11 October 2013

Czech village life

expatova's apples
When we lived in England, we owned a little house in the middle of a neighbourhood we mostly-affectionately called The Hood. This title was somewhat ironic considering we lived in a small town in a rather idyllic part of the country, but nonetheless, The Hood was well known to the local police and we became experts on many of our neighbours' love lives, partying habits, approaches to child rearing, and dubious methods of rubbish disposal.

Due to living there, we always said that with our next house, we would painstakingly scout out the house AND neighbourhood before purchasing.

This is not, my friends, what happened. In fact, we committed to purchase the house after seeing a few awkward photos online and 'driving by' it on Google Streetview.

So, now that we've moved in, I've finally had the pleasure of properly scouting out our new environs. Or perhaps more accurately, our new environs have been scouting out us, with nearly all of the neighbours on our street introducing themselves.

I've already discussed the stereotype of Czechs and the stereotype of village Czechs seems to be even more xenophobic and lacking in friendliness. However, that has not at all been the case. Maybe half of the people we see in the village greet us with 'dobrý den!' and a few have even chatted with me about the weather and welcomed us to the village. We have a few neighbours who speak very good English and a few who bravely suffer through conversations with me in Czech.

Village life, as experienced earlier this week: the sun was shining and Smalls and I were out in the garden collecting apples. We chatted with one of my favourite neighbours who is a teacher at the local školka and her friend, who both made a big fuss over Smalls. Next, a parade of school children came by with their teachers and handfuls of leaves and sticks. They politely ''dobrý den!'-ed me, waved at Smalls, and made a fuss over our cat.

After Smalls's nap, the door bell rang, and there was one of the neighbour's daughters who formally introduced herself and asked if she could play with Smalls. She's nine and very patiently listened to Smalls's babbling about tractors and dogs that go HUFF! Meanwhile, I had a luxurious cup of tea and collected all of the fallen apples and walnuts. It was heavenly.

While I was picking up the last of the walnuts and laughing to myself about this strange new pastoral life, some jaunty, accordion-led music came on over the public service announcement system, as if to provide the perfect soundtrack for what I was experiencing. This was followed by what seemed to be a rousing announcement by our mayor and was concluded by more jaunty music.

So, the moral of the story seems to be: buy a house over the internet and you may end up in some strange Czech Mayberry, Shangri La, or possibly Stepford. 

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