Friday, March 1, 2013

Chapter 11: Pining for Deutschland

We are still trapped on base. We ventured out briefly with our sponsor to the village of Ramstein outside the base to get a rental car, but since I still have not gotten a base ID, it is a pain to get me back on base. I'm hoping to get my card today. Both Lawna and I have an international driver's pass that we picked up at AAA in San Antonio, but the Air Force doesn't really want us driving without a real German license. I'm hoping to take care of that today too. Lawna still needs to study for hers. 

As soon as we take care of these items, we'll start looking for an apartment or house. Our sponsor has been urging us to get one near the base, but others recommend living l further out and say that the traffic to the base isn't bad. This weekend we plan to just drive around the area and see what suits us. I would like to be near a train station and maybe a shuttle line to the base. Also, living in a little America doesn't appeal to me much. Lawna just doesn't want to have to drive very far to work. 

The whole transition process has been a bit of a pain, with an incredible amount of paper work that is hard to keep straight. Also, the orientation process seems kind of disorganized. It seems to me that base ID cards should have been first on the agenda. We can't do much without them. We're both kind of sick of Ramstein and want to see Germany. We also want to live in a place where we can cook our own meals. Our sponsor took us to the commissary the first day, right off the plane, to buy food, but when we arrived at our room, we discovered that there was nothing to cook with other than a microwave. No pots or pans or even forks and knives. Can't spread peanut butter or even uncork a wine bottle.

It will get better, and soon, I'm sure. But right now it's a pain. Having a car now will help, though we got lost on base last night trying to find our room. Ha! 

We changed our cell service to German T-Mobile, last night, but I need to go back to the phone store because it doesn't appear to be correctly activated. The support information is all in German, beyond my current linguistic abilities (I'm working at it!) It just seems like we are putting out small brush fires each couple of hours, but also gaining some ground, inch by inch. I'm sure we'll like it here once we get settled.As I told Lawna, we haven't made it to Germany yet. Ramstein is just a piece of America.  The weather has been mostly cold and gray, but sunny days are in the weekend forecast. There are a lot of ravens that call out during the night, and they sound like something out of a horror movie. We're used to the sounds of grackles in San Antonio, but the ravens sound really eerie. Oh well, before we know it, spring will be upon us with all with all the German celebrations and festivals that go with it. Once we have a place to live and cook, and all of our stuff arrives (and our bikes!), we'll have great fun.

I talked to some people at the education center. I may get to teach not only at Ramstein, but also have opportunities to teach in other parts of Europe and Turkey. I might actually move for a semester (at government or University expense)  to teach in another place. No promises, but it's a possibility. That would be cool. Since classes are sometimes in other areas of Europe, I would like to live near a train station. However, I have not even been offered a class yet. I don't have time for one at the moment.

Our Vonage distance long phone service is not available to us yet, as we have no direct internet line in our room, so you will just have to enjoy our ramblings via e-mail. The wi-fi here isn't the best, and people have told me to get used to it. Ramstein is in a rural area, and DSL is rare. 4G is non-existent. To get that you need to go to a big city. It may improve during the course of our stay. Of course, by the time that happens, there will be something still better.

We're keeping our chins up, taking it day by day. These frustrations will all be a distant memory soon, and the glories Germany will finally be open to us.


Today we finally received our ID cards and had our phones properly set up. We also took a drive around the area to visit the outlying towns where we might live. Some of the hamlets are truly beautiful, and this was while visiting them on a cold, gray day--which apparently is pretty typical German weather. I had been interested initially in Kaiserslauten because I figured there might be more to do there, but driving through it impressed me less than the promotional material we had viewed. I was surprised at how sizable a city it is. A smaller community with less traffic appeals to us more, as long as it has a community. Kaiserslauten and its amenities, including a world class orchestra, will still be nearby. We will be checking out apartments this weekend, and the weather should be sunny and pleasant. It is wonderful to finally get off the base. I did not take any photos outside the base, but I will include some in future posts. We have three years!

With much love from the land of edelweiss and pilsner,

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