Vivien planned Friday 4 hours early. “We leave at ten.” So, naturally, we left at noon. Finally on the road again, we had to stop for gas. At a small gas station in a little town, I think we may have experienced our first real dose of xenophobia. The gentleman running the shop was very unhappy with our speaking English.
“This is a small shop! This is not an English speaking country,” he semi-shouted at us. I didn’t order anything, but those who did tried to just get in and out to avoid making him any angrier.
I’ve heard people in America echo a similar sentiment about people. “You’re in America, speak English.” Is it those same people who then have the audacity to assume they can travel around the world without speaking the language of where they’re going? Or are these the people who stay in the country, avoiding anything different from them? I couldn’t help but wonder if this man has travelled.
“If we were back home, that guy would totally be a Trump supporter,” Gaby said as we got into the van.
It was a 3 hour drive to the Ferry. We mostly napped. Vivien made his first English pun! I can’t recall the context 100%, and with the language barrier it would probably be hard to explain. But the pun itself revolved around the word “Trumpoline.” We immediately commenced in a celebratory golf clap, something which has been happening when the occasion calls for it.
Over the next few hours I learned a few new things. One, it takes a really long time to get through customs onto the Ferry. They kept asking us if we were a band. It seemed that had we been, we may have had a harder time getting through the border. We assured them we had no instruments, they are a sports team, I am a writer, and that seemed to be acceptable.
Two, you need to get your ticket for the ferry before you go through customs or you have to go through the whole thing again. The second time is moderately faster, but the customs agents who just saw you forty minutes ago laugh at you. Third, I likely would not survive a cruise. The ferry is huge, and the motion of the ocean is not my friend. I had taken the motion sickness medication I typically take before a flight and I still could have vomited were it more convenient to have done so.
Driving off the ferry was tricky. Have you ever tried to drive on the left side of the road? It basically goes against every instinct in your body. The first time a car drove by us I thought we were for sure about to be killed. But Justin made it happen. We survived the drive to Birmingham, periodically yelling “left check” in unison to make sure we were turning correctly and golf clapping when appropriate.
Three hours later, we arrived* at The Garrison.
We were all pretty exhausted, I passed out not long after we settled in.
On Christmas Eve morning, it was time to exchange currency and finally do some laundry. The currency rate here is rough, this is absolutely the most expensive area of the tour. So we took the blow and exchanged some cash so we could have some clean clothes. We all absolutely had more dirty laundry than clean so the endeavor took basically all day…
Our hosts in Birmingham, Kyle and Sean, have birthdays on Christmas Eve and Christmas, respectively. So the night before Christmas, all through the Garrison, the trickers were celebrating, as G-Space DJed.
Somehow they even got me to sort of seated miniature half backflip sitting crosslegged on the trampoline. It’s hard to explain the energy that permeates the group. There are two trampolines in the backyard, and some practiced their tricks on them, the rest of the group cheering them on.
I got the opportunity to talk to a few people about their experiences, how they got into the sport. They echoed the sentiment that it is hard to capture their passion for what they do in words. What they don’t realize is they don’t need to because it radiates out of them as they speak. Even that is difficult to properly represent in words. The night continued this way for a while, as people slowly began to disperse. After we felt we had appropriately revered in the evening, it was time to sleep.
There are 17 of us traveling together at this point; 8 from OH, 4 from CT, 2 from D.C, 1 from NY, 1 from MD, 1 from MA and Vivian. When we stay with someone, it’s more of an invasion. So far, we are always welcomed with open arms.
Our stuff is piled everywhere. We ourselves are strewn across the flat. Most people talk tricking, a language I still haven’t quite mastered. But, as they keep saying, it’s a feel good vibe in here. The amount of talent casually distributed throughout the house is mind blowing. They take turns doing flips on the trampoline in the yard while some are discussing their techniques and favorite tricks.
Currently, Vivian is making us dinner. He’s stuffed five chickens with ground pork, ground beef, bacon, freshly squeezed chestnuts, mustard, white wine and spices. As many people as there are knives are peeling potatoes to be mashed. We are napping, creating music, writing, cooking, cleaning, talking, tricking, talking tricking, exchanging gifts, snacking and generally chilling as a newly blended family for our Christmas celebration.