Day two in Prague

While I admit I should have written this stuff when it was fresher in my head sometimes upon reflection I have a bit more clarity about the situation so I’m not going to tell you about everyday in Prague – just the memorable ones.  Day two, like day one, was memorable.  As I mentioned earlier the sun rises earlier in Europe then in Florida – in Prague it was even earlier than in England.  At 4:30 the sun rose and by 5:00 am the room with only minimal blinds was totally bright.  I sleep with eye shades as I hate the light but I had been to Morocco the week before and was still suffering from a bug I had picked up there so when it was light in the room for one hour and my stomach was already killing me; I got up.  I am not by any means a morning person.  I hate mornings as much as Garfield, but when it’s bright and you can’t sleep you just get up.  Jacqui actually was a morning person.  Or maybe it’s just that she had spent the last few months babysitting for her young nieces and kids get up early.  They had pre-conditioned her.

By 7:00 am we were both up and dressed and starting to get hungry.  Since we had been instructed by Neville that he was monitoring our electric and water usage and anything he deemed too much for 3 people would be charged to us or taken from our security deposit, and because I had showered less than 24 hours earlier and really thought if I could only shower once a day as per his suggestion then I’d rather go to bed clean.  Also I hadn’t yet encountered the Shath so I didn’t realize you wouldn’t want to shower more than once a day.

Neville had told us the walk to the school would take about 40 minutes (though what I had learned the day before is that he is a very fast walker) so I figured it would take more like 1 hour at my slow pace.  We could have taken the tram but we hadn’t yet bought our monthly tickets and it was a very nice day out, sunny and about 72 degrees.  So the two of us decided to walk.  Louis decided to sleep in.  His room was on the other side of the flat which mean the sun set on his side but it didn’t rise there and illuminate the whole room as it did ours.

My home away from home – Starbucks Dejvicka

We set out with our computers (as we were told to bring them to get our internet installed after class) and we head out into the Dejvicka section of town to find a place for breakfast and hopefully check our email.  It was a nice walk and all down hill but it did take 50 minutes.  We arrived at Starbucks, used the facilities, got tea and a muffin, checked email and then went over to the school to meet the rest of the group.  Our class consisted of 9 people.  It was a mix of younger people and older people close to my own age.  It was also mix of nationalities which made the English different all around the table.

There was Iryania who was from the Ukraine, a very bright, pretty, sheltered and young girl whose family was now living in Prague (at least her dad and brother were).  Then there was Michael from Ashville, NC who was a nice guy deep down but rather full of himself and under the impression he was smarter than ANY other person on earth.  He was in his early 20’s.  Then came Paul who resided in California but was originally from England and while he spoke with a British Accent he hadn’t been there in years.  He was in his late 50’s or possibly early 60’s getting ready to retire and looking for a new retirement career in teaching.  Louis, the flatmate, is from Las Vegas via Detroit and was the most laid back person I’ve ever met in my life. Seriously there was no way to get him riled up at all and he was given plenty of reasons over the month.  He instantly took a liking to Iryania even though she was way too young for him.  Louis looked very young but he was 35 and had been a dealer in Vegas.  Then there was Brian who was also very young, in his 20’s and I think just out of College.  He was from Eugene Oregon and used to work at Starbucks.  There was Jacqui, my roommate, from Belfast, Northern Ireland about my age and looking for a mid life career change and the ability to have  job where she could live someplace other than the frigid Northern Europe.  There was also Chris from Australia who was around my age.  Chris had a Czech girlfriend whom he lived with in Prague, she came complete with her mother and a kid just to keep him on his toes.  And then there was Ashley.

At Belvedere – from left to right – Louis, Brian, Ashley, Jacqui

Ashley was great fun; like me she had a teaching degree though hers was newly established.  She is from Texas and was up for anything at any time.  We were the two that traveled about when we had time and saw all we could see.  We also never really bothered to do much in the way of studying as most of this stuff was already second nature.  And then there was our instructor Mila.  Mila was like the anti-Neville.  He was always totally professional, well dressed, sincere and nice and since I’m not going to mince words he is HOT. And yes way to young for me so I wasn’t interested in him that way but let’s face it; I’m not blind and he was good to look out and when you’re stuck in a classroom for 6 hours a day it’s nice to have something that is good to look out – even if he is droning on about English Grammar.  That was our dysfunctional group and for a group of people that were thrown together by chance we all really seemed to get along pretty well.

Iryania

Since this was our first day of class we went over the weekly schedule and then dove into our weekly Monday morning Survival Czech lesson.  This was useful when you were out and about Prague trying to shop, eat out or talk to people and get directions etc.  Also very useful when we went to work with clients who might have been English speakers but had secretaries and receptionists that weren’t.  Of course when you walk in and announce in Czech that you are the English teacher here to see so and so you can be sure that the non-English speaking person you are speaking to will now rattle off some kind of conversation for 5 minutes in Czech because they don’t speak English but now believe that you do indeed speak Czech.

Michael and Ashley

For some reason, unknown to me there was no lunch time built into the first week’s schedule.  We did have a few breaks where we could run down to the market and get soda, water or coffee or whatever.   We learned till about 3:00 pm and then planed till about 4:00 pm and then taught M-W to students that volunteered to come to our school and be tortured for free English lessons by total amateurs.  This week, however, we would start our teaching on Tuesday so we were out early on Monday.  We did our student teaching in groups of 3 working with different levels of students depending on if you taught on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.  My group was going to be first and since I already having teaching experience I volunteered to be the very first.

Chris and the bellydancer

When class was over Neville said he would now take Jacqui, Louis and I over to Vodaphone to get our internet sticks for our computer.  As I had the previous day, I explained that my ipad was not G3 enabled and only worked on wifi, it fell on deaf ears yesterday and apparently again today.  Though to be fair he did answer me today but only by telling me that I didn’t know what I was talking about and Vodaphone would indeed sort it out.  So we followed him at warp speed to Vodaphone.  He handed us each a box with the G3 sticks he had purchased and found a rep that spoke English.  Then he quickly said he had to get his kid from school and turned on his sandals (still wearing the oh to short cut off shorts of yesterday) and left us there. The rep first helped Jacqui and spent about 40 minutes setting up her computer as her operating system didn’t really work well with the product.  With Louis he hadn’t brought his computer so they gave him instructions on how to set it up and recommended if he had trouble to bring it back to them tomorrow.  With me the rep said “You have only wifi”  I said yes.  He put the mini sim card in a small device that made it a regular sized sim card and put it in my telephone and said – you don’t have internet but you can use this as your phone number.  OMG, this is exactly what I had told Neville and now I would be unwired for the whole month.

For most people that would suck but for me I make my income as a Webmaster these days so believe me when I say it way more than sucked.  If you can’t be on the web then how are you supposed to perform that job?  It meant a whole month of Starbucks in the morning and KFC at night and finding wireless wherever I could on the street.  It meant preparing lesson plans for this course from home was not going to happen.  It meant emailing and Skypeing my family and friends was also out.  I wanted to kill Neville – nowhere on his website did it say my interent would be in this form.  As a matter of fact it said my flat had High Speed WIFI.  Neville said I should be happy because now I have a local phone.  Sigh.

When we got home later that night Jacqui fired up her email as did Louis and both of them pulled up Neville’s email about the house rules.  He said we must read it and reply with our affirmation of the conditions and affirmation of the house inventory ASAP.  Jacqui asked if I wanted to use her computer to send him back my confirmation.  No, I told her, instead she should tell Neville that I will reply when I have email.  And with that I decided to take a nice shower.  Little did I know I wouldn’t be taking a shower again until I returned to England.

In the bathroom I assessed the situation.  We had  tub; it was long and tall but very skinny.  It had a knob for cold and a knob for hot and a single faucet in the form of a shower head that was hung up like an old fashioned telephone right about the temperature knobs.  It did not hang up on the wall above your head like a shower should.  So if you wanted a shower you had to hold the faucet above your head.  You could do this sitting or standing but you had to have a free hand to hold the instrument so that meant washing with only the one hand.  There was a hot water tank right above the faucet that held about 1 gallon of water.  Trust me when I tell you know matter how you shower or bathe you use more than 1 gallon of hot water.  Over my time there I perfected the new method of cleaning which I have coined “getting a shath”, which is derived from SH-ower and b-ATH.

A closer look at the SHATH

It meant you fill the tub about 12 inches with luke warm water (because that’s what happens when you finish the 1 gallon of hot water).  Then you turn off the water so the heater can now heat up some new water.  While this is happening you soap up while sitting down in the tub and foot of warm water.  Then you turn the water back on and rinse.  Then you turn it off again to heat up.  Then you lather up your hair.  Turn the water on to rinse that.  Turn the water off to heat.  Apply conditioner.  Turn water on to rinse, turn water off to heat.  Soap up and shave.  Turn water back on to rinse.  Stand up and rinse everything again to be sure.  Turn water off.  Drain tub.  Turn water on and wash down tub.  Get out and towel dry.  It’s affective but terribly time consuming and a total pain in the ass.

Oh, and did I mention that before I came to Prague I had emailed Neville to ask about linens and towels.  He assured me that both were there and I didn’t need to bring them with me.  He did provide us each with one sheet, one pillow and case, and one duvet for the bed.  He also provided 1 bath towel and 1 hand towel.  No I don’t mean he gave us EACH one towel for the bath and hand I mean he gave us ONE towel for all three of us.  What a guy!

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