Apr 272011
 
For Mom: A purple cow in the Kehl mall.

The Nitty Gritty

Holy Crudmonkeys we seem to have moved to Germany!  What the hefty-bags were we thinking?

So, as I said, now its time to learn how to live.  It is amazing what we don’t know.  We are relearning all the skills it takes to be a functioning member of society.  We are learning to drive, work, shop, get around, find a place to live and, oh yeah, communicate!  We are learning new laws, new hoops, new customs, new houses, new cars, new foods, new money and, new plants and animals (Crows here have white fuzzy beards!  Snails are really pretty!).  Basically, we really need a grown-up to show us how it is all done. 

Luckily, we often have one.  David’s work mate Sanja has taken us under wing and been simply wonderful.  She helped find this house, drives David to work every day, lent us beds for the kids, and today offered to take me food shopping in her car to make it easier.  Apparently she moved here from Croatia many years back and remembers how difficult it is to get set up in a new country where you don’t speak the language.  Definitely a wonderful friend to have.  But, we don’t want to take advantage or depend on her too much.  So, we need to learn to function as adults on our own.  Whoooboy this is going to be some work!

Yesterday was our first semi-normal day with David going to work.  We started the day by walking down to the town hall in Auenheim and filling out paperwork to say we were residents here.  David had said it would take 5 minutes- but that, apparently, is only when you have your grown-up with you!  For all us kids it took 10 minutes just to find the right room.  Then another 20 to fill out a short form.  We did eventually get through it.  We always find it odd that official forms in Europe all seem to ask religion.  My step-dad says this is because some of your taxes can go directly to your church if you wish.  There is no separation of church and state- more of a respectful coexistence.  Odd from our perspective, but perhaps understandable given local history.  

Practically Perfect

Next we all went to drop off the rental car in town, then the kids and I hustled off to shop while David hustled off to work.  The kids were definitely showing signs of wear at this point.  No one had fully adjusted to the time shift and folks were each displaying their own brand of tension.  DD was controlling, insistent and shrill.  DS was loopy, frenetic and unfocused.  DH was sharp and terse.  And I?  Well, of course, I was practically perfect in every way! 

Whatever our moods, our work was cut out for us.  The kids and I had a long shopping list, a backpack full of empty bags (none provided at the stores here), and a bus schedule to help us find our way back.  This was the first day we had been here that the stores were open, so we started by checking out many of the establishments on Hauptstrasse just to get the lay of the land.  Then we headed for the mall proper.

It is odd the things that we will focus on, but DS had gotten in his head that his clock was a key bit of home that he had lost.  So, I started right off by heading to the electronics store and let him select his own replacement.  This seemed to brighten his day.  But, DD was reaching her trip-expiration date at mach speed, so I whisked us off to the main supermarket, Edeka.  We deposited our Euro and grabbed a cart.

I could easily have spent hours there!  So may new things to check out and old friends in new, German garb to rediscover!  But, with limited time, limited child-patience and limited ability to carry items home, we tried to make it quick.  A few highlights:

  1. German markets look different from American markets because all the rows are lower.  You can see around the entire store even when you are in the middle of a row
  2. 3 rows devoted entirely to pasta!  DS was in Noodle-Heaven!
  3. Shelf-stable milk?  Yeah, an entire row of unrefrigerated milk.  That seemed to be the only variety that had lactose-free milk, too, so we bought it.  I *think* it has been cooked, but I need to do more research.
  4. Beef is hard to find.  I am not sure we saw any at all.  Lots of pork and chicken, though.  And there was a large fish counter, too, but I didn’t like the smell and since we were going to be at the bus stop for a while, I decided against it.

All in all I got 36 items for 96 Euros.  Not terrible, I suppose, especially since 1 was a 12 EU oven pan.  But, we still need so many things!  DS hustled us out with the intent of making the 11:22 bus, but with our load, there was just no way to get to the bus stop in time.  We watched as the bus pulled up and pulled out as we ran to try to catch it.  Ah well.  The next bus wasn’t for another hour, but with all the groceries we couldn’t really manage anything else, so we just hung out at the bus stop for a while before heading home.

While we were there a heavy man came and sat beside us and rolled a cigarette.  DS moved to the other side of me, but didn’t make a big deal of it.  Yay.  Then a loud German family came and sat next to us.  Something surprising we have noticed is that Germans in general are quite quiet!  Their default vocal volume is definitely lower than that of most Americans, and since we (especially me) are rather loud for Americans, we have to make a real effort not to boom over our German neighbors.  So, having a LOUD German family next to us was definitely of note.  As it happens, they seemed to not only be loud, but also rude.  Once they got on the bus one of them pulled out a really loud video game and proceded to play without regard throughout the trip.  When he first started everyone turned and looked incredulously, but they didn’t seem to notice or care.  As David noted, there are apparently asses all over!

DD guarding our bags at the bus stop.

The kids found a cool lizard

Kicking back later at home

David’s and my kick-back zone

Next up- Car and house hunting and the frustration and fun of foreign finances

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