Greetings from high above the North Atlantic! Time back home is midnight, Prague time is 6am. We are due to arrive in around three hours. It has been a long day for us, starting at 6:30am Eastern (17+ hours ago). We woke this morning, gave the apartment a good cleaning, finished packing, made an emergency trip to the Apple store (Mel’s iPad wasn’t working right), where a technically gifted and graceful young man with capri pants and what appeared to be my Grandmother’s house slippers graciously attended to our concerns.
The kid had the patience of Job. Melissa and I are not the most balanced couple I know – we are both totally inept regarding all things electronic. The slightest technical malfunction (By this, I mean anything that cannot be corrected by mashing the power, volume or channel buttons) inevitably leads to pouting by her and righteously indignant vows by me to “drop off the grid”. This seems to happen more often than I would care to admit. With the purchase of this new iPad though, as you might imagine, there has been a dramatic spike in pouting and righteously indignant vows. But I digress. The guy with Grandma’s slippers got us up and running in short order and we were off to the airport.
We flew out of RDU and changed planes at New York’s JFK airport where we enjoyed a lengthy four hour layover. We people watched, we played Scrabble on the iPad and generally enjoyed ourselves while killing time. I also managed to finish off the book I’ve been reading in anticipation of the trip – a history of the Czechs by Hugh Agnew. I skimmed most of the first 900 years or so, but things really got interesting just prior to World War I. Its been an interesting and often difficult century for the Czechs, to say the least. During that dark period from 1938 through 1992, when the Czechs (and Slovacs as well – thus “Czechoslovakia”) endured the twin demonic siblings of Hitler and Stalin, followed by the resulting decades of Communist rule, things were particularly bad. There was also the disappointing but all-too predictable betrayals by supposed Western European allies in the name of “appeasement”. Finally, with the “Velvet Divorce” on New Year’s 1994, the Czechs and Slovacs went their separate ways and the Czech Republic was born. After forty years behind the Iron Curtain, Czech reclaimed it’s European heritage and identified itself with 900 years of common history, going back to ancient Bohemia.
And so here we are, 26,000 feet in the air, going to visit our good friend Martin, the city of Prague and all that Central Europe has to offer. It’s 6:40am now, Prague time, and the sun is starting to rise, casting a brilliant orange and blue glow to the east, just outside of my window. Melissa is asleep on my shoulder and I had better get some sleep too. Martin has signed us up for a relay race tomorrow (of course!) and we have a great ten days planned.