Letters from Slovakia – September Part 2

Continuing to share my story of teaching English in Slovakia when I was twenty-one, which inspired my latest book, Traffik, what follows is another excerpt from a letter I wrote to my parents at the very beginning of my trip.

After flying to Vienna and staying the night in a hotel, struggling with jet lag and homesickness, I returned to the airport the following day to meet with the other Americans who would be teaching in Slovakia. At the end of the one-week orientation, we went on an outing to the Czech Republic where we toured a castle, a palace, a church and its catacombs, and finally a wine cellar…

“The wine cellar wasn’t as romantic as it sounds. It looked more like a community center with a beer hall inside. But we ate a good dinner and tasted four wines each. We sat at long wooden tables on one end of the room, and then there was a dance floor, with a stage for a band, and then more tables on the other side where the locals sat. At one point, the locals, who were mostly older, started singing sad but pleasant folk songs. After dinner, a band showed up and started to play! Everyone danced – young and old – to both techno music and to waltzes and polkas. A lot of people in our group danced. Although our polkas weren’t as good as theirs, we might have made up for it in effort. Nothing is more rambunctious than an upbeat polka.”

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