Apologies again for no photos. The internet has been erratic and unfriendly to me, and is collapsing under the strain of uploads and such. This is also why I am not able to comment properly, or respond to comments. Please stay tuned, though! There was a visit to the beach, and to the National Museum as well. For now, though, I must resort to a crowd favorite: The Top Something List! ("Something" because I have no clue how long it is going to be, and I don't like boundaries and rules anyway.)
1. This evening, I was startled by what seemed to be an endless barrage of gunfire. My mother in law kept reading her newspaper calmly in the dimming light, seemingly oblivious to the noise outside. She even opened a lovely french door to let some fresh air into the apartment. I didn't want to alarm the children, so I steadied my voice and said, "Hmmm! Whatever could that noise BE?"
MIL: (Puts down paper, semi-annoyed: What?? OH. THAT. It's fireworks. Don't worry.
AM (Alarmed Maggie): Really? In the middle of the day? Is there a wedding?
MIL: No. People celebrating, because the results of the national exam came out.
AM: So, it's not gunfire....?
MIL: Well, it might be. But it's mostly fireworks.
(Sister in Law walks in) SIL: What, you can't tell the difference?
Actually - no. I can't. It all sounds very loud and scary. I know I am just a milk-fed Westerner unused to war, chaos, coups, revolutions, and street protests, but the idea of people shooting into the air AT ALL is frightening. There have been stories of brides in villages getting killed by wayward shrapnel, and people sitting on their balconies drinking coffee have been struck dead as well. Because, well, what goes up must come down. Believe it or not, it's probably easier to get killed in a traffic accident here. (Unless real war breaks out.)
As an interesting adjunct to all this: when something goes awry, for example, and the plumber/painter/biscuit maker doesn't show up, the excuses are a lot different here. Cars don't break down, dogs don't eat homework. It's more like, "Well, you know that revolution underway in Syria? The plumber is really the head of an underground political party and went back. Who the hell is going to finish remodeling the bathroom?"
2. According to my husband, Germans have been pegged as The World's Least Funny People in some new survey. Now, although I cannot name one German comedian offhand, and any German movie I have ever seen has given new meaning to the words "intense", "serious", and "despondency", I find this hard to believe. How could a people that embrace the singing talents of Michael Knight be unfunny? And LEAST funny? How about, for instance, the Kazakhs? (Nothing against these fine Turkic people.) Are the Germans less funny than them?
3. I consider myself fairly intelligent and cultured, but the metric system is driving me nuts. When someone says, "Oh, it's about 20 centimeteres tall", I can't picture the dimensions. The same with temperature. I know 40 C is HOT, but my mind won't let me believe it. (This frustration is in no way indicative of my views concerning metric vs. avoirdupois. And if you think I am being uppity with my vocabulary, I'm not. I have been doing a lot of crossword puzzles.)