The second week after my arrival I caught a flu. It wasn’t the best way to start my experience here but looking the snow falling through the windows was quite hypnotic. The blue of the sea had turned out into the white of the snow. Since I came, all Czechs I met have been telling me that I should wait to the spring to enjoy the city. But what they didn’t know is that I was already delighted. One of these winter days, when I started to feel recovered I just took my camera, left the room and went to the park close to my dormitory. It was already 5 o clock, which means it was already night. I walked for some time through the heavy snow and got really inside the park. The feeling was kind of strange. Although I knew the city was just at the end of my view and some hundreds metres further there would be many people arriving at home to get warm from the cold, I felt I was in the nature. In some random forest in Central Europe may be, feeling the real winter for the first time in my life.
And it was at that precisely moment when I realized I was abroad. I was a strange. But I liked it. And for some time I was really alone in that huge snowy park outside my dormitory, freezing but enjoying the touching of the snowflakes in my face.
Then, some time later, a young woman appeared with a big lovely dog. His dark brown skin fitted really well with the white of the snow. The German shepherd was playing somehow while the woman was sitting in a bank, just looking at him. It was a beautiful picture, a common one I guess but the sensations of the moment made it more charming.
I was tempted to talk to her. Tempted to ask her what she was doing, what she was feeling. Now it may sound pretty stupid as it was obvious what she was doing but back then it all made sense. Anyway, in the end I could not even take a picture of her beautiful dog. I guess I spent too much time wondering how she was, how many differences can be between me and her, between Canary and Czech people.
So she left me alone again in the white landscape but not much later a family appeared. The father was carrying his two children in a red sledge. They must have been playing together a little further from the place where we were now. The children were shouting something I couldn’t get but from their faces I can say that they still wanted some more fun. Anyway, the father ignored them and kept carrying the sledge while the mother was smiling complacently next to the children.
They reminded me the childhood I never had. The one I saw in some American movies with snowmans, warmed country houses and homemade wool pullovers. Thinking about Czechs, observing their similar and their completely different experiences, makes me aware of my own happening. It is amazing to think about how something apparently insignificant can change the way we are and how we communicate with each other. While the Czechs are wondering how would be to live near the beach, with the sun shining every week, Canarian children are wondering why they can’t have the same Christmas they watch on the TV.
So one day I think they are really different from me but the next day I change my mind and think they are pretty the same. Many times when I observe them I wish I could understand more Czech, not only to know what others are saying but to get more involved in the events that are currently happening and to feel more close to them. However, other times I don´t feel that huge necessity because I accept the things as they are and enjoy the feeling of being outside the wall, thinking what’s going on behind that faces and wondering how they really are.
Now is already spring and the view of Bory park is completely different. In sunny days, many people go there to practice sports or just to seat on the grass to enjoy the weather with their friends. It is known that you have to make the most of the sun because the rain is always watching and can come when you least expect it.
Plzeň has many beautiful parks like Bory. Everyone with its own lives, its own seasons, its own memories… And, although I enjoyed winter in some way, it is true that the city becomes more beautiful with the good weather. The elegant houses of the city center looks more colorful, the streets around the main square seems more attractive and the green of the trees predominates in every place.
The city gets definitely more lively, which, by the way, is one of the goals of my organization, Plzeň 2015, where I am working as a European Volunteer. Until now, the city is only famous around the world for the great beer Pilsner Urquell but in two years it will be the European Capital of Culture. The city wants to show to the world that they are more than beer (without forgetting its importance) and, at the same time, wants to show to its inhabitants that it is more than a place to sleep and work. Life is not only inside a house, a pub or a “čajovna”, but in every corner of the city, where everything can take place and you can be part of it. And that’s why the main slogan is Pilsen Open Up!.
But this is not only about Plzeň. Every city, every little town here or there has something to show you. It doesn´t mind if it is called Prague or Třinec. Every detail, every scene, could be amazing if you let yourself enjoy it and forget stereotypes. It is up to you. And I think this is one of the things what European Voluntary Service is all about. And the reason why I want to start this blog. As an Irish sentence says, “What is seldom, is wonderful” (“An rud is annamh is iontach”). And there is something seldom in every EVS experience. Something that needs to be discovered and deserve to be told.