“In spite of everything, we made it to Germany!”
That’s the first thing I thought when I wheeled my luggage cart, cat perched precariously on top, towards the Ausfahrt (exit) where Nick was waiting. The trip itself hadn’t been too bad- no one had given me any grief about the cat, and she’d been calm except when I left her field of vision to go to the bathroom- and now we were HERE. Here, where for the first time in almost six months I could hug Nick, give him a kiss, and even hold his hand. All the exhaustion I was feeling- it was about 3 AM in Philly and I’d been up since eight the day before- melted away in the excitement. I couldn’t even feel exasperation at the fact that the customs official had ignored the cat’s paperwork- after all that research!- and waved us through with a bored glance.
An hour and a half on the Autobahns (highways) later, we had arrived in our tiny hamlet of a town. Nanzdietschweiler, like many of the small towns in the region, is a relatively recent addition to the local environment. It boasts two small pubs and a bank, the rest of the town being homes, and is nestled in the hilly countryside in a U shape across a small river valley. Our apartment- a beautifully constructed garden basement- is part of a house that sits near the crest of one of the town’s hills. When we took a brief walk in the early afternoon, standing in the thin snow of the hilltop, we could see practically the entire town from that vantage point. Our walk through the town barely took us twenty minutes.
It being a Sunday, and Sundays being a day where everything is closed in the area, we were able to have a quiet day in without feeling any guilt for not going off and doing some elabourate local exploration. We opted to make a tomato and basil soup for dinner, which proved to be adventurous enough. Tomato juice, an essential ingredient in the soup, is not purchased in cans or even from the same part of the grocery store as other tomato-based products, and the supplies Nick had purchased on Saturday turned out to be several cartons of diced tomatoes. Furthermore, there is no blender in our apartment- also something required for this recipe- and when I suggested that I bring our blender over from the States when I moved, Nick pointed to the apartment’s electrical outlets. Of course! I’d forgotten that European buildings operate on a different voltage than North American ones, and the plugs are completely different. In order to use our American blender, we would need a transformer and an adapter.
By the time 8:30 rolled around, I was falling asleep on my feet. The week was going to be packed with a different sort of tourism than what I was accustomed to doing- we had made plans to try shopping for bedsheets, spend a day in Frankfurt, possibly get me a job interview, and go grocery shopping in the next few days- and to top it all off, a friend of mine from undergrad was going to visit us at the end of the week. It seemed like everything was going to be radically different than I was used to on fancy European vacations…but after the emotional stress of the past few months, I was ready to sit back and enjoy it. As we put our “zombie shields” down for the night (more on those later), I realized something strange. After only a day in Nanzdietschweiler, after having spent comparatively little time outside the apartment, I felt more hopeful about feeling at home here than I’d felt since leaving Montreal.