night, then we headed home.

Casey's flat is freezing because the city hasn't decided to turn on everyone's heat yet, so Lan and I were both bundled under our own blanket on Casey's bed while he slept on his couch. And I must say, Casey's definitely given some of the Hungarian men a run for their money on the chivalry category this weekend. What a great host.

For the first time in a month, I got to go to church today! We went with Casey to his church where they speak Lithuanian but provide translation for those who speak English or Russian. I got to meet so many of his coworkers and friends here. We met the Soks again for lunch and then headed to the Curonian Spit, where the Baltic Sea touches Lithuania. With Klaipeda being the only port in Lithuania, there were a million cranes along the water. We rode the ferry across praying not to get bombed by gull-dung and then walked to the side of the sea. The harbor's on one side, the sea's on the other.

The beach was beautiful. Cold, but so peaceful. I loved it.

This afternoon we headed to a couple's home name the Hoelterhoffs. I loved Kim. She's from Chicago and so full of personality. They have three beautiful children, and I got to have the youngest one sleep on me for at least the majority of my time there. Pics to come. There were many of the ex-pats there, all of us preparing food and getting ready to watch LOST. It was so much fun. These people are great. I can definitely sense a community there.

We left that house with Andrew Stave, husband of Kim, Casey's boss. They also have a beautiful child, Yieva, which translates Eve in English. We talked to them forever about healthcare, pharmacy, cultural differences, and accents. lol. Kim said mine was thick and funny...which cracked me up when thinking of my family and how much worse theirs is than mine. But the Soks and the Staves are both from Oregon, so they can't say "bag" or "beg" any different, but other than that, I guess we're the oddballs. lol.

I'm so glad I got to see Casey's life here. I can see where I or most of our friends could learn to love it here. Except for the Soviet influence and the occasional skinhead, Klaipeda's cute and cozy. It's also been great to see Casey and catch up. I'm sad to leave tomorrow, but I'm getting ready to wrap things up. I miss my fam, and I feel like there's so much work with residency research and CV preparation that I need to get on top of when I get back. But I still plan on soaking up all I can for the rest of my trip. Only about 10 days left. I know there are still adventures to come.


Anna said...

It was so great to finally talk to you, even just for a minute. Sounds like Casey gave you the grand tour - I'm glad you got to meet everyone. Can't wait to see pictures! Enjoy the rest of your time in Hungary.

Anonymous said...

i'm glad to hear that you had such a great time so far!!! i can't wait to see all the pics and hear more stories! i can't believe you didn't partake in the hookah lounge!lol!~leela

Anonymous said...

yea lady! im so glad you got to see casey! sounds like you and lan are having a blast!! cant wait to see ya and hear more about everything! miss ya!

Daron said...

I don't know what you're talking about. I ain't got an accent! Haha. You know I don't talk hick, but I am proud of my southern accent! I know you're having a blast, but I can't wait until you get home! Love ya!

Anonymous said...

I am jealous...I drive in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee everyday while you are traveling over there. Not fair! I don't understand why you didn't smoke the flavored water from a bong like thing?? Ha! I love you girl and can't wait to be able to talk to you!!! Enjoy the rest of your trip!