Germany (Part 3)
The Germans are friendly provided you are introduced to them, but initiating small talk with strangers is a no-no. When I said hello to an old couple walking a dog in the park, they recoiled as if I had pulled a gun on them. Kathi yanked my arm, and scolded me for behaving outside of the German norm.
The Peisnitz Insel
Is the park opposite Kathi's house.
"If a tick drops from a tree and sucks your blood, do not pull it out. We must see a doctor," Kathi said at the beginning of our first romantic stroll in the park.
"Why?" I asked, looking up at the branches and quickening my pace.
"If you pull the body out, the head stays under your skin, and you can get Lyme's disease. My friend's mom got very sick from this."
Through the forest, we descended down to the River Saale. Kathi bought me a delicious lemon ice cream. We stopped on a bridge to watch a beaver swimming by the bank. We took a mini train ride, the Peisnitz Express, operated by a driver and a little boy in a dark-blue GDR uniform who waved coloured signals, and frowned at all of my attempts to initiate small talk with him.
The Rote Ochse
This former prison, now a museum, is a ten-minute walk from Kathi's. The cell furniture and carpenter's workshop are decades old, but walking a run of cells reminded me of some parts of Joe Arpaio's jail system. Then I came to the execution room, death cell, and the room for the disposal of corpses. It was hard not to imagine what horrors had happened here. Outside of the routine torture in the Rote Ochse, the Nazis killed 549 people, and the Stasi an unknown number. Mostly political prisoners.
Kathi's neighbour, Mario, told me that the Russians transporting prisoners into the Rote Ochse were a prisoner short so they just snatched a local person and imprisoned him. "The Russians were not too nice," Mario added.
Food and Drink
Kathi is a vegetarian, a rarity here. So I've only viewed typical German meals such as bratwurst, schnitzel, and roulade from a safe distance in restaurants and they did not look inviting.
"All Germans love Sauerkraut," Kathi said.
"That's why the Americans call us Krauts," Paul added.
Kathi has catered to my vegetarian needs, even going so far as to cook curry for the first time. I've been trying many kinds of cheese. My favourite is Saint Albray mild & würzig. I can't get enough of the strawberries, salted macadamia nuts and flavourful yoghurts such as Landliebe Jogurt.
I like the paprika bread. In general, the bread is grainy, less processed and strong tasting. Germans do not go for sliced loaves, but for fresh bread from the bakery. Kathi thinks English bread is too sweet.
East Germans are serious beer drinkers. Two favourites are Hasseröder and Becks. But I prefer less manly drinks such as the fruity Eiswein.
I also like the blood-orange juice.
Sex on the TV
Breasts are prevalent on daytime TV. In the words of Jörg, Kathi's brother: "In Germany they only don't show the vagina and the penis when it is hard." Anything else goes, and at nighttime the commercials for sex 900 numbers are pornographic. I was quite enjoying this until an old age pensioner came on, fondling her breasts, giving them a good slow roll while urging me to pick up the phone to talk to a 60+ year old for 99 cents a minute.
"Look, Shaun, Look!" Kathi just yelled.
It's 11:21pm and Kathi's pointing at the TV: a couple are having sex on the bonnet of a car. And on another channel, four female tongues are licking a whipped substance off two pairs of pierced breasts. God bless German television.
I set off for the high street in the hope of buying a distinctly-German T-shirt. I was delusional. All of the clothes are American and English. In every other store I could have bought a T-shirt with New York, Los Angeles or Chicago on it. I resorted to asking sales assistants where I could find German T-shirts, only to be laughed out of several stores.
My vacation is almost over, and I've had a great time. Kathi has spoiled me in every way possible, and I feel fully revitalised after my workaholism in England. We only fell out two times. Once after I told a sales assistant with pink, red, and silver streaked hair that her hair looked cool: Kathi didn't take kindly to this. The second time was in the disco, Objekt 5, when Kathi introduced me to a friend, emphasising how handsome he was: I didn't take kindly to this but I guess it was her form of payback. So it looks like Kathi will be visiting me in England in late July to continue this romance.
A new writer: the next blog is from a lifer I met in prison who is joining our team at Jon's Jail Journal.