Life on the Farm in the Czech Republic
Trip Start Apr 25, 2007
17Trip End Oct 03, 2007
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The Czech Republic changes every year I visit. In 1990, I remember standing in line with my mother at a tiny shop that sold whatever it happened to have (a battery, a box of tissues, ten potatoes) because we heard they had bananas. After an hour and by the time we got up to the counter, the bananas were, of course, gone. Now we go grocery shopping by car to our choice of supermarkets, from Tesco to Aldi to Kaufland to Norma and buy almost anything we could want
My father came here to teach languages at the Economic University in Cheb, in the western part of the country near the German border. He bought a flat with his wife in the town of Karlovy Vary, or Karlsbad as the Germans call it. Karlovy Vary is one of those old spa towns that Europeans would flock to at the turn of the twentieth century to drink the waters and walk the forests. They still do, only now there are more Russians than anyone else. In the center of town there is a Communist era building housing a geyser of hot, stinky water, and all along the river people walk with cups in hand, filling them at the different fountains and sipping the supposedly curative liquids. He retired two years ago and bought a lovely old farm farther east, near Pilsen, in the little town of Brody.
Here in the villages you can still experience life as it once was. My father's house sits on ten acres directly adjacent to a 250 acre park
So, life here is the opposite of Spain: quiet, industrious (always something to do on the farm), and private. The remnants of a society that lived through Communism still remain, especially with the older generation in the villages. So although we trade clover for potatos and strawberries for walnuts, village neighbors don't come over for dinner or the spontaneous bottle of wine. A few years ago we built a brick barbeque and pizza oven, and one night we took the neighbors across the road a few of the pizzas. I think they didn't quite know how to respond, and although they are courteous and watch out for us, there won't be any rousing parties any time soon. Life takes on a different rhythm out here, and one of my favorite things to do is to walk up the road for a view of Brody in the evenings. All I can see for miles beyond the red tiled roofs are fields, forests, and the occasional large hare jumping over the road. My days are filled with cleaning out the barn, sanding benches, moving bricks, watching baby birds grow until they leave the nest, building bonfires and roasting sausages. Life on a farm in the Czech Republic........