They called it Asia near & far

The farmer’s market looked like it had grown twice the size of yesterday, and then I saw the dragon. Propped up on sticks, his face smiled (growled?) at passersby on the park sidewalk.

It was the Asia: Near & Far festival, full of food and drink and dancing, which I missed. That is, except for the drink — a fruit juice blend of strawberry, pineapple and mango. The food would have been wonderful — even plenty for a vegetariánský — but I have dinner reservations as a favorite place.

And so it begins…

Actually, it began two days ago, first with a two-hour delay leaving Newark, a missed connection in Brussels and a reroute through Munich. But my suitcase didn’t take the same flights. More than 24 hours later, when the courier dropped it at my Airbnb, I could unpack, organize and start to really enjoy.

First stop this morning: The farmers’ market. It’s not the huge one by the Vlatava River, but that’s only Saturdays. Jiřák is three blocks away and open Wednesday through Saturday. And, yes, it has plenty of choices.

Markets like these require skills I needed to update — vocabulary and cultural both. I had to refresh my memory of food words, though of course some were easy. I recognized most of the vegetables: bright orange mrkev and young, green špenát and piles of brambory — all of which I bought.

I could smell the maso — the meat that was often garlicky sausage, smokey ham or various former creatures, hanging by their feet. No thanks. I passed on all of that.

Other stands had honey, bread, eggs, beer and wine. One cheese vendor offered tastes, so some of that, too, went in my bag.

Meanwhile, I fluctuated between using my probably mispronounced Czech words or just trying English or only using gestures. Generally, it was a mixture of all three, but I can always end a transaction with a fairly intelligible děkuji to be polite.

Then a pastry stand had savory tarts and quiches with the vegetariánský sign in front of them. Which to choose?! Into the bag went one with a golden top and obviously a bit of greens and something white. Just two more stops. The jahody were perfectly ripe and plump and needed to be on top. And the plants — probably for window boxes or gardens — were asking to come back to the apartment, too.

So now it’s lunchtime. The tart is fine, though I should have read the sign more carefully — or known the word for onion — because it’s a little strong, but still good, and I ate half of it. And the strawberries are as excellent as they look. The rest I’ll eat later and tomorrow, though, of course, the stands will be open then and I can go back and improve my vocabulary — and fill my refrigerator.


There’s something appropriate here. . .

When I started this blog in August 2013, I was preparing to take 10 Kent State students to Prague with another professor in the College of Communication and Information. Besides papers or multimedia projects, they all had to blog — they had scheduled times to post, we expected them to include visuals and links and to say something worth reading. ( And they did, by the way)

But I wanted to blog, too. I wanted an excuse to write. Heck, I wanted a requirement to write that would force me to fit it in my schedule. And so, on a day when I had far too many other things to do, I discovered this URL was available, figured out how to set up a simple site and started to write.

I learned a lot, too, and could share the frustrations of writer’s block, the oh-why-didn’t-I-take-a-photo-of-THAT??! remorse and all the issues the kids were having. It was a good experience.

Good enough so that I fired up the ol’ blog when I was lucky enough to be able to take in Prague for my sabbatical in Fall 2015.

Now I’m firing it up again as I head out Sunday for Prague for a month, teaching a three-week summer session at Anglo-American University. But when I read the last post, I saw I had never added the rest of the Top 10 Lessons Learned. In fact, I have only 10, 9, 8 and 7. But tonight I decided that’s appropriate for two reasons: Maybe I have more lessons to learn this time around. Plus some of those other six lessons were about people I met and worked with there. I just couldn’t make myself finish those thoughts about what I learned from them because I felt like that would end the connection. So, it’s appropriate I didn’t finish and can simply take up where I left off in 2015.

With that in mind, here are a few of the places I’m excited to revisit, but I’ll have plenty more new ones to add in the next month.