Every day in Prague I go home by hiking uphill. It is steep, unevenly paved, and its surface is pitted with bumps and potholes. It is only broken up by a couple set of steps. It winds around, and when nightfall materializes, it can become deathly quiet and dark.
I wonder how long the brick wall lining this hill has been here, how many years of graffiti and weather and eroded mortar lie behind its existence.
I am a stranger in a strange land.
A land where the beer is cheaper than coffee or Coca-Cola.
A land where you must pay for your plastic shopping bags.
A land where you can buy hot wine. Yes. Hot wine. Really.
It is when I don’t see Hass avocadoes in abundance at the local Billa market that I remember that I am a long way from Los Angeles.
Here we are.
And what is it, exactly, that we’ve gotten ourselves into?
We’d planned it.
Decided to do it.
But it’s all talk until you’re doing it. What does the future bring?
I drink freakishly large amounts of water. And, because of this, as a traveler, I must immediately know where all the restrooms are. I do not let on that I am thinking about this.
I’m a planner. I like to organize, check things off a list, and then have a back-up plan just in case. And back-up plan B.
Throws you a curve ball. Some things in life you just can’t plan.
It is when the cloudy skies linger in a heavy envelope and the frigid air slaps me across my cheeks that I remember that I’ve ] left Los Angeles.
It is during my ritual of unlocking and locking all the doors from the inside and corresponding outside as I exit my rented villa with my roommates that I realize that we have left our families.
It is during the first few footsteps down aforementioned steep hill on a wet, uneven walkway half paved and half lined with steps that I remember that I’ve left the country. We walk down some more and it is when we come to a crosswalk where the button must be pushed and the light will read ‘CEKEJTE’ on the post that I remember this is a European city that I do not know, with a language foreign to anything I have every studied, in a country I have never been to.
It is myself that I know. It is the warmth of a new friendship that I have come to know. It is my gut instincts and my word choices that are still familiar, but unfamiliar to those around me.
Every moment is truly an adventure.
Why is it that when I travel and experience different cultures that life is the most surprising? Unexpected. Every minute and banal aspect of life becomes an opportunity for discovery and proud achievement. A sliver of light, a glimpse of another world, another rung on your ladder of worldly endeavors and sophisticated understandings that never quite appear to be that way while you’re experiencing them.
It’s all exhausting of course. I am tired, I have a migraine, and my legs are sore from the many hikes uphill back to the villa.
These are not the leisurely hikes up dry dirt trails from the Griffith Observatory. These are not done in the morning into the early hours of the afternoon due to the inevitable sunny skies streaming light and heat into the arid blanket of air. These are hikes through snow and slush, or fresh powder atop a sheet of pure ice, or a mixture of slush and black ice.
Watch out for the puddles.
I may be tired, but I am tired in Prague.