Sunday, September 23, 2007

gong show: police, gypsies, cheap czech shots

what a title, hey? there is a logical reason for all three, believe me. it was definitely not a weekend without excitement. it all started on friday morning when i decided i'd drive to work, as we have a car now, instead of taking the metro/bus and arriving at work 30 minutes early after a 1.5 hour commute. work is only a 25 minute drive away. so i headed out on the route i'd planned the evening before, but after an hour of driving, i knew i was lost. i did eventually make it and was only 45 minutes late. thankfully my boss is totally laid back and cool, so it wasn't a big deal. you'd think i'd learn the first time, but that wasn't happening. on the way home i took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in downtown prague. 1PM on a friday, not the best time to be driving the narrow cobblestone streets of prague. somehow i managed to find my way home - again, after 1.5 hours of driving and many horns honked in my direction. it was a great learning experience though, and i wasn't stressed - i kind of enjoyed it actually. it just feels so nice to drive a car again. and in a city this beautiful, in the fall especially, i let myself enjoy it.

the second learning experience of the day came when jacks, sara, jason and i went for a stroll in our neighbourhood and to the 'underground' markets. they're cheap little vendors all in a row, right by the metro stop nearest us. i found this cute green jacket and tried it on, went to the mirror, then showed it to sara, jacks and jason who were a section away from me. this is all underground, connected, there's no distinction that the store ends or anything. to leave the store, you have to take steps up to the outside. as i'm standing there, i feel this SMACK on my back. i was kind of shocked. even a friend in jest wouldn't slap me with that kind of gusto. next thing i hear is a chinese lady screaming at me in czech and i turn to see her hands waving wildly in the air. i could tell from her body language and tone of voice that she thought i was trying to walk away with the jacket. i quickly said sorry and tried to explain to her that i was showing my friends. i followed her to the rack and gave the jacket back. sara had followed right behind me, and after i gave the jacket back we turned to leave. next thing you know, there's a snaggle-toothed gypsy lady latched onto both sara and i in a death grip that would put a cobra to shame. she was screaming at the TOP of her lungs in czech and we tried to explain to her the situation. but she wouldn't even listen to our broken czech. and she wouldn't let go. eventually she did, jason and jackie having returned at this point. i called michal, our agent, and he said to just leave. jason called billy (aia czech leader - he's lived here for 10 years) and billy said the same thing. so we all just turned to leave.

what happened next, i can't quite paint adequately with words. screaming, grabbing, chopping, crying, sara choking, a stretched out sweater, jason almost taking a chinese guy down, and finally us returning to the clothes rack to take a different approach. the older lady (snaggle-tooth), who we think was what they call a gypsy, was telling us to pay 500 czech koruns ($25) but we weren't allowed to take the jacket. it was strictly a punitive fine because they had "caught" me stealing. we weren't going with that, so they called the police. these are just a few of the things running through my head at the time... "we don't know if the police are corrupt".. "i'm going to jail"... "brokedown palace (the movie)"... "my parents are going to freak out"... "i'm going to have a record with interpol"... "is this really happening??" and on and on as i'm sure you can imagine, being the unemotional and 100% rational person that i am. long story somewhat shorter - the police arrived, talked to billy on the phone, let jackie and sara run and get jason and my passports, escorted us out of the market and gave us a ticket for 1000 kc ($50). i'm not quite sure what we paid for. billy advised us it was the simplest way to end the situation. it was that or go to the jail and figure out the story from there (assuming someone at the police station spoke czech). we went with the payment and walked away. whew. what a day.

but there's more. waiting at our flat was our czech friend, bara. she is the daughter of the club's president and it was her birthday. so she was picking us up to take us to a little down called melnik for dinner, a carnival and of course the disco. her dad had rented these cute little cabins for us to stay in, so it was an all night affair. almost the whole hockey team was there, so it was great to hang out with all of them. there were even a few of the players from years past in attendance, and they spoke fluent english having studied in north america. the carnival was fun. i went on the longest tornado ride in the history of the world. i thoroughly enjoy spinny rides, but i'm pretty sure my stomach was in my throat for most of the last 5 minutes of the ride. not even kidding, it was a marathon. we had some czech wine, candy and of course, alcohol. alcohol is so ridiculously cheap in this country. it's cheaper to buy beer on tap, than order a bottle of water. no joke. but of course, all the girls wanted to buy us shots and we had to sometimes hide from them. the first shot over dinner tasted pretty good. by 1AM at the bar, i decided i never want to so much as smell the stuff again. i was no where near intoxicated. not only does it taste disgusting, but it's cheap and therefore you'd probably have to do 10 shots to even get a buzz on. the three of us canadians peaced out at 1:30 to head back for bed. the girls went hard until 6am. they love to party here, that is for sure.

we woke up to have traditional czech food with bara and panchee, one of our teammates. the food was good. i can't say i'd eat it on a regular basis, but it was enjoyable for a once-in-a-while occurence. each plate was meat, usually pork, with either potatoes or dumplings (like potato bread), and with sauce, of course. desert was a crepe with ice cream or some deep friend plums. definitely different.

thanks for staying with me until the end. i realize i still haven't given the low-down on food, but that will come. i also have some reporting to do on work. those kids have taught me all there is to know about this culture!


Harmony said...

Wow. That is definitely deserving of one big loud GONG! Sheeeesh. Thanks for sharing the adventure- the whole underground thing with the choking and the smacking and the screaming- that was an intense read! Glad you're not in the slammer, though that would have been a pretty interesting read, too. :) Oh, the joys of a language barrier/MOUNTAIN.

heather said...

found your blog!!! had fun lastnight! my parents thought yall were pretty great...for canadians that is!

deb said...

HA! Chels, that is so funny. Hope you think so! Although freaky at the time. Oh man, I can totally picture you and Hearny in that situation... okay, I'm honestly laughing out loud. Miss ya ;)

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