1 July 2
July 3 July
4 July 5-8 July
7 July 8
9 July 11
July 12 July 15 July
18 July 20 July
21 July 22
July 23 July 24July
25 July 26
30 July 31
Heidelberg Shesaplana ChiemseeAmsterdam Accra Johannesburg Perth Kuala Lumpur Auckland Fiji
July 1, 2001
By the time I left the lab on Friday evening, everyone else had gone. About 5:30 p.m. I came home and went for a run. It
takes me about 10 minutes to run to the second bridge to the east across the Neckar, which is probably about 1 1/4 miles or so away. That is a small improvement over Thursday when it took me 20 minutes 30 seconds and today I did it in under 20 minutes!
After I came back from my run, I changed
clothes and decided to eat at "Fritz," the grill which is located adjacent
to the guesthouse.
A lot of foreigners hang out there, as one might imagine. I saw one of the Japanese who I had met at the Sommerfest on Thursday night. His name is Shuji and he is a post-doc in physical chemistry from Yamaguchi the town which is also in Yamaguchi the prefecture . Since he was eating alone I asked if I could join him, and I think he was happy for the company. Shuji has been in Germany for about two years now and will
probably stay another half year or so. He would like to get a permanent position in a Japanese company, but is not sure if he will be
able to find one.
We were speaking in German for about 15
minutes, when I remembered to ask if he could speak English. He told
me that English is
much easier for him than German, so I asked, "Why are we speaking German!?" I guess it's sort of natural to speak the language that
we were using when we first met at the Sommerfest, but after we switched to English the rate of conversation picked up considerably.
Shuji's father is a retired professor of
organic chemistry and his mom is a housewife and teaches flower arranging.
He told me some
interesting things about the differences between Germans and Japanese and also about their similarities. He thinks that one of the
chief similarities is that they are likely to obey rules. If someone says that something is forbidden, most Germans and most Japanese
won't do it. One of the major differences is in the likelihood that Germans will freely speak their opinion and Japanese are much less
free to express their opinion.
I turned on the TV after I got back from
dinner (poor Shuji was headed back to the lab to work -- on Friday night!)
and there was a
very strange movie on ARD. It was a sequel to the Sound of Music. Did you know there was a sequel? I didn't see the name of the
movie, but I think it was made in German and not dubbed. It did not have Julie Andrews in it and it was probably made a pretty long
time ago. The basic story is this, The Von Trapp family comes to New York where they are living in a slum and trying to find a agent
to hit it big. The dialog is nearly all in German, except the Americans speak English and someone always translates. The movie did a
nice job portraying a family living in a country where they don't speak the language very well. Anyway, in the sequel the Von Trapps
have 8 children, including a baby (or did the baby make nine?). Once they got an agent and went on the road, they had a German speaking, Irish immigrant driver who spoke pretty bad German with a huge Irish accent. It was a pretty funny movie.
On Saturday morning, I walked downtown
to do some grocery shopping and pick up a few things that I needed.
I took the camera and took pictures along the way. In the afternoon,
I walked around the Altstadt a bit and took some more pictures. Here
are a few. If you want to see larger versions of the same pictures,
click on them:
From left: University of Heidelberg Guest House;
running path along the Neckar;
rowing on the Neckar
Below from left:
Heiligegeistkirche (Church of the Holy Ghost)
Castle wall ruins above the Altstadt
Hotel Ritter (Knight's Hotel - built in 1592, a guest house since 1705
Heiligegeistkirche (Church of the Holy Ghost)
Castle wall ruins above the Altstadt
Hotel Ritter (Knight's Hotel - built in 1592, a guest house since 1705
I have a lot more photos, but I'll save some for later. If you read this website and have suggestions for improvement, please let me know by e-mail so I can fix it up. For example, if the photos take too long to load and are bothersome, I can take them out. If you'd like to see more photos, tell me and I'll put in more. If you don't like the prose which I have taken from Jules Verne, just say so . . . .
On Saturday evening, I met my neighbor from last year, Ute, and her boyfriend, Christian, and we went to a small pub just across the river. The establishment is called Tati, and is named for a well known French comic. This tiny pub has about 6 tables and is not much larger than someone's living room, but has good food and a wonderful atmosphere. Despite the close quarters, there is a piano in the room and as we entered a pianist was playing. It was told to me that the man who runs this establishment is the cousin of the famous French composer, Camille Saint-Saens, and his pictures, playing piano, are on the wall there. Since Saint-Saens died in 1921, I guess he may be a second or third cousin, etc. Christian who makes a living trading rare postage stamps also joined in the music by sitting at the piano and accompanying on drum.
Today I walked down to the train station and was surprised to realize that there were a number of shops open! The bookstore, grocery, bakery and several convenience shops were all open on Sunday. I think this is a change from last year. I know the grocery store was open in past years, but I didn't think anything else was.
It was also possible to buy a train ticket for my trip to Austria next weekend. On Thursday afternoon, I am planning to take the train to Bludenz, Austria where I'll meet Stephanie and Ursula Wilhelm. Stephanie lived at our the Waite house in Terre Haute as a high school exchange student in 1991-92 and Ursula is Stephanie's mom. Stephanie's dad, Georg, is involved in a serious alpine bicycle tour this weekend so he can't join us. We are planning a trek from Brand to the Mannheim Hut, and if things go according to plan, we plan to will continue to the summit of the Schesaplana. I have heard reports that there is a fair amount of snow between the hut and the summit this year, so we'll simply have to see what it looks like.
July 2, 2001 - married 24 years!
Traveling around the world alone is an unusual way to spend your wedding anniversary, but my wife Ruth is wonderfully patient and understanding, and we'll have a celebration after I return. Ruth knows how to enjoy herself when I am not around and I think it makes our relationship stronger in the long run, that we occasionally have these relatively long periods of separation. Tomorrow I should remember to stop at the bakery and bring in pastries for my colleagues. We'll celebrate the 4th of July (that's Independence Day for you non-American readers) and my 24th anniversary!
July 3, 2001 -
I think we finally reached a "space crisis" in the heart surgery laboratory today. In an already crowded office, with the realization that a couple of colleagues are returning from vacation, Dr. Tanja and Dr. Nalan both went into cleaning/reconstruction mode and when the dust cleared, it was almost like having a new office! In order to avoid being trampled in this tornado of activity, I temporarily relocated to another office in the lab. With a little encouragement from another unnamed male colleague, I (somewhat sneakily) took this picture of these two "women on a mission:" I sent Nalan and Tanja a copy of the picture with the disclaimer that it was quite important that this activity be documented as it was the most work I have seen in my three summers at the Labor Herzchirurgie.
Left to right - Nalan and Tanja
Tuesday was a beautiful, warm and sunny day in Heidelberg and a group of us went to lunch at a very pleasant Italian establishment, where we sat outside under the shade of a maple tree, drank a beer, ate lunch, drank coffee, and had a very pleasant conversation (in spite of -- or perhaps because of -- the fact that in any German conversation involving more than two people, I am unlikely to understand more than 75% of the conversation). There were one or two jokes about the German work ethic and what struck me most is how similar this was to my life at Rose-Hulman (except perhaps the beer and the outdoor cafe and the physician colleagues . . . ). I guess the real similarity is the wonderful work atmosphere with colleagues who really do work hard, take long lunches on occasion, make joke about their work, and don't take themselves too seriously.
Oh yeah, I did take pastries to work on Tuesday, and I think I can safely say that everyone was appreciative and helped me to jointly celebrate Independence Day and my wedding anniversary.
July 4, 2001 -
Today there was a lot of activity in the lab. Gabor is back from Hungary now, but he has had quite a bit of duty assisting in the operating room, so I haven't seen him too much. Despite that fact, we have met briefly a couple of times, are talking by telephone and I have been in e-mail contact with both of working on the project and we have been crunching through a lot of data over the past couple of days. I'm pleased with our progress so far. Just to make sure the Dean back at RHIT realizes I'm working, I'll put in one work related picture. This picture shows mitral valve flow, during the very short time (~0.2 seconds) that the ventricle is filling with blood, for a series of different sized mitral valves. Pressure is in mmHg.
Also today, I met another colleague, Terezia for the first time. She is a new colleague in the lab and just finished her Ph.D. in Budapest last year. She is an MD/PhD and wants to eventually become a peripheral vascular surgeon. She is a very pleasant person, and is just learning German, although I think she understands much more than she let's on. We had a nice conversation in English.
I also spent some time today making final plans for my trip to Austria this weekend. I now have maps. The Wilhelms are picking me up around 3:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, so I won't be taking the train after all. It should really be a lot of fun. I'm truly looking forward to a weekend of hiking in the Alps. Whether we make it to the summit of the Schesaplana or not, I'll enjoy the journey. The bad news for readers of my journal is this; you'll probably have to wait until next Monday to read the next installment of my journal!
5 - 8 2001 - The Austrian/Swiss Alps
Day 1- Friday, July 6
Wow! How can I begin to describe this wonderful weekend in the Alps? It's 10:00 p.m. on Sunday evening and I can see that I won't have time to write the whole story tonight. I also have quite a few e-mails to catch up on tomorrow, so I'll try to present the story in parts so that the reader can imagine it somewhat like we experienced it.
We arrived in Brand, Austria at a small inn called Sarotla. This tiny village of 650 residents, at an altitude of 3400 feet above sea level (1040m), is nestled in the Brand Valley at the foot of the Schesaplana. I could spend a thousand words writing about the beautiful flowers, the wooden-shingle houses, the surrounding mountains, but perhaps it makes more sense to include a photo. This photo shows the view from the Sarotla. On Friday evening we had long discussions with the inn-keeper about the conditions on the trails to the Schesaplana, the huts and the weather conditions. The Mannheim Hut, which had been recommended to me, was closed on Friday night but would be open for the first night of the season on Saturday night.
Our trek Saturday began with a breathtaking ride from Brand to the high alpine lake "Luenersee," by a gondola style lift. There was an amazingly strong wind as we stepped out of the gondola station, but the sun was shining bright and the view of this high alpine lake, was impressive in it's beauty. Our trek began just before 10:00 a.m., around the lake with a final goal on Saturday to hike to the Schweizertor (Swiss Gate) and back through the Gafaljoch pass to end up at the Totalphuette (Dead Alp Hut).
The hours of hiking were filled with beautiful wild flowers, clear, cold, alpine streams, birds, marmots, clear blue skies, and a lot of wind. We made it to the Schweitzertor and had a short lunch before hiking/climbing through this pass as we left Austria and entered Switzerland. On the Swiss side of the pass, the wind was significantly less and the weather went from brisk to warm, and we shed our jackets in favor of short sleeves.
The view from Haus Sarotla.
If you look at the trio of peaks at the top of the picture, Shesaplana
is the peak on the right. From Brand, you can barely make out the
cross on top of Shesaplana with the naked eye.
Below, (left) Ursula and
Stefanie climbing through the Schweizertor; and (right) the Luenersee
When we finally returned to within a one-hour hike of the Totalphuette, we also realized that we could make it to the Gondola lift station and back to Brand for a nice hot shower, and a nice dinner rather than staying overnight at the hut, so we elected to do that. It was a successful six hours of trekking through the beautiful Swiss/Austrian Alps and because we had hiked in a loop, we would still be able to easily make the Totalphuette with an hour of hiking on Saturday.
2 - Saturday, July 7
On Saturday, it was decided that we should try to climb to the Mannheim hut by way of the Leibersteig, which the landlady had advised against. I voted for returning to the Totalphuette and direct to the summit and then back down to the Mannheim Hut over the glacier. I was slightly concerned but outvoted and we went to the Leibersteig anyway.
By the time we got to the Oberzalim hut, the weather was getting bad and the inn-keepers at the hut recommended that we NOT go up the Leibersteig. The scenery was absolutely outstanding on the way up, and the hut was nice. The Liebersteig is very steep, narrow in places, and icy in places. It had been closed by an avalanche the previous week and then shoveled open again. We hiked back to Brand through the rain for two hours, which is not as bad as it sounds. It poured for about a half-hour and we finally reached that happy state (as described by the famous mountaineer, H. W. Tilman) in which we could get no wetter. We arrived Back in Brand around 2:30 P.M. and after some discussion of what we should do for the rest of the day, I suggested that I would like to see nearby tiny alpine country of Liechtenstein.
We spent the rest of the day in the Dukedom
(Furstentum) of Liechtenstein (population 25,000) and mostly in the capital
Vaduz (population 5,000). Vaduz is an amazing place. They still
have a Duke. In this town of 5,000 people, there is a large castle
where the Duke lives (closed to visitors), there is the royal vineyard,
there are at least ten banks, and an equal number of stamp collecting shops.
There were several art museums! We ate pizza and drank Lichtenstein
wine and read the Lichtenstein newspaper.
3 - Sunday, July 8
On Sunday, we were to once again, attempt the Schesaplana, by taking the cable car back to the Luenersee, hiking past the Totalphuette and
going up to the summit - 3 1/2 to 4 hours. We got a fairly early start and made it to the Totalphuette in a reasonably fast hour. From there up, it was pretty steep. We were working pretty hard about 11:30 a.m. and saw that the summit was clouding up. We met two climbers coming down, who had gone up the Leibersteig on the day before. One of the men from their group had been hit on the head by a falling rock and had to ride down the mountain on a cable lift designed for luggage and provisions! (He wasn't badly hurt, only cut.) These guys had a really bad time, and boy were we happy that we had decided NOT to attempt the Leibersteig. The had endured rain, hail, sleet, high winds, falling rocks, . . .
Our turn-around time was around noon, since
we still had to drive back to Heidelberg and Stefanie had to go all the
way to Aachen. The folks we met coming down, also told us that they
couldn't see much at the summit, and that it was fairly steep and one of
them had slid about 90 feet at one point. About that time we decided
to head back down, without tagging the summit. I was back in Heidelberg,
washing clothes by 6:00 p.m. I drove all the way back from Brand
to Heidelberg, almost all of it Autobahn.
July 9, 2001
Back at work today, I started answering e-mails as fast as I could, but since my graduate student Christoph Franck was to arrive at noon, Gabor wanted to prepare. By the time Christoph arrived at noon, I had only sent a few important messages. Christoph's visit was amazingly productive, and we worked until about 6:30 p.m. He had invited me to visit his family in Dillingen, and I had agreed, not knowing quite what to expect. Then we climbed into the family Mercedes 320I and headed for Dillingen.
I was surprised, if not shocked at the warm reception from this very nice family. I knew that Christoph's father was an MD, I didn't know that he is the chief obstetrician for the hospital here in Dillingen. His mom and dad, Hannelotte and Helmut Franck, met us in the driveway enthusiastically.
Christoph's dad is an avid hunter and fisherman. He had caught the rainbow trout that we ate, in the stream on their property. We had Frankisch wine (what else at the Franck residence?) and wonderfully sweet, red, ripe strawberries that are still in season in Germany. Helmut Franck was born in 1940 and was very young when the war ended. He spoke of only positive memories about the American soldiers and how Kinderfreundlich they were. They gave the kids candy and oranges and at that young age, he had no fear of the soldiers.
He spoke a lot about the former East Germany, DDR, where his cousins still live, and where he visited regularly during the DDR times. He had a lot of interesting stories, but not too much good to say about the former DDR.
Helmut also told the story of his father, who was trained in electrical engineering, and went to work in 1933, just days before all Germans were required to join the Nazi party in order to get a job. Later he was drafted to serve in the SA, but wanted to find a way out. He was also trained as an organist. The organist in a local congregation had been asked to make a decision; whether he was loyal to the party or to the church, and that organist gave up his position as organist. Christoph's grandfather was asked to play the organ and accepted. Some time later, the Nazis came to him and asked him whether he was loyal to the party, and would he give up his organist position? He told them that he felt called to serve the church, and so a few days later they sent him a letter to say that he had been dishonorably discharged from the SA! That letter turned out to be an amazing stroke of good luck for Christoph's grandfather.
When the war was over and the Americans came around asking what each person had done in the war (and putting some German men in jail and on trial for war crimes), he searched for that letter, in a panic. His wife (Christoph's grandmother) kept it from him for two day, before handing it over, because she was still angry at him for marrying her in his brown SA uniform ("that brown piece of ----!"). After the war, it turned out to be a positive thing to have been dishonorably discharged from the SA, and the family thrived.
We talked for hours, only in German. It was midnight when Hannelotte said that they had decided to have me stay overnight in a hotel, because the phone at their house always rings in the morning, and the dogs bark, and . . . and so Christoph and his mom drove me to the Hotel Dillingenhof.
The world is a strange and wonderful place at times. Christoph volunteered to drive two hours two Heidelberg to help a good bit with my work (Gabor was impressed by him), he volunteered to drive me back to his home, where they fed me fresh rainbow trout and strawberries with whipped cream and then put me up in a hotel overnight, so I wouldn't be disturbed by their dogs! What an extraordinarily friendly family!
July 11, 2001
Today it's pretty rainy, but if it doesn't rain, I may go to a baseball game tonight. I am invited by Karin Sonnenberg to a game, between two German teams. It should be fun, but I'm doubtful about the weather.
This morning we were having coffee and the conversation turned to freedom. It's of course, a pretty philosophical discussion (especially for one in German!), and about what freedom is in America. I told them the story about Sarah, when she was little, asking where God lives, and how I replied that some things don't really have a location, like freedom. When I asked her, "for example, where is freedom?" She said, "that's easy, freedom is in America!" My German colleagues thought that was pretty hilarious.
July 12, 2001
Today is the 50th day of Phileas Fogg's journey, but now he'll spend 22 days crossing the Pacific Ocean by steamer, and this is one place where travel by 747 has a great advantage! Verne wrote:
The steamer which was about to depart from Yokohama to San Francisco belonged to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and was named the General Grant. She was a large paddle-wheel steamer of two thousand five hundred tons; well equipped and very fast. The massive walking-beam rose and fell above the deck; at one end a piston-rod worked up and down; and at the other was a connecting-rod which, in changing the rectilinear motion to a circular one, was directly connected with the shaft of the paddles. The General Grant was rigged with three masts, giving a large capacity for sails, and thus materially aiding the steam power. By making twelve miles an hour, she would cross the ocean in twenty-one days. Phileas Fogg was therefore justified in hoping that he would reach San Francisco by the 2nd of December, New York by the 11th, and London on the 20th--thus gaining several hours on the fatal date of the 21st of December.
While Fogg was steaming his way across the Pacific, I attended a baseball game in Germany yesterday evening. That was an interesting experience and I learned an entire new German vocabulary. Words like pitchen, pitchte, gepitcht. For example, "Fritz hat Gestern gepitcht." Fritz pitched yesterday! (I guess it's no worse than computer-Deutsch; "Ich habe die Datei downgeloadet" -- I have downloaded the files!
In any case, the game was a lot of fun. Karin Sonnenberg had invited me and she was there along with her husband and also her friend Thea who is quite knowledgeable about baseball, since both of her children play. The German national team beat the Australian national team 6 to 5 with a two-run homer in the top of the ninth (that's right, for some reason the Germans batted in the top half of the inning - perhaps they flipped a coin to determine the home team). The game was complete with national anthem (German and Australian of course), 7th inning stretch with a few fans singing "take me out to the ball game," a couple of balks, and at least one double play. I saw one German fan wearing a St. Louis Cardinals, Mark McGwire, 70 home-run t-shirt and another (obviously less sophisticated baseball fan :-) ) wearing an Atlanta Braves t-shirt with "Maddux" across the back.
July 15, 2001 - Heidelberg in the tracks of Mark Twain
Now it is Sunday evening and I spent a relatively calm and relaxing weekend in Heidelberg. On Friday evening the weather was cool and cloudy and I went for a run after work . I had dinner at "Fritz" where I met my colleague Terezia. Terezia is a friendly, ambitious physician who has come to Heidelberg from Budapest, Hungary to work at the Heart Surgery Lab. Terezia plans to be a vascular surgeon one day and the important question for her now, is, "What is the best way to accomplish that and finish her Ph.D. along the way?" Is it best to stay in Heidelberg, return to Budapest, travel to the USA, Canada . . . ? Terezia is a Romanian citizen of Hungarian descent. We had a very pleasant conversation over dinner, in English. I learned a lot about Hungary, Romania, Hungarian culture and Romanian culture.
On Saturday, Karin Sonnenberg, the manager of our lab (medical technical assistant) showed me around the Neckar Valley region including some of the nearby castles and fortresses that Mark Twain visited over 100 years ago. We drove first to the Koenigstuhl (king's chair) which overlooks the city of Heidelberg, to take a picture and to get an overview of where we would go next.
Sonnenberg at Hinterburg
Next we drove first to an area with four "burgs" or fortresses which are all located very close together near the town of Neckarsteinach. We parked the car and walked up the hill to Hinterburg, and enjoyed the view of the Neckar from atop it's high tower. After leaving Hinterburg, we drove to the castle of Dilsberg, which Mark Twain also visited and wrote about.
Twain wrote, "Dilsberg is a quaint place. It is most quaintly and picturesquely situated, too. Imagine the beautiful river before you; then a few rods of brilliant green sward on its opposite shore; then a sudden hill, - no preparatory gently rising slopes, but a sort of instantaneous hill, - a hill two hundred and fifty or three hundred feet high, with some taper upward that an inverted bowl has, and with about the same relation of height to diameter that distinguishes a bowl of good honest depth, - a hill which is thickly clothed with green bushes, - a comely shapely hill, rising abruptly out of the dead level of the surrounding green plains, visible from a great distance down the bends of the river, and with just exactly room on the top of its head for its steepled and turreted and roof-clustered cap of architecture, which same is tightly jammed and compacted within the perfectly round hoop of the ancient village wall."
view from Dilsberg Castle
Karin and I walked along the top of the highest wall, and then climbed into the highest tower, just as another Missourian had done 123 years earlier. Twain wrote about the view, ". . . a wide and beautiful landscape, made up of wavy distances of wooded hills, and a nearer prospect of undulating expanses of green lowlands, on the one hand, and castle-graced crags and ridges on the other, with the shining curves of the Neckar flowing between."
I should also mention here, that I had not read Twain's story of his visit to Dilsberg before we took the trip, and neither had Karin. It was a big surprise to me to read his description, after the fact. Especially this next part. Karin pointed out the well in the courtyard of the castle and told me how she as a child had always had a particular interest in wells and had been drawn to wells. Imagine my surprise when I later read this description by Twain, "But the principal show, the chief pride of the children, was the ancient and empty well in the grass-grown court of the castle. Its massive stone curb stands up three or four feet above ground and is whole and uninjured. The children said that in the Middle Ages this well was four hundred feet deep, and furnished all the village with an abundant supply of water, in war and peace. They said that in the old days its bottom was below the level of the Neckar, hence the water supply was inexhaustible.
But there were some who believed it had never been a well at all, and was never deeper than it is now, - eighty feet; that at that depth a subterranean passage branched from it and descended gradually to a remote place in the valley, where it opened into somebody's cellar or other hidden recess, and that the secret of this locality is now lost. "
Twain goes on to write, "The children said that there was in truth a subterranean outlet down there, and they would prove it. So they set a great truss of straw on fire and threw it down the well, while we leaned on the curb and watched the glowing mass descend. It struck the bottom and gradually burned out. No smoke came up. The children clapped their hands and said, ' You see! Nothing makes so much smoke as burning straw - now where did the smoke go to, if there is no subterranean outlet?'"
the entrance to the tunnel at Dilsberg; right, inside the tunnel
In fact, there IS a subterranean outlet!! Mark Twain supposed it, but in the early 20th century, it was found, and reopened! As a native of the "Show-me state,' I'm sure that Twain would have preferred to see the tunnel with his own eyes, but 123 years after Twain's visit, this former resident of Missouri did have that opportunity, and here are the photos!
We sat in the cafe "Deutscher Kaiser" (German Emperor) and ate cheesecake and spice cake and drank apple juice with mineral water. The conversation (always in German) turned to the idea of history, and what a wonderful time it is now to live. Karin is an optimist and generally a very happy person, just as I am, and she thinks that this is the best time in history to be alive, and possibly also for the future. The history of the place is quite overwhelming and it occurred to me how very difficult it would have been to have the chance to visit Europe from the USA, even once in one's lifetime, just one-hundred years ago.
From Dilsberg, we proceeded to the castle at Hirschhorn. Again Mark Twain wrote, " But Hirschhorn is best seen from a distance, down the river. Then the clustered brown towers perched on the green hilltop and the old battlemented stone wall, stretching up and over the grassy ridge and disappearing in the leafy sea beyond, make a picture whose grace and beauty entirely satisfy the eye." What the famous author says, may well be true, but I also enjoyed the view from inside the castle looking down upon the Neckar!
On the way back to
Heidelberg, we drove past Beerfelden and saw an ancient stone gallows,
that had been used to hang criminals for about 250 years between 1550 and
The inscription reads: "The best preserved three-sided gallows in Germany - built in 1550 refurbished in 1597 - It served justice for the court of Beerfelden. The condemned stood at the stone cross under the linden to receive the last rites. The last execution was carried out in 1804, a gypsy woman was executed for stealing a chicken and some bread."
July 18, 2001
My last week at work in Heidelberg is winding down. There are last minute arrangement for the remainder of my trip around the world. These last minute arrangements happen simultaneously with the last minute efforts to make progress on my research before I leave. It's a pleasant, but only slightly stressful time. This summer has been quite a successful one. I met some new colleagues, we made good progress on the research, have plans for a couple of submissions for publication, . . .
Tomorrow I will ship one piece of luggage off to Prien an Chiemsee, (near Munich) where I will spend the weekend visiting the Pass family. For about DM30 ($15), someone will come to your door and pick up your luggage and deliver it anywhere in Germany. This way, I only have to travel with one suitcase and the trunk will travel ahead. Of course, that means that I need to pack the trunk tonight.
On Friday I will take the train to Prien, so I made a reservation and bought a train ticket yesterday. Because there were no KLM flights open between Munich and Amsterdam on Monday morning, I will take a 10:15 a.m. Sunday morning flight from Munich to Amsterdam. I'll arrive in Amsterdam around noon Sunday, store the trunk in a baggage locker, check into my hotel near the airport and then I'll have the rest of the day to see a bit of Amsterdam. I have a reservation at the Ibis Amsterdam Airport Hotel for Sunday evening, (telephone: 31- 20 - 502 51 00). My flight departs from Amsterdam at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, so I can sleep in a bit on Monday morning. I'm scheduled to arrive in Accra about 5 or 6 hours later.
Later . . .
It's now 11:00 p.m. and there are still a few more minutes left in Wednesday, July 18. I just returned from a very pleasant evening of conversation with my two lovely colleagues, Tanja and Terezia at the local cafe, "Fritz". Tanja and Terezia are both M.D.'s, have both have traveled, are both multilingual, and have an understanding of what it means to live and work in a foreign country. Tanja is also an engineer. When I meet this type of person, " a global citizen," it often results in a pleasant conversation - tonight was no exception. It's fun to hear, for example, Tanja's impression of American beer or American coffee or Terezia's plans for her future. We talked about the differences and similarities between our native lands and cultures. Even, what it means that one is "German" or "American" or Hungarian-Romanian." Are these designations, a nationality, a citizenship, an ethnicity, a culture . . . .? The interesting topics and the warm conversation, (as well as the beer) flowed for some hours. As usual, I find myself feeling a little badly that I have to leave Heidelberg again so soon, on Friday. Hopefully, this conversation is only the beginning of a long collaboration, leading to a longer friendship.
July 20, 2001
It's about 1:30 a.m. on Friday morning, July 20th. I have now finished packing. I paid my rent earlier today and shipped my trunk to Munich. All I really need to do tomorrow is turn in my key, go to the lab for a nice farewell coffee for an hour or so, and take the 12:15 train to Munich. I met my neighbor tonight for the first time. She is from Korea (Pusan) and is a graduate student in biology. We had a really nice conversation and I feel a bit bad now that I didn't get to know her earlier. I think she has been here the whole four weeks. She doesn't speak German but speaks English quite well. She is going to Vienna this weekend and hopes that she will be able to see an opera.
I'm a bit curious about the weekend visit to the Pass family. It's quite nice of them to have invited me to stay with them, although we really don't know each other so well. I met Ingrid, Jeanette, and Michelle, purely by chance in a Thai restaurant in London, simply because the restaurant was nearly empty, they were speaking German, and I can never resist a conversation in German - especially in places where is might be unexpected. We ended up seeing several of the sights of London together that weekend and have kept in touch a bit by e-mail and letter.
Later on the 20th:
It's 1:30 p.m. and I'm riding through the German countryside, just south-east of Stuttgart. The trains run on time in Germany and this one is not exception. The inter-city express is a very pleasant express train, and the trip from Heidelberg to Munich is just over three hours. After getting on board in Mannheim, I had lunch and a cup of coffee in the dining car while watching the scenery glide by. We are approaching the Schwabisch Alps, so the terrain is gradually making the transition from the relatively flat fields around Heidelberg, to rolling hills. As I look out the window I see green fields of corn, golden fields of wheat, the red-tiled roofs of German towns and villages. I see the ruins of an old burg or fortress, on a hilltop in the distance and a vineyard shooting by at over 100 mph. Here is an orchard on the right and a village in a low valley on the left. In quite a short time, the scenery is beginning to change noticeably and the hills are no longer rolling hills but small tree covered mountains - the Schwabisch Alps. The train rolls through Geislingen, a relatively large city, overlooked by a very large wooden cross on a neighboring hill. Now we are passing through a densely wooded area with cliffs on the right and a very deep, mostly undeveloped valley on the left. (If you are picturing the scenery on the right and left, it might also me important to note that I am traveling backwards so that left is toward the south and right is toward the north! ) I'm beginning now to see more fir trees, whereas a half-hour ago the trees were almost all deciduous.
A bit later, we pull into the town of Ulm and the remarkable Ulm Cathedral, the tallest cathedral in Germany is clearly visible from the train. This giant gray cathedral, with it's red tiled roof, can be seen from a great distance and it's a rather impressive sight. The cathedral is the symbol of Ulm and it dwarfs every other building in the town.
In another 11/2 hours we'll be in Munich. It's such a pleasant ride, that I almost hat to see it end. Leaving Ulm, the landscape is rather flat once again as the train passes along the Donau. The cooling towers of a nuclear power plant are visible in the distance. I am beginning to see the characteristic onion-domed churches of the Catholic churches in Bavaria. Bavaria is a strongly Catholic state in Germany. We begin to climb once again. Passing through forest of tall, fir trees, I'm reminded a bit of the black forest. The fields and forests are very green. Germany is a very green land.
July 21, 2001 - Chiemsee, Bavaria
Today is Bill Waite's19th birthday. Happy birthday Bill! I'll try to call, but I'm not sure if you'll be home. We'll celebrate again in August when I return!
Yesterday, the train arrived on time at the Munich train station - even a few minutes early. I met Ingrid in front of the station as planned and we spent a very pleasant afternoon touring Munich. It's, of course, not possible to see much of a city in a few hours, but I had already been to Munich once in 1985 and it was pleasant to revisit this famous city and see some familiar sights. In the evening we met a group of women who were high school classmates of Ingrid. It is quite remarkable that from a graduating class of only 12 students, six of these women still keep regular contact with each other. We had dinner at a very nice restaurant, Asam Schloessl, and after dinner drove to Breitbrunn am Chiemsee, where the Pass family lives.
The Pass family live in a remarkable house, built entirely of wood imported from Finland, and built by the Finn's. This three story house is very rustic, with massive wood beams and thick solid wood walls. The wood is left unfinished in most areas. Rather than trying to find the words to do justice to this remarkable structure, I'll include a couple of pictures here.
Today is cool and rainy on Chiemsee. I awoke this morning to the sound of gentle rain on the roof. It's perfect weather for sleeping and it's tempting for me to spend the entire day laying around and sleeping. At least we will stay home for a few hours waiting for my trunk to arrive. It should arrive by 2:00 p.m. this afternoon. I'll be VERY happy to be rid of this trunk!
Below left: Chiemsee
Below right: Michelle Pass at Chiemsee
Ingrid, Michelle and I went to the lake and sat on the dock and enjoyed the sun. The weather was good in the afternoon, with a blue sky, white cumulus clouds, and there was almost no wind. Once again, I could spend a very long time thinking of words to describe the wonderful nature that surrounded us, but it's perhaps clearer and certainly faster to include a couple of pictures!
I learned a fascinating story about Ingrid's father, who was a surgeon in the German army during World War II and was taken prisoner at or near the end of the war and spent 6 years in Siberia. He had to remain in Siberia for years after the war was over, even longer than some of the other prisoners, because they did not have a prison doctor, even for the Russian guards who were sick. Ingrid's father is no longer living, but her mother is and we visited Ingrid's mother at her house in the afternoon. There is a painting hanging on the wall there and it is a portrait of a young man dressed in surgeons' clothing. The painting was painted by a Polish prisoner for a play in which a painting of a doctor was needed, and Ingrid's father was the model for the portrait. After he was released from the prison, he was also allowed to keep the painting.
July 22, 2001 - Amsterdam, Holland
It was a great stroke of fortune to have been befriended by a former airline employee. Ingrid worked many years for Lufthansa, and when we arrived at the Munich airport on Sunday morning, Ingrid was able to smooth over a bunch of potential problems with my flight and my luggage.
I had made a change to my around-the-world ticket and I was assured by the KLM office in Frankfurt that I would be able to get my ticket rebooked in Munich but that I might need to pay a $35 fee for the change. I was also a bit concerned about my two giant pieces of luggage and how I would get them through the airport in Amsterdam. Ingrid and Michelle brought me to the Munich airport to check-in and somehow Ingrid charmed all of the KLM employees. They were able to check by luggage all the way through to Accra, I didn't have to pay any over-weight luggage fees, they were all very pleasant and by 10:15 a.m. I was on my way to Amsterdam, with only one light carry-on bag. I would have over 24 hours in Amsterdam to relax, and I already had my boarding pass in hand for the Amsterdam-Accra leg.
I spent a pleasant, sunny Sunday afternoon in Amsterdam. I visited the National Museum where Rembrandt's "Nightwatch" hangs. I stopped in an internet cafe to send some e-mails, had dinner at a Chinese-Indonesian restaurant and took the train back to Schipol airport and the shuttle back to my hotel. I slept in on Monday, had a leisurely breakfast, read, watched TV and checked out around noon and took the shuttle back to Schipol.
July 23, 2001 - Accra, Ghana
It was a typical day for a trip around the world when everything goes right. Get up at 8:30 a.m., breakfast buffet at 9:00, read and watch TV until 11:30 pack and check out by noon. Take the ten minute shuttle ride to Schipol airport. No luggage to check, already in possession of boarding pass, skip the long lines at check-in and stop at information desk to inquire about the boarding gate. Have lunch, stop in the airport Internet cafe and send a few more e-mails and stroll to the boarding gate at 2:00 p.m. Board KLM582 for Accra which departed on time. Six hours, and two meals later, after watching "The Mexican," we touch down in Accra. The weather was perfect. It was a clear night sky with temperatures of 25 C (76F). The passport control lines were short and I proceeded to baggage claim effortlessly.
O.K. you already know that there are no days, in traveling around the world in which everything goes right. It was an almost perfect day. Right up until the last bag had been unloaded and mine wasn't on that flight, it was a perfect day. Well, even that wasn't so bad in the end. It turned out that the bag had arrived earlier in the day and was immediately sent to the "baggage reclaim section" which by now was closed so we would need to return on Tuesday for my luggage.
It was wonderful to see George and Adjoa once again and we had a happy meeting at the airport entrance. Nothing is easy in Ghana and picking up your friends at the airport is no exception. As I exited the terminal I was greeted by a host of porters all competing for my attention, hoping to carry my luggage (I only had a overnight bag) and guide me to a location to meet my friends, despite the fact that they didn't know my friends or the location where we would meet. There is a kind of gauntlet of these porters, and several times on the way out I had passed through a door or gate or past a fence and thought I was outside the airport. After about the third barricade, I finally came to the huge crowd of Ghanaians who are held behind the fence, outside the airport, waiting for their friends, relatives and acquaintances to arrive. George and Adjoa were there smiling and waving and worrying as I knew they would be.
Being fairly tired from a long day of doing nothing, and having no luggage to unpack, and no medical supplies for the clinic, I turned in. I'm quartered in the guest room next to the clinic. It's a very pleasant room, very light and breezy. Just before turning in, George tried to show me how to use the shower, which had a, new hot water heater that had been installed since my last visit. There was considerable confusion concerning the plumbing arrangement and finally we agreed that there was no hot or cold water because there was no water pressure. Adjoa brought heated water from the kitchen, in a pail and I washed in the basin and happily fell asleep to the sounds of goats, bull frogs, many varieties of birds and the occasional howls of most of the neighborhood dogs (except perhaps the ones who are very heavy sleepers - like me).
Being a sound sleeper is usually, but not always a good thing. About 4:30 a.m. I very gradually awoke to the realization that I was hearing a fairly distinct sound of water running very nearby. Imagine a garden hose splashing water on your bedroom floor. I'm not sure how long it took me to be awakened by this sound, but sometime in the night, after George had tried to get the shower to work and gave up, the water pressure was restored and in his confusion, George had left the valve full open rather than closed. Whether the pressure was restored suddenly or gradually, we will never know. We may attempt to estimate how long the pressure had been restored before I awoke, by the quantity of water on the bathroom floor. Thankfully the floor slopes away from the bedroom door and the water did not rise so far. Not only had the valve been left on but the shower head had been placed in such a position to spray directly onto the floor instead of into the tub.
To those skeptics who would question whether this day may still be called one in which everything went right, I remind you that the water pressure almost certainly was restored sometime after midnight - early Tuesday morning.
July 24, 2001
We made the trip to the airport this morning about 9:00 a.m. It's about 5 to 10 miles away by my best estimate and takes about an hour to drive there. George doesn't own a car, but hires a car and driver for instances like this when a visitor arrives. We had been told to look for the "Baggage Reclaim Section" and that it would be open between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. When we arrived at the airport we asked directions to that office and found it quickly.
This small wooden, plaster and corrugated metal building, was about the size of a four or five room shed and there were DOZENS of workers milling about in a frenzy to help us as we arrived. The inside of the building was rather dark and there was luggage piled everywhere. Everywhere there wasn't a piece of baggage, there was a worker. There were porters, and guards, and customs officials, and at least three people dressed a bit more formally, sitting behind tables, looking important.
I knew that in my luggage there was a laptop computer and a good bit of medical equipment in addition to my clothes, shoes etc. and I was quite hopeful that I would not need to complete this around-the-world trip with only the clothes on my back and those in my overnight bag. More importantly, I really did not want to lose that computer or medical equipment that I had brought for the Atsina Charity Medical Clinic. The appearance of the building gave me reason to worry.
Two young workers addressed us immediately. They enthusiastically led us through a room completely stacked with luggage to the exact spot where my trunk was sitting. The fact that they were able to do this without inquiring my name or inquiring after by baggage claim presents several questions upon reflection: was it simply good luck? Were so few bags brought to that building in the past day, that mine was the only logical choice for someone who had arrived recently? If that was so, what of the other thousands of pieces of luggage in that building and who owns them? How long have they been there? The world is a remarkable and continually surprising place.
After removing my two pieces of luggage, we had increased the volume of empty space in that room significantly and we proceeded to a second room with less luggage but many more persons, including one man sitting behind a table who kept a large ledger. He began by asking me to show my claim checks, which I did, then my passport, which I also did, and he finally asked me to sign the ledger to signify that I had received this luggage. I wonder where this ledger goes after it is full. No doubt to some great repository for ledgers where it occupies a shelf next to the book of names of persons who daily sign in at the RHIT sports and recreation facility.
If you have never been to Ghana, and if you have never read anything by Kafka, you might think that the end of the luggage reclamation process. In fact, we proceeded with my luggage to the customs officer's table and lifted the trunk on the table. He asked me what was in it. It's never completely clear with customs officers, the level of detail in which they might be interested, so for the sake of brevity I answered "medical supplies." His reply was equally brief, "open it." I am starting to get good at unpacking and packing this trunk. He wasn't at all interested in the gauze pads, toothbrushes, or alcohol prep pads, but he did get quite interested when he saw the syringes. This is the point where it's good to have a Ghanaian doctor nearby, and he asked George one or two questions and then seemed to be satisfied.
He also questioned me about the large black case buried among the medical supplies. I told him it was a computer. He asked if it was mine and if it was a laptop. The moment of truth had arrived and I was curious what would happen if he asked me to take it out and turn it on. In Munich, they had asked me to do that but the computer did not start. HMO. In Munich they ran it through an x-ray machine. In this building, I'm not sure there was a light bulb or an electrical outlet, let alone an x-ray apparatus. I think the customs man was bored and he just wrote on my trunk with his blue pencil and turned his attention to my second piece of luggage.
"What's in it?," he asked. "Clothes, mostly," I replied. He wrote on my black suitcase with his pencil and waved us on to the next table.
I'm still not sure the purpose of the last table. I had my luggage. I had signed for it. Claim tickets had been checked. We had been through customs. We were sent to one more table where a nicely dressed man waved us out the door. In the end, the Ghanaian airport workers were helpful and some were even friendly. An hour later we were happily back at the clinic.
and Komli-Kofi Atsina
Back at the clinic, we set to unpacking. Just like the last time I came, it was like Christmas in July. This is truly the best part of the trip. Ink cartridges for the printer, and a new computer, and a hemoglobinometer, and a hematocytometer, and a whole trunk full of donated supplies. It was great and George and Adjoa were really happy.
Now it was time to set to the task of trying to bring e-mail to the Atsina Charity Medical Clinic in Accra, Ghana. Since the computer had not worked when I tried to turn it on in Munich, I was worried about whether it would work. I was also quite worried whether the phones here would accept the kind of adapter that I had brought, and if the Ghanaian dial tone is such that the modem could recognize it as a dial tone. All of these things have been a problem for me somewhere in the world and mostly recently.
Below right: Guest room
in the upper left of the photo
I plugged the charger into an adapter which I had brought on a previous trip and I turned on the computer. It worked! Evidently the battery had been dead in Munich. Next I found that the phone cord could be unplugged from the phone and plugged into the modem directly. The phone was touch-tone instead of pulse-dial so that was also comforting. But things were going too easily, so you might imagine what happens next. I had recently checked the AOL access number for Accra and written it down. I had also tried this number from the USA so I knew that it had worked in the past. When the computer tried to dial, it was not able to reach the number. I tried dialing the phone directly and the nice woman in the recording said that this was not a valid phone number. There is no phone book in Accra and after a half-dozen phone calls to the Ghanaian Telecom, Adjoa convinced us that we should break for lunch.
After a wonderful lunch of chicken, rice cabbage, & watermelon, I was almost ready to give up on AOL. Adjoa had called one of their acquaintances, who knew something about computers and he told us that AOL was not allowed in Ghana because Africa On Line had a kind of monopoly. That of course, does not explain how I can access AOL through a phone number in Accra from the USA or why AOL would continue to advertise this AOL access number. Of course, I decided to try again after lunch. The reliability of the phone system is suspect at best in Accra and whatever doesn't work now may work an hour from now.
At approximate 13:45 Greenwich Mean Time
on July 24, 2001, e-mail came to the Atsina Charity Medical Clinic.
It worked. We sent messages to the members of the board of the Atsina
Charity Medical Clinic, to Nana Atsina, George's daughter, to Ruth
and we rejoiced at our success. If you want to send George
and Adjoa an e-mail, the address is:
Below: Osomea Atsina
At this moment (6:30 p.m.) I'm sitting on the stone patio under the guest room, adjacent to the clinic enjoying a cool breeze and a beautiful Ghanaian sunset. George is still busy with a few patients who have been interspersed throughout the afternoon. George and Adjoa have taken on a new family member since my last visit. Osomea is 2 1/2 years old and came to the Atsina household six months ago. In that time, this amazing little girl has learned to speak English, and I heard here recite the alphabet, count to twenty and recite a poem, she is fascinated by this computer.
Osomea and I had a nice time drawing pictures in paintbrush but now I'm trying hard to catch up on this journal and a few e-mails before my trip continues onward to South Africa tomorrow. Since I know I can send e-mail from here and there is even a slight possibility of getting this journal on the web, I better try.
July 25, 2001
Happy Birthday Dorita Martins! With so much happening, it's getting tough to find the time to keep up on this journal. My visit to the clinic has been short but profitable. George and I spent a good bit of Wednesday playing with his new "toys," but the patients still came, so it was a fairly busy day. In the afternoon I took a walk around the neighborhood and took a few more pictures around the clinic. Here is one of my favorites:
My flight to South Africa on South African Airways was scheduled to leave Accra at 11:00 p.m.. We set out from the clinic about 7:00 p.m. The drive between the airport and the clinic is always an adventurous one. The driver estimated 20 km (12 miles), by road between the two points. I estimate the distance from the map to be ~ 10km (6 miles) as the crow flies. The trip takes about an hour, if the traffic "isn't bad." This is accomplished by careening through the city at speeds up to 80 kph (50 mph). I think there has been a change in the number of traffic lights in Ghana. I didn't see many in 1997 when I visited Ghana the first time. I counted approximately 15 - 20 stoplight between the clinic and airport - therefore, one stoplight per kilometer. We arrived at the airport sometime between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m.
I sat beside a Nigerian man on the flight. He looked to be in his mid twenties, and when I got on the airplane, he was buckled into the seat next to mine, wearing a winter coat. The temperature in Accra, which is very near the equator, was between 21 and 31 degrees C that day (between 70 and 88 F). The man didn't seem real friendly at first, but I soon realized that he was quite friendly, although rather self conscious. As we chatted, I found out that this would be his second airplane ride - the first being the preceding short trip between Nigeria and Ghana on Ghana airways. He was traveling to Johannesburg to join up with his brother and hopefully to find work. How interesting to see the flight through his eyes.
Shortly after take-off, he turned to me and said, "you people are amazing." I asked if he meant, "you people who fly often and to whom it seems routine," and he replied with an enthusiastic "Yes!." When we encountered turbulence, he asked me what causes it and told me that he had also noticed it before on his flight to Ghana.
Shortly after departure, I noticed that he was reading a Christian devotional booklet. Here we were, sharing a common space on a Boeing 767 and we come from two completely different worlds, but we share a common faith.
I do not think that this man removed his winter coat during the entire six hour trip. When we arrived in Johannesburg, at 6:30 a.m. it became crystal clear to me, why this man had been wearing a winter coat. The temperature in Johannesburg was 0 C (32 F). Depending on who you ask in Johannesburg, this either is or isn't an unusually cold morning here in the winter June, July, and August, but they all agree that it is very cold. It did not seem so very cold to me, as I have felt nearly so cold on an occasional summer day in Germany!
July 26, 2001 - Johannesburg, South Africa
The Johannesburg airport is quite modern and well organized. When I arrived at the airport and had cleared customs it was only 7:00 a.m. I thought it would be far too early to check-in, but decided to call the hotel, "Don Johannesburg Airport" to ask when I would be able to ckeck-in. In fact, the woman on the phone told me that she had a room available and I could check in immediately. I also found out that although check-out time is 10:00 a.m.. tomorrow, they will let me keep my room until the afternoon, as I have a 6:00 p.m. departure for Perth! This is a wonderfully helpful hotel.
Today is a rest day. I'm taking a short break from touring. I'm catching up on my journal, catching up on my sleep, reading, watching TV -- it's wonderful. For tomorrow morning I have booked a tour to a "Lion Park." I'm looking forward to it. I have been concerned about some of the things I have heard about Johannesburg regarding security, but I think that as long as one stays with an organized tour, it's quite safe. It is a strange feeling however, to look out my hotel window and see only a tall fence surrounding the hotel, topped by razor wire.
July 27, 2001
The lion park was pretty cool. Yesterday, I asked at the front desk if I could arrange a short half day tour for Friday morning. They called to book the tour. A man by the name of Robb Edgecomb came to pick me up at the hotel promptly at 9:00 a.m. He was a very pleasant guy who had worked as a journalist for some years before going into the tour business. His website for Executive BreakawayTours can be seen at http://www.ebtours.co.za
It was a beautiful, cool, clear morning, without a cloud in the sky and a gray-brown haze hung over Johannesburg. It is the middle of winter in South Africa so the grass is quite brown but there are still enough green trees to give the surrounding landscape a predominantly green hue. According to my guide, the haze is a result of grass fires which are set intentionally to prevent very large grass fires later. He also told me that you can expect clear skies in Johannesburg between March and November (the winter months) and "not a drop of rain". Robb pointed out a few of the sights of Johannesburg along the way including one of the townships which could be seen from the highway. The lion park was not very far from Johannesburg and we arrived there is about 20 minutes.
The lion park is a local breeding facilities that raises lions to sell to zoos, and game and wildlife parks around the world. The also have springbok, antelope, zebras, and a few other animals in the park. Here are a couple of photos from the lion park.
It's now several hours later and I'm riding a 747 somewhere over the Indian Ocean, bound for Perth. It's 10:00 p.m. in Johannesburg and 4:00 a.m. in Perth. There is a large group of British field hockey players on this flight. They are on a world tour which follows my path in a remarkable way. They just left South Africa and will play next in Perth. Their itinerary doesn't follow mine precisely, but they will be going to Perth, Auckland, Rotorua, Nadi and then LA!! I even noticed that we will be staying in the same hotel in Rotorua and I think we overlap one day there. What a coincidence!
The computer battery died on the airplane, as I continued happily toward Perth. I arrived on Saturday morning in Perth, having slept about 3 hours on the airplane and Jose and Dorita met me at the airport as expected. I had some difficulties with customs which should not surprise me since this was the first country where I didn't expect to have troubles.
I had inadvertently checked the box on
the form claiming that I had no food with me. O.K. it wasn't completely
inadvertant, but I knew that they didn't care if I brought chocolate into
Australia. When the woman at passport control asked me if I
had no food, I even told her that I had chocolate with me. The customs
agents seemed cross because I had checked the box saying that I had no
food. He agreed that chocolate was allowed, but insisted that I should
have checked the box declaring that I was importing food products.
Since he was unhappy, he began to search my bag rather thoroughly and when
he found a small wooden plaque that Ruth had carved as a gift for the Martins,
he was REALLY unhappy. I had also checked the box saying that I had
no wood products. I had been dragging this luggage around the world
and it never occured to me that a small 6 inch (15 cm) carved and finished
wooden plaque could be of interest to anyone. When I read the form
asking if I was importing plants, wood products, . . . I was thinking
about lumber or live plants. I simply forgot that I had wood
with me. Anyone who has flown into Australia with a pencil and checked
the box that they were not importing wood products is also guilty!
At the end, I got off with a short lecture, but I was delayed quite a while
waiting for them to decide that I wasn't trying to wreck the entire ecosystem
of the continent of Australia with a box of chocolate and this small wooden
July 30, 2001- Perth, Australia
I can hardly believe that I'll be leaving Perth in just another four days. I'm having such a pleasant time visiting my good friends Jose and Dorita Martins, that I'll be quite sad to leave.
After Jose and Dorita picked me up from the airport on Saturday, they brought me to their lovely home and later in the afternoon we toured Perth a bit and visited the Art Gallery of Western Australia. There was a display of paintings by Claude Monet and some of the Japanese art that influenced him. Monet evidently had an extensive collection of Japanese art, and had seen many other Japanese paintings and prints, although he never traveled to Japan. He painted late in the 19th century, after Japan was just becoming open to the western world.
On Sunday morning, Dorita and I rose early and went for a run along the coast. It was my first opportunity to run along the coast of the Indian Ocean. Perth has beautiful white, sandy beaches, and although it is the middle of winter here, the temperature for running was very pleasant and I ran in shorts and a t-shirt.
Dorita's sister Guida came to visit later in the morning. It was very good to see Guida once again. I had not seen or spoken to since Sarah Fine's wedding on Madeira last August! We all (Jose, Dorita, Guida, Allyce, Justin and I) loaded into two cars and drove to Tumbulgum Farm, which is a farm south of Perth where they have a variety of demonstrated activities including sheep herding and sheep shearing. The trained sheep dogs are quite impressive in the way that they run and herd sheep. The sheep shearing was also impressive. I think the shearer told us that professional sheep shearers can shear a sheep in under 40 seconds! Emus, and kangaroos were also on display. We also watched a display of aboriginal boomerang throwing and spear throwing. It was cool.
We had a wonderful picnic lunch at which I partook of that wonderful food, anticipated eagerly by all tourists coming to Australia -- vegemite! Justin asked me, "Do you have anything like vegemite in America?" Usually, no matter what the food is, I can find something in America to which to compare. In the case of vegemite, the simple answer is, "no." After driving back to Perth in a driving rainstorm, we had a dinner of vegetable and cheese pasta, with penne pasta, pumpkin, feta cheese, green pepper, red pepper, and parmesan cheese. Dorita provided the recipe and I cooked! I enjoyed it a lot ( both the cooking AND the pasta).
On Monday morning, Dorita and I went to the local gym for a bike ride and a run. We rode the stationary bikes for a half hour and then ran for a half hour (5.3 km). It was a cool, drizzly morning, but a good morning for working out in the gym. After sit-ups and pushups, I think that we had earned a short visit to the spa. It was very pleasant.
It's now Monday evening, and in the afternoon, I finally managed to reconnect to the RHIT AFS server so that I could update my web page diary. I have been writing regularly on the computer, but today I was finally able to transfer the files to the RHIT server so that you all (presuming that anyone actually reads this journal!) can read about my latest travels. Sorry about the delay, but in places like Accra it is not always easy to make the connection, even if I have the time.
I thought by now that I might be sick of traveling, but I'm not. I have enjoyed all of the flights that I have been on so far and I am still looking forward to seeing Malaysia, New Zealand and Fiji. I am sorry that I will have to leave Perth so soon, because I am having such a nice time. I think that Allyce (rhymes with "fleece") and Justin, Jose and Dorita's two children, are quite delightful even though eleven year old Justin beat me at pool yesterday. Today, however, I had my revenge at chess. Justin is very good in school and also good at chess. Allyce, who is fifteen, is friendly, gregarious, beautiful and she even likes math and chemistry! It will be tough to leave Perth after being treated with such hospitality by this wonderful family.
Today was a beautiful, sunny day and we went to Fremantle, an historic city that is one of the oldest in Western Australia. The temperature was cool (high 60's F, ~20 C) Fremantle prison is one of Australia's premier historic sights. It was built by "convict" labour between 1850 and 1860 and was decommissioned in November 1991 after almost 140 years as a working prison. It was the last of the "convict" prisons built in Australia. The last hanging at Freemantle prison was in 1964. Capital punishment was abolished in Western Australia in 1984. In Australian-English, the word "convict" implies a criminal who was convicted and sent to Australia from Great Britian in the late 1800's. In American-English, the word convict indicates simply someone who has been convicted and sent to prison - a prisoner.
The British sent 10,000 male "convicts" to Western Australia. Before their arrival, fewer than 5,000 Europeans had settled in the Swan River Colony, where the prison was located. The last "convict" ships arrived in 1868 and it wasn't until 1886 that the British government ended the "convict" era in Australia by transferring Fremantle prison to the government of the Swan River Colony. The prison and the town are quite interesting.
telephone - (my apartment)
cell phone- 49-160-621-5617
Heart Surgery Lab - 49-6221-56-6260
fax - 49-6221-56-5305