|Rothenberg, Germany, 2009|
While conversing with Martin, Marcus and Toni, I thought about how quickly time passes and how momentous events shape lives for years afterwards. Each young man is from a small village in the former GDR or East Germany. They were born shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of Communist Russia, and the reunification of Germany. They have heard their parents tell stories of life in the GDR.
Toni's parents own a butcher shop. It's been in the family for 100 years. Toni is studying electrical engineering. He told me, "I want to try something different. I can always go back to the shop, but I want to try." Because of the events of 1989 - 1990, he has an opportunity that would have previously been denied to him. He and his friends can travel freely.
The young men asked us for suggestions on what to see here on Vancouver Island. Recorded history is young although the First Nations people have been here a long time. Our son-in-law was with us for dinner and gave our visitors a lot of good ideas. We suggested East Sooke Park, our favourite place to hike.
One of their first questions to us: "Why do Canadians like fluffy bread?" They were quite horrified at the kind of bread available in the supermarket. This morning for breakfast, they devoured an entire loaf of homemade whole wheat bread. "It's not German," they said, "but it's pretty good."
After coming home last night they shared that they had purchased Twinkies at a Seven-Eleven and thought them absolutely horrible. I've never eaten a Twinkie but just looking at them and reading the list of ingredients is enough.
They wanted to swim in the Pacific Ocean. We warned them that it would be cold. They couldn't believe how cold it really was. One said his skin burned for hours afterwards. They also wish to swim in a glacier-fed river in the Rockies. They are in for another shock.
Polite and well-mannered, curious about Canadian life, they spoke English well, but when it was just the three of them, they spoke German. Hearing their softly spoken give and take, I was taken far back in memory to visits with my great grandparents who never learned English. The cadence of the German tongue is one that many do not consider beautiful, yet my memories of it are filled with love that transcended words I could not understand.
Hospitality: The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
I'm glad we said yes to these German visitors.