Germany: day 15.

Follow your dream on this path.

30th November 2010.

When you can wake up alive and see the sun on a frozen autumn morning it must be good, knowing you are going home to warm up makes it feel even more special. I have packed now and sent some messages to friends online, I said goodbye to the cat. I carried my bags downstairs. My friend was getting her dog checked at the vet for his flight papers; he needs this check up with his passport to say he is ok to fly and that he is not sick.

While waiting for the host to pick me up I go outside a take last minute photos of snow and ice and enjoy the warm sun on this clear day. About an hour later my host arrives with my friend and the dog. We go to town to meet the student that arrived from holidays, he was kind enough to organize and buy the train tickets for us to go to the airport. We said goodbye and waited for the train.

Natures ice carvings, the duck and the owl.

The train ride to the airport was nice and smooth, we got there with 4 hours to spare and found the Lufthansa desk. I had to now pay for the change in my ticket. I went and got my ticket and waited, I saw that there were free drinks and chocolates so I helped myself. I waited a little longer and waited more, about 3 hours later my friend was signaling me from downstairs to say she was going to check in. I asked the lady at the desk about the time it was taking, there were still 150 people in front of me which at the current rate are about 2 more hours. I had 35 minutes left to check in and I did not want to miss this flight. I asked the lady at the desk what why so many people, she explained the airport had been shut the day before and they are doing their best to organize flights for everyone. I explained all I had to do was pay for the change to my ticket. She told me to go to a cashiers counter and explain she sent me. It was all organized and I could finally go and check in. I had 25 minutes until the flight closed. The lady says she has to wait for an update on the flight, “please come back in 15 minutes”, sure ok.

Snow and lights.

I was nearly pacing but manage to make myself sit down, I just amused myself, I was watching the security guys walking around, armed with side arms and shot guns, I think this is a more effective way to deter possible criminals, It works for me, I wouldn’t misbehave here, Thailand or Malaysia. It gives me the sense of “we take security seriously” unlike another airport I have been to many times.  I go back after 15 minutes and check in walk very fast to my gate and get there with 10 minutes to spare. I am glad we left 6 hours early, I had hoped to have 2 hours to relax before boarding, silly me. Ha-ha.

Well, in case you wondered, we never did dance in the snow.


Germany: Day 14.

buds on ice.

29th November 2010.

Today is another beautiful day. I had some coffee and conversation with my landlord, got ready and went to the host’s house to do some more lessons. It was the usual walk some new things to photograph and watch a few birds flying around.

I see some places near the apartment were we could dance in the snow. I am not holding my breath though, 1 thing I have learnt is that (generally speaking from my experience, so don’t get offended), is that they promise you the world and if you’re lucky you may get an island. It is funny how many Argentineans I have said this to actually agree with me. I arrive at the apartment to be greeted by the dog and my friend and make coffee, I am told more stories of the hosts’ adventures into sleaziness, same old thing. I get told it is under control and that she is just venting, I almost wonder if she likes the attention but I don’t judge or say too much.

Frozen fruit.

We relaxed for about 30 minutes when the host arrives with his salsa friend and his daughter. We start the lesson. Today he is a little different; I am feeling resentment towards me. I have no idea why but I am starting to think what I am being told is true. I notice his behavior when I am helping my partner with demonstrating some steps. I was helping him and his partner and I see he is not really listening to me, I am relying on him to translate to her but he doesn’t do it. He just looks at me and says “yes” and then does nothing. I realized the host was jealous of me a little while ago but now he is letting it affect him and his lesson and the lessons of his partner, very sad and frustrating, I stayed calm and professional and did my best to explain everything to her.

Snow covered trees with ambient night lights.

We had a few more lessons until about 2.30 pm and then we broke for a coffee and waited for the next student to come. The student that returned from holidays came a little earlier and we spoke a while, we spoke about the videos outside and in the clearing across the road where we had a view of the snow covered mountains behind us. I looked at my friend and she just mad some smart comments and said later when the sun is out more. I just said it is late and we only have today left, she said we still have the morning before we go on the train to the airport.

After about 3 more hours of classes, we were taken out for dinner at a local Pub restaurant; it was nice and warm with soft ambient lighting setting a comfortable scene for a farewell dinner. We had some nice food and chatted for hours and then a few people we met at the salsa night came and said hi. We were told that a few of the Germans were coming to Buenos Aires in December, (great you mean I have to see the host again?).

Snow covered trees.

We spoke about the next day and what was happening with the train and what time we were meeting, we were going by train because it was the most reliable way due to the amount of snow fall. We were leaving 6 hours earlier to allow for delays and to relax, my friend liked this idea, she enjoyed the idea of not being there (near the host) and going home to where she felt safe. We called it a night.  I went to my home and chatted to “K” for a while and then packed my clothes ready for the departure tomorrow.

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Germany: day 13.

Fungus and ice.

28th November 2010.

Hello again, I have a lazy start today, I took my time walking to the hosts house, I arrive as they are sneaking out of the garage about to go to town. I tagged along to see what I could take photos of. They went to get doggy supplies. He (the dog) was running low on food. (I was expecting my friend to buy another coat for him).

Next stop was the big electronics supermarket, I have never seen a place as big as this, it makes the big stores at home look like the corner shop. My friend was amazed, she was introduced to a new 52 inch 3D television. She was like a little girl, naïve, (actually I think this was normal), she enjoyed watching for a while with doggy in lap. I needed a new hard drive for my backups

Ice hanging decorations just in time for Christmas.

as I had filled up the one I had. And she bought a tripod for her camera.

On the way back we drove to the top of a big hill, the view was lovely, on the way back to the house we drove past some lovely places where we could video ourselves dancing, (she still thinks I am crazy) but she is now considering the possibility. We only have today and tomorrow to do it. She say maybe later if the sun stays out. (OK I am getting a hint of no here).

We return do have several lessons that afternoon we had a few hours free but it had started to snow so we did not do the video today. On the way back we drove to the top of a big hill, the view was lovely, on the way back to the house we drove past some lovely places where we could video ourselves dancing, (she still thinks I am crazy) That was it for today. Good night.


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Germany: day 12.

Ice drops after it melts.

27th November 2010.

Good morning world. Today starts off good, (that’s a good start. Ha-ha). I walk to the hosts place and take photos of the trees and icicles that have formed on branches and other objects along the way. It was a warm 1 degree sunny morning, it was surprisingly comfortable. I only noticed my hands were cold (more like freezing) after taking photos for 20 minutes without gloves.

I get to the hosts house and have coffee, I just love this automatic coffee machine, just tell it how strong and how big the mug is and press the button, I kept forgetting to reset the size to the small cup everyone else used and they would end up with a mess, (I don’t see the sense of having a thimble of coffee, with 3 sips, I used a mug, maybe 20 sips).

Ice crystal forms.

We went for a drive to town to see his travel agent and rearrange a direct return flight for me or at least one that did not go through Brazil. That was easy, all set 30 minutes now and $100 at the airport counter and I am organized. The host chats a little, he was mostly casting a few lines fishing for answers about my friend. I didn’t give much away as I was playing dumb, I seem to be pretty good doing that, (I wonder if being a man helps with this art?).

We head back to the house, today we are having a few tango lessons and something a little different, my friend asked everyone to come hang around after their class. Today we were teaching Chacarera and Argentinean folk dance (this should be fun). We had 8 people for the first class, we taught the basic steps, it was good considering and also funny, the men were struggling with the macho attitude and the women couldn’t quite understand the flirting with the skirt. I demonstrated the women’s steps, my friend commented I did the skirt part really well, (years of experience of course, I am not saying anymore).

Snow covered tree at night.

We did the same for a second class this was a bit of a treat for the students, I don’t know how much they will remember but it was fun and everyone laughed.

Today I told my friend I would like to do something different, I wanted to dance in the snow with a view of the mountains behind us or snow covered trees. There are many beautiful places nearby with clearings we can dance in. It would only take a few minutes of being outside and the sunny days were lovely. Needless to say, she said I was LOCO!


Germany: day 11.

26th November 2010.

Red berries on ice.

Good morning, it’s Friday, I hope? POETS day! (Piss Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday).

I leave a little early today and walk the long way, I go past the local supermarket to buy some dinner and junk food, some cold meat and frozen pizza will do for me, I hope the others like it.

Well not really, I am here till the end of the lessons and that may be late today, the time table for now says 10pm. The host is first up today with his daughter and her friend. The daughter has only done about 12 lessons and is a natural she has great potential, she should go great when she visits Buenos Aires at the end of the year. Another salsa person comes and the host partners her for a lesson.

Close up, ice crystals.

The drunk was the second last couple today, it was great to see them walk in together. There was something different about them today, he looked happier and she looked like a young woman again, she had a loving glint in her eye and slightly cheeky grin and her humour was more sexy, (I don’t need to understand German for that interpretation), her dancing was much better and connected. It was as though she found herself and a renewed love and respect for her husband. Most importantly was we could not smell any alcohol. I am not sure but I think Tango had a little to do with this transformation and lots of love and patience from her husband. I believe this was an important lesson for me and the others that saw this happen over the week.

Chilled flowers.

We have about 8 lessons today. Tomorrow I have organised the host to take me to a travel agent to change my flight back so I don’t have to go through Brazil. I had received an answer from the Frankfurt consulate, (only 2 weeks and still waiting for the one from Australia), they did not really answer my question of “Do I need a transit visa for a one and a half hour stopover in Sao Paulo?” The basic answer was “We suggest you get one in case you want to leave the airport.” OK, all set. I cooked the pizza shared a few slices and enjoyed dinner.

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Germany: day 10.

Ice crystals.

25th November 2010.

Another day on the farm! I slept well after chatting to my friend “K” in Mexico. We have been chatting for the last week or so about my trip to Mexico, I have been going over dates and places to stay, “K” is helping with danger assessment so I am as safe as possible while being close to the city and the local sites.

Let us fast forward, Blah-blah-blah, coffee and more complaints. I don’t like to judge but I don’t think a man should not sneak into go into a woman’s bedroom and wake her up trying to be sweet just because you are awake, especially after the answer is “NO” every time, (that’s putting it nicely). I listen again, my ears hurt and I give her some advice but she is a big girl and she is playing her way, (I know I will never understand so that’s all I can do). I have now sent an email to the Brazilian consulate in Frankfurt because I have

Ice forms on a leaf.

not received an answer from the one in Australia, (so much for 2 days). I need an answer today or I need to change flights, I don’t want to be stranded in Germany if I can help it.

The student that returned from holidays was first up today he had some time off from work this morning and squeezed a quick one in. He wanted to tidy up some technique, he had just come back from another country that spoilt him with fancy moves and no style. He enjoyed the lesson and booked in again for the afternoon.
We had an hour to ourselves and practiced a little for tonight, we will be performing at a salsa club, this will be my first real performance, in front of an audience in a foreign country and I have only danced for a few hours with the friend. (I like a challenge), we practiced a new step together, (I think I get it). We have a few more lessons today then we get ready to go to the salsa club.

Snow covered tree at night.

We go to the salsa club and relax a little, my friend gives the DJ a CD of music. We have a quick dance of salsa to warm up and then the organiser announces the dancers from Buenos Aires, (it was true I did come from Buenos Aires, direct). We are greeted with a lot of clapping, this is encouraging, (don’t clap now clap later, if you still feel the same).
We start with a Tango, I did great other than some obvious errors, (a blind man could have seen), next a Milonga, it went well (no noticeable mistakes to me at least) and then a Vals, we had lots of applause, (this could get addictive). We were asked for a encore, so we made them be for about 10 seconds and then we danced a Chacarera, it was good, I would have given me a 7 out of 10. We danced a little salsa and mingled with the other dancers for a while. That was it for the night, we had some video taken, I guess it may get leaked onto facebook or youtube one day.

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Germany: day 9.

A frozen drop of water hanging on.

24th November 2010.

I woke up feeling good considering I had a late cold night. The usual routine, quick coffee, chat to the landlord, pat the cat, (I upset her today, I patted too long).
I walk to the house, snap more photos and look for places of interest, I have an idea but I am not sure if someone will be interested. I ring the bell, the door opens, the dog runs down to says hi, (actually more like Yap Yap), complaints and coffee again.

Today we have a few lessons lined up, the host was first, he returned with a salsa friend so he could partner her, then the daughter was also coming along next, the student that

Ice bridges.

returned was also coming later in the afternoon. A few of the other couples and the drunk was also booked in for today.

The host was being his suave self, I am getting used to him, his attitude is all about flaunting money and he is also a clean freak. He is starting to drive my friend and I crazy. He sees a scuff mark on the floor and he gets the cleaner out and cleans and cleans, (every 5 minutes), he is also starting to fidget lots and commenting and even turning lights up and down during the lessons, (I thought these were Tango lessons not a romantic dinner).

The drunk came for her lesson, I was happy to see her and her partner seemed happy and looking forward to the lesson. My friend worked on her, explaining the importance of the embrace and letting the man lead, she was still having some difficulty with that.

Ice clumps on a branch.

After about 30 minutes we saw an amazing thing, it was like a light was switched on, her eyes changed from confusion and guardedness torelaxed and accepting. (Ding) the proverbial penny had dropped somewhere in her head and she relaxed and really started to enjoy the lesson and follow her husband. He also enjoyed this; he was a very patient man, from what I observed he was there for her to enjoy and learn with her weather she was good or not. (WOW).

That was the highlight of the evening.

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Germany: day 8.

Ice crystals on a leaf.

23rd November 2010.

Today starts off more or less the same; the cat purrs now and lets me pat her for about a minute. I have breakfast and leave for the house. It is a beautiful crisp sunny day.

I take a few photos along the way of icicles and drips. I am still surprised to see colours in the plants after the last few days. There is a rose bush with a red flower? Is it antifreeze or the flowers got so cold that they didn’t have time to fade?

I get to the house greet the dog and my friend and make coffee, (not in that order), I hear more stories about the host, we chat about the day to come and listen to some music. She tells me we are performing in a few days at the local salsa club; this will be a nice change to the routine.

Ice clinging to the fibres of the leaf.

We have a few lessons today; one of her old students is returning from a trip away and will be doing lots of lessons over the next few days. The day was good. The students were improving and enjoying themselves more. We did have an unusual class, the couple that had the drunk woman had returned today. They were pretty happy and wanted to start, she smelt less like alcohol and was able to stand better. She was still trying to tell the man what to do and was still uncomfortable with embracing the partner but it was a little better than the other day. They did OK today, they are returning in the next day or so. The student that returned from his holiday had come to a lesson earlier in the afternoon and rebooked for one more at the end of the day for 10 pm.

After his lesson he invited us to dinner, we accepted and went for a drive. My friend got dressed for the cold, this was hilarious, (maybe you had to be there), she had on about 3

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layers of warm clothes in the house, then she put on a jumper, a coat, beany and a scarf, she also had 3 pairs of socks on and gloves, then she grabbed her dog and carried him to the car so his feet wouldn’t get cold. She was also terrified of the road so the student drove nice and gentle for her, (except for 3 or 4 times). We had a lovely dinner in a warm café restaurant and chatted until about 1230 am then went home. It was a lovely night,  I grabbed my camera and started taking photos of the trees and streets using the ambient lighting.



Germany: day 7.

Germany day 7.

Snow covered wonderland.

22nd November 2010.

Good morning. So far it is a normal morning, nearly. It had been snowing lightly all night I walk down stairs to see the ground covered in snow, it was beautiful, it was also the birthday of the landlord, (Happy Birthday). I take photos of the small garden this man has and the trees covered in snow, also across the road there are small mountains (or big hills) they are with against a frosty sky, It has been a long time since I have seen snow, This is just lovely and for now not too cold, it was a bright start to my day.

One of the snow covered trees in the back yard.

I grab my gear pat the cat and leave for my usual walk. Today I get to look around and take photos of the snow and ice. The homes, trees hills and even the cars covered in snow look much more peaceful than usual. There are bushes covered in snow with red berries, I have never thought about this before but the colours against the snow are an unexpected sight. The stream with its white banks, trees overhanging the banks and the running water are nice, I see the park benches. I have seen them every day but not taken much notice but today I thought that they were a great idea to sit there and admire nature.

I arrive at the house and the usual complaints and the coffee. The host is not being a gentleman with my friend, it has become obvious why he does not want me there and this is affecting my friends’ health. He is also showing signs of jealousy when I dance or talk to her for too long even if it is in a class while teaching. We have 6 classes today spreading from 1 pm to 9 pm, there is little time to relax because when there are no classes the host wants to be tutored.

Leaf with ice crystals on it.

While the host his late night tutoring session, I go and cook dinner to leave them alone and escape, I get asked to help from time to time but I don’t hang around. We eat dinner, (grilled chicken breast with a cream, cheese mushroom sauce with a hint of garlic, some vegetables and garlic bread). We looked at the time table, the days were getting longer and I have also noticed the classes were getting changed around and finishing later. I went home for the night and relaxed. Good night.
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Germany: day 6.

Above the main entrance to Munster cathedral.

21st November 2010.

It was nice and early on Sunday and the plan was to enjoy a day off seeing sites around the city. Today I get to pat the cat. I have learnt she has a 30 second tolerance and then watch out. It was a nice morning, it had rained lightly all night, the ground was moist the sun was out, no breeze and the temperature crisp. I was to meet my friend and the host at his place and go wherever they wanted, he knew I wanted take photos of the city and places of interest.

Armed with my camera pack I walk to the hosts place. I arrive and find that there was no one there.  I wait a while and send a message but I get no reply so I head back to my place to wait a while longer. I felt a stood up, I realised why but that is other story. I relax and after an hour or so I decide to go for a walk to town myself.

A few of the colourful buildings in the square.

The town is a 3 or 4 kilometers away, one road, not much chance to get lost, so I go for walk. I enjoy the walk, I pass a few small shops, stone walls and a mixture of old and new buildings. I get to the river and bridge and stop to take photos of dragons, there are big steel dragons on the corners of the bridge and large coats of arms in the centers. I continue walking to towards town; I watch the trams and buses and then remember thinking ‘little chance to get lost’, well, I wasn’t lost but I couldn’t remember which turn to take to get to where I wanted to be.

The water runs along side many bulidings and under this building to come out the other side..

A few hundred meters late I see a familiar site turn left and head up the street to get to where I wanted, (I said I wasn’t lost), I walk along the road and take some photos of a few buildings with grand stone doorways and statues in the forground. There is a canal with water running along the side of the buildings, this is something I haven’t seen before. I follow the stream of water up and see that it flows from under one of the university buildings, wow.

I follow the cobble streets to the Munster cathedral were I take photos of this old building, with carved stone decorations, pigs, goats, rams and more. I have only ever seen this type of building in the movies. I shelter from the drizzling rain hiding my camera under my jacket and take photos of the square, There are some colourful buildings and golden statues and a fountain.

It was starting to get late and the temperature was getting lower. I started to walk back; I didn’t want to get stuck out in the cold and the rain was starting again. It was getting heavy enough to be a worry for me and my camera equipment. I asked the universe to stop the rain for me so I don’t get wet and also to make it ‘perfect’. (that is my version of a prayer,

One of the many stone figures outside the Munster cathedral.

yes that may sound silly).

It was not more than a few minutes later that the rain had stopped and I see a few soft white fluffy things fall to the ground, a few bounce off my jacket and then I realised that it has not only stoped raining but it had just started to snow. It was bouncing off me and I wasn’t getting wet. I guess the universe had to get the water from the sky and onto the ground to make it ‘perfect’, snow does the trick for me.

“You always get what you ask for, just not how you expect it”

I returned to the house and did a few classes and later returned home for the night. I had an amazing day.

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