The First Family of Summer

By January 23, 2009 Travel Journal

Today I stumbled on a make-shift journal written in a cheap, dime-store, Czech/English pocket calendar dating back to my study abroad in Prague during the summer of 1998.  I was actually surprised as not only do I vaguely remember writing it, but many of the tales written have fled any reachable nook of my memory.  It’s kinda like my own cerebral archeological artifact.  And the shaky cipher almost needed cracked like the Rosetta Stone.

It was written mostly on trains and buses criss-crossing the beautiful Bohemian countryside.  One line even made reference to a dark mountain tunnel of several minutes in length, no doubt interrupting my documentation.  This is a not-so-subtle slap in the face as to why we write journals in the first place.

The entries in this particular archive encompass several trips I made with adventure buddy Pepe to his home in the northern Czech Republic a stone’s throw from the Polish border.  Of the endlessly fascinating accounts, one entry describes the contents of my backpack and offers no hint of any discomfort of only having 2 extra shirts for the long trip. Other entries suggest that I immediately understood and appreciated the true value of the experiences I was given. It’s an insightful account of why this primitive pocket-document accompanied me only on these trips.  It certainly was one of the more fond times in my life.  The tales are plentiful – surveying Liberec night after night, meeting friends in hospodas and crashing on whatever spare floor-space was available.  Venturing through the Bohemian wilderness with its haunting castles and unspoiled natural terrain by day and sleeping in a tent by night. Adopting tiny train station pubs as our afternoon living rooms with loose plans to board one of the day’s infrequent trains to destinations not yet determined. Never did I truly know where I was nor did I care to be told.

This is one of my more personal favorite photos.  It’s my first family that summer.  Brother Pepe, mom, dad and the family farm.  Nearly everything in the gardens is edible and nearly everything eaten at the dinner table came from those gardens and surrounding forests.  Always remember: guests are always severed the stew with the rabbit’s heart.

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