Saturday, January 11

On the bus this morning at 9:00. Today’s a long-drive day – our only one. It will take between six and seven hours to get from Roggenburg to Geras.

Frs. Gilbert and Stefan walked out to the bus with us to say goodbye to the students; Fr. Gilbert looked smashing in his new Packers cap (Steve brought a couple of caps along to give away – and one look at Gilbert and he just knew that the Packer cap had found a home).

East of Munich we begin to see the Austrian Alps. I feel about mountains like many feel about water: if I could, I would choose to always live near them. Wild, beautiful, ancient, and constantly changing in the light and shadows. Ultimately unknowable, their profiles are as personal and evocative as those of the people we live with. When I lived in Madrid – back before pollution changed the view – I could look down my street, Fernández de los Ríos up near the Complutense, and see the mountains in the distance. I would think, There. Madrid ends there, and then the wild takes over. I was in love with Madrid, but it was deeply comforting to me that I could see out of the city to the Sierra Nevada, where the forests were thick and dark and the roads that crossed through the high passes would close to traffic in the winter.

A quiet morning on the bus. Most were listening to their iPods or reading; a few were napping. The afternoon was a little more lively (some of us were a little restless and wanted to go dancing). My highlights: villages tucked along rivers at the bottom of the mountain valleys; random, life-sized statues of cows painted in bright colors and standing on top of a hill near the highway; cars speeding on the autobahn (the bus stays in the right-hand lane and the cars fly by); seeing Ball-Sheep dance in the back of the bus; and having supper with the Geras Norbertines (wonderful goulash soup!). It’s been a very long day, and we’re staying at an unusual hotel (right, guys?). I taught Stacey the expressions – “el quinto coño” and “donde el viento se da la vuelta.”

No more for tonight… tomorrow we go to Schlagel and then on to Prague.

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