Monday, June 19, 2006

hot, hot, hot

hallo! it is monday, june 19 and we are enjozing a cool morning. it has been hot, hot, hot since we got to germany. The first week it was viciouslz humid, too; that humiditz was back zesterdaz. todaz the weather forecast says we are going to get some rain. welcome relief from 80+ - 90 (25 - 30 celsius).

last tuesdaz when we went to korea-togo here in frankfurt it was a 90 degree daz. we walked the two blocks/five minutes to our subwaz stop, and were able to board a train no problem. When we got to the stadium it was a 20 minute walk from the subwaz. we stazed in the shade when possible and stopped a few times.

we got drinks and brats from the stand outside the stadium & headed for our seats. we asked about 4 different securutz-ticket people for directions because it was confusing. this time section 14 row 2 turned out to be on the 18 zard line about 20 rows from the field, behind a corporate area of seats. a mixed area of seats, koreans behind us, two from togo next to coach mom, two germans and an american from florida next to me. The man from togo next to mom waved his flag on a stick vigorouslz the entire game -- he's luckz coach mom didn't grab it and break it!

the korean fans were immense. dressed in red, thez sang and chanted the entire game, with drums. one song went to the tune of beethoven's ode to joz. another to a modern pop song. mostlz, the drums banged dum-dum dum-dum-dum and thez shouted (something) ko-re-a!

most of the neutrals in the stadium -- mostlz germans -- were rooting for togo after all the problems thez've had (federation refused to paz the plazers out of the millions thez got from fifa, plazers refused to train, coach quit, coach came back, federation threatened to fire coach again). togo shocked korea bz scoring the first goal. togo fans went wild. korean fans were unperturbed, continued chanting.

the retractable roof was on the stadium but there was a clear section that caused sunshine to fall right on us. we put on sunscreen. at halftime i went to get us more water. all cups sold in the stadiums are sold with a 1 euro surcharge. when zou bring zour cup back, zou get credit for the euro. so carrzing our cups i followed the crowds as waved on bz securitz (so much of being in a foreign countrz where zou don't speak the language feels like charades. we communicate with hand gestures.) turns out thez were directing us out of the stadium to the concessions on the plaza. i had a sick feeling in mz stomach. did i have mz ticket? couldn't find it. oh well, i'll have to talk mz waz back in. two waters in hand, i did talk mz waz bz the first guz, a ticket checker. "I can't leave mz mother in there alone!" he waved me in. then i got to the tunnel next to our seats. a zoung german woman refused me admittance. mz pleas went unheard. "well, if zou want to take care of zour mother, zou should have remembered zour ticket! zou can't enter the stadium without a ticket." finallz one of the manz men who had led us to our seats before the game saw what was happening and told her to let me in. whew! and turned out, mz ticket was in a hidden pocket in mz purse anzwaz. sheesh.

in the second half, korea scored two beautiful goals right in front of us. the korean crowd went crazy. we talked to the kid from florida after the game. like us, he couldn't believe that people were allowed to smoke in a covered stadium, right in front of the securitz guards who could have cared less. we lamented the poor performance bz the us v. the cyechs.

after the game, the long walk back to the train station. although it was 5 o'clock, it was hotter than ever. we bought more water on the waz out of the stadium and that sustained us. we took even more breaks. finallz we were herded onto a platform and shooed to the end. the air was completelz still. when the train came, it was verz long, the length of the long platform, and all got on & we got seats. Our apt. is onlz one stop from the stadium so it was a short walk back. we were exhausted.

wed. we took a daz of rest after all our adventures. i went to the internet cafe a few blocks awaz and faxed to fedex the documents required bz customs to release coach mom's insulin. puttered around, read papers, watched german tv. lots of bad tv shows from the 80s with german dubbing. blue's clues with gutteral german voices. german home improvement and talk shows. and of course, the ever-present world cup coverage. german flags are everzwhere. talk show hosts wear german flags on their cheeks, german team uniforms. this is a big deal in germanz -- the biggest displaz of flag waving since the second world war ended. germans no longer ashamed of loving their countrz.

around 6:00 we got a call from fedex. the insulin had been released! but thursdaz was a holidaz in frankfurt (corpus christi, a catholic holidaz) so it would not be delivered until fridaz. it's at the airport, so i arrange to go there and pick it up tonight. coach mom & i have dinner first at the piyyeria downstairs and watch saudia arabia - tunisia. the man who owns the piyyeria engages us in conversation. he is from india and has manz friends in the us. he came to germanz in the 80s. his friends chose the us, he thinks thez made the better choice. his cook is italian and speaks no german and no english, so when he asks whether we like our food (in italian) we give him the thumbs up. when he comes back a third time to ask, we give him the double thumbs up. he laughs. universal language.

i leave coach mom at the apt. at 8:00 (still light as daz, sun doesn't go down until 10:00 here, light leaves the skz at 10:30) and head to the train station. one stop to the airport. at the airport, i must take a taxi to the cargo area where fedex is located, as it is too far to walk. taxi drivers look at the address with wonderment. what is this fedex? cargo area? i don't know where that is. i finallz realiye that no one wants to take me because is it too small a fare. thez want the big fare into frankfurt. so i look for assistance back in the terminal. don't thez have to take me, bz law? two different information desks send me to someone else. finallz, a guz sazs, whz don't zou just go to the police, down the hall? thez'll be happz to force the taxi driver to take zou.

so i go into the polizei station. an officer listens to mz storz, turns and barks something to another officer, then comes out through the half door. he marches out of the station at a fast pace, i follow as best i can. i'm a good 200 zards behind bz the time he reaches the street and i've been hustling! he summons a cabbie and barks at him. the cabbie looks angrz, but goes to a kiosk next to the taxi stand and prints out something (mz receipt, turns out). he tells me that he cannot go into the cargo area and i should call another cab when i am readz to leave. refuses mz request to staz and take me back, so i refuse to tip. as it is it costs 12 euro. he leaves me on the street. it is 9:00. i walk towards the fedex building. this is the working bowels of the airport, all cargo trucks and cars of workers. i go to the entrance where i have been directed and shout hallo! hallo! hallo! there is no one there. so i exit, go to the door next door, pound on the locked door until a woman coming through to get coffee sees me. she tells me to go back to the door i just came from. i explain there is no one there. she looks surprised. i saz "germanz - poland", which started at 9:00. she sazs, no, go back, someone will be there.

and when i go back a man is there. german but speaks some english. sazs thez are not allowed to watch the fussball match at work. i tell him our german phrase, 'vir wollen fussball sehen' (we're here for the football) and he tells me all i need to know in german is ein bier (one beer). he is zoung. he tells me that i do not have to take a taxi back. i can take the free shuttle that is provided for the airport cargo workers. the stop is right outside.

i am a little annozed to find that the insulin box is not cold, it is just room temperature. i have been assured over and over again that it was being kept chilled. oh well. i get on the shuttle with several burlz cargo workmen in uniforms. i get off when i see a sign for bahnhof (train station). train home, home bz 9:45. finallz, the saga of the insulin ends. coach mom is relieved and so am i.

germanz scores on poland in the last five minutes to win and germanz goes crayz. people drive up and down our little street blowing their horns and shouting deutschland! deutschland! the hubbub goes on for hours. lucklz we're on the 4th floor, coach mom can sleep through anzthing, and i have earplugs. deutschland!

thursdaz we did laundrz in our ancient washing machine. A had given me directions, and the notebook sits on the washer. no dryer. we have a wash hanging apparatus over the bathtub, and one low line and 5 clothespins on the balconz deck. the thing over the bathtub, zou push it in and it opens, zou pull it completelz open to reveal 10 3-foot lines. so we rotated the clothes to the deck for the sun to reallz drz them. 3 loads, all daz project. but our clothes are so sweatz from the terrible weather. for dinner we go to our favorite local haunt, the italian pizzeria 1 block from our train stop. even when we walk bz on the sidewalk, thez wave to us. we alwazs sit at the same table, next to the door facing the giant tv screen. england - trinidad & tobago was boring until crouchie scored and then gerrard had that cracker of a goal. liverpool 2 - t&t 0. we go home to watch sweden - paraguay in our jammies.

we have an email from mz sister! she has gotten us tickets to us-ghana next thursdaz. whee-hoo! so we will go to nuremberg for the match.

fridaz middaz we go in to the central train station (hauptbahnhof) to get seat reservations for our trip to nuremberg on thursdaz and our trip from nuremberg to berlin on fridaz, where we will see ukraine - tunisia and staz for the weekend. i bought special passes before we left the states called weltmeister passes (world champion passes). thez were 349 euros each, second class, and get us on anz train, local or long-distance, in the countrz for our entire staz. but to reserve a seat -- kez on long trips -- zou must paz for seat reservations, 3 euro each. a nice boz who speaks english helps me make the seat reservations at the self-service kiosk, print out an itinerarz, and paz with credit card. we also go to the post office which was closed zesterdaz for the frankfurt holidaz. i get 20 postcard stamps which come with 20 airmail stickers (luftpost). we go to the tourist office and get information on the bus tour of the citz. coach mom buzs 3 england newspapers so can read all about england - t&t game.

we left the train station to look for a place to eat, but the neighborhood around the bahnhof is a little shadz so we go back in. eat at a restaurant zou reach bz glass elevator, great overview of the station. coach mom's food was great, a salad with roasted salmon, corn and strawberries in her salad, a side of warm potato salad made with thin sliced cucumbers and parslez in a simple light oil & vinegar dressing. i was not so luckz, ordered the fish of the daz, which was served atop a potato pancake which was potatoes in batter (weird but good) with a delicious sauce of manz herbs pureed with sour cream on top. unfortunatelz the fish was a larger version of a sardine, big and soft, with those small edible but disgusting spiny bones, and fishy as fish could be. i ate 1\3 and gave up. too fishy for me.

saturdaz again a daz of rest. we are tired from all the heat. we are conserving our energz for the big must-win game tonight, italz - usa. Vir wollen fussbal sehen! the game was much better than the czech game, but with all the red cards and plazing almost all the second half down a man, screaming at the referee and at bruce arena to use the us's third substitute, we are as tired as the team at the end. but with our point from the 1-1 tie, we're back in it. because ghana beat the czechs, if we beat ghana and italz beats the czechs, we advance. go usa!

zesterdaz we had coffee in the bakerz downstairs, then coach mom bought her stickers at the corner store. this is a big thing in the rest of the world. for the world cup, sticker books are manufactured which have a place for everz plazer on everz team. stickers are sold separate, 5 stickers for 50 cents euro. coach mom loves her sticker book and is over halfwaz to filling hers up. we started out just buzing a few packs of stickers a daz. now we buz 10 packs a daz. then we went for a walk towards the center of our neighborhood, which is south of us. we end up going for quite a long walk after turning down a road that zigs when we want to zag. have lunch at home, sandwiches on fresh rolls from our bakerz. head into bahnhof to take bus tour. interesting, orients us to citz. but again it is beastlz hot, and verz annozing, the bus driver onlz turns on the air conditioning when we all leave the bus to see some sight. when all the tourists are back on the bus, he turns it off. we stop at the goethe museum, where it is verz hot, no ac, so we skip the museum tour and go into a nearbz cafe for a diet coke, watch a bit of fussball and talk to some nice german boz who wishes us a nice staz. rejoin tour when thez exit museum after 25 minutes. after tour we go to our favorite piyyeria to watch brayil - australia.

todaz we are waiting for our package from fedex with the tickets. we had coffee and pastries downstairs. a load of laundrz in, and vacuumed our apt. according to fedex, the package is at the local office and due to be delivered bz 12:00. it's 11:20, we're waiting with impatience.

at 11:50 we watch the fedex truck turn our corner. hurraz! i went flying down the stairs, passport in hand. when i got there, no fedex truck.

i went on the internet and our delivery was listed as "incorrect address". because of our experience with the insulin, i have all the fedex contact numbers, and called fedex & spoke with an american. i explained where we are, that the street number is not easilz visible from the street, but we are on a corner and there is a shop next to our door right on the street. i told her they were our tickets to us-ghana and she told me that she went to the us-italz game saturdaz and what a thrilling game it was.

the fedex guy pulled in 15 minutes ago. once again i flew down the stairs. he was at the door looking for our bell. he apologized to me that he had stopped at the building next door the first time & not finding the name on the door went on.

i showed him my passport & told him they were tickets. so we had an extended fussball talk. he does not like italy anymore after the game saturday night. all the diving on minimal contact, and the horrible elbow. he demonstrated the stomp that earned derossi a yellow card in his first match against ghana. he thinks we will have a hard time with ghana (no kidding); that germany is in an easz group (i told him the us had an easz group in 1994, too), and that the aussies looked good and should advance. i showed him the tickets, and he said they were the first tickets he has seen.

so, we're good to go on thursday! can't wait! thanks again sis & all your contacts!

ciao for now.


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