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Monday, 26 June 2006

Laundry Day

I asked the guy at my hotel this morning where I could do a load of laundry and he drew me a map to a laundry mat. I walked along the map route, but found nothing. A woman in a pink dress with a white flower pinned to it asked if she could direct me. She walked Nicole and I to the laundry mat, which was closed because it was sunday. I asked her if she knew another one but she couldn't think of any that weren't also closed. I was wearing my last pair of clean underwear and looking a bit consternated.

"You could do laundry in my flat." she offered, "but I am going to church now. I'll come back this way in an hour." I thought briefly. I could wander around looking for another laundry mat and decline her offer. But then I thought "What would Sarah Dotie do?"

The first time I backpacked around Europe, I came up with three rules for travelling:

  1. Never leave a place with a bathroom without using it.
  2. always wash your hands
  3. never step in front of a taxi cab

The third rule sucks, because there are several times in which it is a good idea to step in front of a taxi, but these involve there being green lights in your favor and the taxi being completely stopped or the taxi being empty and looking for fare. Anyway, I am changing my third rule to "Ask your self what Sarah Dotie would do." She would say yes to a woman in a pink dress with a washing machine. At least, I think she might.

An hour later, the woman came back by and Nicole and I went back up to her flat. We started the load of laundry and she pointed out things we should see on my tourist map. Then she walked us back to where she had found us, pointing out landmarks so we could find her flat later to retrieve our clothes.

So she went back home and Nicole and I went cathedral-wards. In search of a bathroom, we stopped at a bar. I ordered mineral water while Nicole went to powder her nose. Two older gentlemen invited me to um, something about my water. I said ok. It was a day to say "ok." Try it sometime. Say "ok" to folks when they seem sincere and you get good vibes from them. Also, standing at the bar is about 721384691 times more interesting than sitting at a table.

The gentlemen then invited us to lunch. WWSDD? Older gentlemen who invite younger women to lunch sometimes have motives that are best not encouraged. (Note to self: the way to decline a food invitation is to say that you just ate, not talk about how you must run to the cathedral so you can see it before you have to leave town.)

We went to the cathedral and an art museum. And then watched the end of the match with England. Moments after the match ended, people began t have small celebrations, although on a much smaller scale than the German win. The church bells started to ring. For evening prayers, which they do every evening around the time that the early match finishes. They hadn't been ringing bells for Germany, just for vespers.

Later in the evening, we went back to the house of the woman with the washer. She had ironed my handkerchiefs. Ironed them! She asked Nicole and I to dinner. I explained that it had been my intention to ask her to dinner instead. Anyway, she took us to a restaurant on the other side of the river and then walked with us around for a couple of hours afterwards, pointing out Roman ruins. Cologne is full of Roman ruins. The parking garages have sections of ancient wall in them. Some of the streets were old Roman roads. Some still have original paving stones!

Over dinner, I mentioned being bitten by a tick. She asked me what the tick looked like. There are two similar creatures, she explained. One is a normal tick and the other burrows into your skin and has a different name in German. The second one is very dangerous. Years later, you can have fevers and be very sick.

If you're ever trying to freak me out, that's how t do it. Next time I'm online, I will be pouring over pictures of German parasites, trying to figure out if I'm going to have a mysterious and awful disease years from now. Nicole points out that this sounds a lot like lyme disease, something that I thought only existed in the United States. Whatever it is, the image of the tick wiggling it's little legs at me haunts me. When I have a still moment, I see the six tiny legs struggling, showing that whatever I had plucked from skin was not only an animal, but a living one. Now, I want to avoid dispelling the image. I must be able to determine if I had the evil borrowing tick-like creature or a regular tick.

In other news, I saw the Ukrainian football team checking into the Hilton.

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Anonymous said...

what a great story! and exactly why i like to travel. Living in big cities and listening to news, it's so easy to not be nice to people and when you travel you're reminded that the world is still full of good people.

Anonymous said...

oops, that was me, smurfett

Jean Sirius said...

there's a blood test for lyme disease. wait a couple of weeks and then ask for it. (of course, everybody knows what it is in oregon. you may want to do some internet research to find the latin words that'll get you what you want.)

there there there there there there there

Jean Sirius said...

and then, if you test positive, doxycycline (or something like that) will generally protect you.

Les said...

There is no lyme disease in Europe. However, there are 3k annual cases of tick-born viral encephalitis. Untreatable. Only 10-20% of people who get it have permanent brain damage. :(

I wonder what percentage of tick bites lead to illness, but there must be many more than 3000 people bit by ticks in a given year.