Saturday, June 4, 2011

Surfing in Prague

We went surfing in Prague...yes, that's right, surfing.  Couch surfing, that is.  Matthew introduced me to the concept of couch surfing - an online network of travelers who open their homes and offer their couches for people passing through the country.  It's an opportunity to meet locals in various places around the world and experience those places as more than just a tourist.  I was fascinated to be able to learn what daily life looks like, see how families function, learn about local places that tourists typically do not get to see, as well as form relationships with people all around the globe.  Although fascinated, I was also nervous when we first arrived in Prague.  I mean, you never know what it will be like in someone else's home, how much of the language they speak, whether you will get along, etc etc.

My nerves were calmed almost immediately upon entering the home of the first family that welcomed us.  It was a young couple with a sweet two year old boy who smiled and said, "couch surfers!" when he saw us for the first time.  We were captivated during our conversations with them, especially when we heard about how the couple started up a "distance adoption" program in Kenya where people can sponsor kids and help pay for their educational expenses.  Those of you that know us well know that Kenya is very dear to our hearts.  Not only that, but it was inspiring for us to see people our own age who went to Kenya and just started trying to meet people and make connections to start a program like this.  They now have hundreds of kids who have been "adopted" and a website that they put together for the "parents" to see pictures of their sponsored child, write letters, and even view their grade reports.  I don't believe that it is coincidence that I had just begun to read "The Purpose Driven Life" which we found in a used bookstore in Edinburgh a few days earlier.  After all, one of the main objectives of our trip is to figure out what we feel called to do for the rest of our lives.  Meeting this family in Prague and hearing about the program they started on their own definitely feels like another piece of the puzzle was put in place.  We have no idea what this puzzle will look like in the end but we are excited to see different parts revealed and the picture beginning to take shape.  After our few days with this family we were sad to leave them.  They truly welcomed us into their family and shared their lives with us.  I hope we are able to stay in contact with them as we continue on our journey.

Matthew and I stayed at two other homes during our time in Prague - one night with a young couple and two nights with a family with five kids.  The young couple had a traditional Czech dinner ready for us and we had a great time enjoying the meal and talking about life.  They couch surfed in the US and saw many of the national parks (some of which we have not even seen ourselves!) so they showed us their photos which made me miss home.  Staying with the family of seven definitely reminded me of my childhood!  The five kids even included one set of twins, a boy and a girl, just like in my family.  The kids didn't speak English but we managed to communicate through music and games.  On Friday night, another family with three kids were over for dinner and ended up spending the night.  They pulled out all kinds of instruments including cymbals, maracas, violin, guitar, recorder, piano, jimbay, xylophone (I could go on) and spent the evening playing music and singing together.  The girls kept reappearing in different dresses and the boys were busy trying to make a disco ball out of foil and flashlights.  A while later all the kids came into the room with tickets they had made for everyone that said "discoteque".  After a late night of music and dancing, Matthew and I woke up in the morning and made breakfast for everyone.  This was a feat as we are used to cooking for two and we found ourselves cooking for about 15!  Hopefully they enjoyed the meal and I am hoping that everyone had enough to eat :)

Before going to Prague,  I heard it described as a fairy tale land.  I could understand what people meant as we were amazed to walk around and see much beautiful architecture.  We enjoyed strolling along the riverside, through the parks, and along the streets.  We walked across the Charles Bridge and enjoyed watching the artists and street performers.  It was fun to find little cafes and restaurants to dine in, not to mention the occassional stop for gelato!  I really enjoyed exploring the city with Matthew.  Next, an all day train ride to Germany where we get to spend time with our friend Rina who lived in Colorado Springs for a while but is now back in Germany.  Then, to visit Lou and Cathy, our dear friends from Colorado who are now living in Germany as well.  My sweet friend Jenny is also passing through for a week on her way back to Colorado from Uganda, so we will be able to spend a week with her at Lou and Cathy's.  More about our time in Germany in the next post...


1 comment:

  1. Yay for couch surfing! So glad you had a positive experience! I have contact information for you for a friend in Florence who would be happy to help you out if he has time and may be able to recommend a place to stay. I'll send you his info in an email. Blessings!