August 18, 2008

An Evening with Stania
Chmeľová, Slovakia

As I whiled away the afternoon sorting though embassy is an excellent resource, by the way—Tatiana was off in Bardejov exploring art and eating tasty home cooked food until her stomach ached. The source of her entertainment was her new friend Stania, a Slovakian woman in her late-thirties who we'd met a week or so prior. Broken out of her typical anti-social shell, I was happy to see her organize a meet-up (and to get a few hours of silence for myself in the process).

She and Aidric came home so happy from their trip, I asked her to write about it. These are her words and photos:

My Evening with Stania

One of those days that we went to Bardejov from Dhlá Lúka, sitting on a bench under a tree, I met Stania. That day we chatted for a while, and with a friend of hers, a former student. Stania turned out to be an English teacher, just like me.

She proudly told me a bit about her town, and invited us to go all the way up to the top of the bell tower of the basilica, and then to the basilica itself. After a few days and e-mails, we agreed on meeting up today at Bardejov's bus station. There is a bus that passes by Chmel'ová at 1:05pm and takes about 20 minutes.

There she was, waiting for me. We walked towards her home, which is very near the Town Square, and on the way we stopped at the Šarišské Múzeum / Expozícia Ikony (The Icon Exposition). A friend of hers let us in, gave me a brochure in English and permission to take pictures (something they normally charge about US$5 for).

The brochure says:

It is the only separate specialized exposition of Eastern Rite icons in Slovakia. It includes displayed icons -paintings on wood- from the 16th to 19th centuries, on which the visitor can follow the development of Carpathian icons. Among other exhibits, there are icons on canvas with the topic of The Last Judgment, embroidered religious vestments and church furniture.

The Icons from the collection of the Šariš Museum in Bardejov were presented in many countries. The most distinguished were The World Exhibition in Osaka (Japan) in 1970, exhibition The Icons in Brussels (Belgium) in 1973 and exhibitions in Hungary, Germany and Poland. In 2003 were the icons from museum's collection presented at the international exhibition The Eastern Christianity in Brno (Czech Republic)."

Very interesting. My favorite part was a display of scale models of churches in Slovakia, made in wood (both the scale models and the actual churches).

Stania had found out about the return bus schedule and asked me not to take the 4:30 bus, but the 7:30. I wasn't quite prepared to stay that long, concerning Aidric. I hadn't brought enough food or diapers because I thought I'd go back home three hours later.

The contents of Aidric's bag always depend on how long we are going to be out. But in the end this was not a problem, and I think I would have missed the 4:30 bus anyway. I asked the time, as to know if I should feed my son, and it was already 4:20.


Time just flew, between the pleasant and interesting conversation we were having and the delicious food items that she and her mom had made for me: yummy sandwiches, turkey with Slovakian potatoes, and a spectacular cake that her mom baked, among others. We had a couple of mojitos while we spoke pretty much about everything: religion, communism, children, travels, family, movies.

She is very interested in Latin-American culture. She surprised me very much when she showed me a book by Isabel Allende: "La Casa de los Espíritus" ("The House of Spirits"), translated to Slovak. I explain to her that the author is Chilean, former president Salvador Allende's niece, a communist. I can see she doesn't like that word, she already experienced it in her own country.

Tatiana with Stania

Stania is a very intelligent and educated woman, and I like listening to her opinion about things. She is very nice and friendly, and an excellent hostess, just like her mom. They made me feel at home. I spent a very special evening, and I went back to my Craig very happy, Aidric and I with smiles on our faces and with all sorts of delicious treats that they had sent him (as well as gifts of diapers and socks for Aidric).

I have a new friend, I'm so glad.

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