Unlike my previous street corner experience, we had a rather pleasant encounter the other day. It was our first day in Munich, and we were just getting oriented with the neighborhood around the hotel. It was 20:00, and we noticed that there was hardly anything open. We were trying to find a grocery store or corner market to pick up a few things since we actually had a fridge at our disposal in the room. Well, we walked down one side and around the corner and were just going to give up when we decided to walk to just to the end of the street. We got to the corner and looked around. Nothin’. We talked about giving up and turned back towards the hotel, when an older lady stopped us with a, “Do you need some help?” in perfectly American English. Our American accents had stopped her.
I was tongue-tied, but Charity piped up and asked if anything was open. The lady laughed and said, “Goodness, no, nothing’s open after 8!” She made a few suggestions, especially giving up on restaurants as they were too expensive and said, “just go to McDonalds!” We laughed some more, and she commented on how things used to close at 6:30 when she first arrived in Munich 11 years ago. It apparently was a big deal when they decided to extend to 8pm! Ok, I swear not to use this word too much, but how “quaint”! I guess “blue laws” are alive and well here in Munich. She also advised that nothing would be open on Sunday (after Charity referred to Austrian Sundays). Basically, forget about it.
So I finally asked where she was from, and you’ll never guess… she’s from MAUI. Ha!! Talk about serendipity. Not only had we met a kind soul on this random street corner, she is kama`aina. I mean, she coulda been from Boise, and I woulda been happy to connect with another American, but heck, from HAWAI`I? Really?? Wow, small world. She’d come to Europe a decade ago looking for adventure and fell in love with a German in London. Cool.
I am thanking the Universe for random moments like that one. Out of all the street corners and people in the Nymphenburg neighborhood, we ran into just the right person at exactly the right moment. I am grateful for the randomness.
We’re getting so excited about our upcoming vagabonding experience around Europe. We just bit the bullet and bought our airline tickets last night. We fly from Seattle on July 7th and return to Seattle on February 15th – just in time for the Olympics in Vancouver. Seven and a half months living out of a backpack – should be a memorable experience!! Emphasis on memorable – there’ll be no souvenirs! 😉
Our first hotel is in Amsterdam – it’s trendy and most importantly cheap. It’s called the Qbic – okay – truth be told, I was wooed by the multi-colored lighting options. We’re trying out the welcomerewards “stay 10 nights and get one night free” deal with Hotels.com – depending upon how we book in the future, it could really pay off for us – they limit you to 10 free nights in a year so that’s my goal. 😉
It’s really starting to become more real. I’m excited and scared all at once. Trying to nail down all of the things we need to take with us (but not too much)… ah…balance….
Spending such a long amount of time in Hawai`i after being away for three years has been a wonderful, grounding experience. It has reminded me of all of the things I love about the ‘āina, the people, and the sense of ‘ohana that is so dominant in this beautiful land. On Sunday we enjoyed the best picnic dinner ever – after swimming at Ko Olina, we had a Zippy’s bento box while the sun went down over the ocean – can’t beat that!
We’ve been catching up with old friends we haven’t seen in years. Inevitably, we are asked if we’re thinking of moving back to the islands. I have to admit, the prospect is intriguing. BUT – we have a few requirements for our next semi-permanent residence – it must have efficient public transportation, strong environmental support systems, and be a bike friendly city. Unfortunately Honolulu doesn’t have any of these. There are no bike lanes to speak of and like Seattle, they have been arguing about the installation of a train system for twenty years. Yes, they too have spent millions of dollars studying the prospect and have gotten exactly no where. More central to our decision, however, is the total and complete lack of environmental support. Homes do not have curbside recycling and the center at the middle school up the road only recycles paper, no mixed use or plastic items, no phone books, no food packages. We rant almost daily about the fact that we live on an island and yet they make it very hard to do the right thing.
In the first few days of our arrival, we had a jarring experience that reminded us that we are no longer in Bellevue. The neighbors who just bought the house next door and were preparing to spend their first night in their first home experienced a robbery – a break in that stripped them of their precious possessions. He and his pregnant wife are teachers and were gone when it happened at 9:30 in the morning – while we were home next door working with all of the windows open. We never heard anything and had no reason to investigate the house to make sure everything was okay. Once I got past the horror of their first experience in their new neighborhood, all I could think of is that “we’re not in Bellevue anymore”. Today they installed a home security system and I’m so glad they did, it’s just too bad it had to come to that.
After being away for so long, it’s easier to be objective about my adopted home. I see all of the good and all of the beauty and keep that close while acknowledging the parts I might wish would change. This begs the question – should I wait for someone else to make a difference or should I endeavor instead to be a part of that change?
Eyes wide open….
It wasn’t until the plane turned away from Rainier heading west that it hit me– I was gonna miss this place. It’s been almost eight years since we packed up our lives and, on a whim, risked everything for a brand new start in the great Pacific Northwest. Naivete served us well as we left one struggling economy for another in the aftermath of the DotCom Bust of 2001. And if I could, MayleneNow would thank MayleneThen for the incredible experiences, friends, and success.
Now, we’re off on another adventure, ready for new experiences and to make new friends along the way. I hope you’ll follow along with us and perhaps provide your own insights and advice.
E komo mai– welcome!!