Podebrady is a small town in Central Bohemia, Czech Republic. The natural spring waters supposedly possess healing powers. Stone fountains have been erected throughout the town and they sprout a sulphuric tinted gritty liquid. Flowers abound and ice cream seems prevalent. It is quaint and nice and where we were bound to learn the basics of the Czech language.

Wendy and I first met in JFK airport for a flight to Amsterdam. She was wearing a blue Polo shirt and asked if I was going to Prague. I was wearing my backpack, dragging my Samsonite and an Israeli rock bag slung over my shoulder. I said I was, and you cannot believe how relieved I was to find a stranger on the same path. She introduced me to the rest of the accounted students and they embraced me fast.

We flew above the clouds for hours and I slept. We caught our connection then arrived in Praha. We were so slap happy silly trying to retrieve our bags from the ever fast baggage dispenser. Then we hopped on a bus to our two week home. We were going to a spa town to learn the language. We pulled up to a seventies style dormitory and chose our roommates. I had Brad, who reminded me of Big Bird and you had Calgary, so snooty was she.

We received food coupons for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Snidane was a smorgasbord of meat, cheese, yogurt and pirek. We also had an apple flavored hot drink that was watered down and flat. It stunk rotten. I still find comfort in it. 'Yikes', you may scream, but wait, it gets better and worse.

The good point remained that we were eating and learning in a 16th century castle and the spirits of the old building soaked into us. The food was another thing. When we were asked to separate our scraps into different buckets, we collectively attributed it to cultural differences. Then, when we found the exact scraps of food in the next day soup, we gagged heartily.

The walls sweat in the Castleteria. The steam of the apple drink permeated the ancient stone. It was so heavy, walking became a chore. The smells of that castle and the feeling I felt wandering the city are material for a lifetime.

Our discovery to order Knedliky and Goulash instead of the usual fare was inspired from Jamie receiving the Deep fried spam pattie with mushrooms in the middle. I think I suggested that 1.00 U.S. dollar wasn't much to spend on a pizza. We ate out after that. Our home country also bombed the shit out of Yugoslavia that week. Peacekeeping in the post cold war world. Go figure our chances of growing up in the USA and becoming soul peas in a pod in the Czech Republic.

A few days after our arrival, I was standing in a doorway. I was talking to a girl about homesickness. You came up behind and bear hugged me. You pressed your then enormous breasts into my shoulder blades and told me it would be all right. It was.

The next day we were touring a hunting castle and I noticed you weren't on the bus. I ran to your room and woke you up. Dave, Jamie and I drank Vodka for the duration of the ride. We saw blue tree frogs in the leaves that day. The castle had endless hallways with racks of antlers on the wall and a bust of Napoleon. Do you remember?

If you don't remember that, I know you remember drinking the spa water out of the fountain. How sulfur heals, I don't know. Or, you must remember getting three sets of ice cream that day. I think we became friends then. That bond allowed us to dance a polka in the hallway of the castle.

A few days before our departure, Colin, Sarah and we walked along the Elbe to The little ruin town. Carp were breaching and the geese were honking. Bikes whizzed by and we held hands. A bend in the road brought us to an endless field of daisies. I told you about the girl and you squeezed my hand.

After we arrived at the mosaic memorial, we walked the short street to get a drink. There was a small church there and the roads were beige dirt. We walked past into a café and ordered cokes. Colin, the entrepreneur, suggested that they get screens to keep the flies out. What a novel idea.

In those days, our hips rubbed often and the joy of freedom overwhelmed us. We lived in a transition of democracy and we discovered that the other loved rocks. Our souls were so close.

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