(I actually wrote this a few weeks back, while I was in Ballenstedt. I hadn’t quite finished and then forgot to publish. Whoops!)
We had a visitor named Sabine come in from nearby Quedlinburg. She’s an old friend of Liz’s mother. It was actually quite a nice visit – or at least, it started as such. Unfortunately, I became rather ill before too long. Headache and a bit of a stomach bug. Some two or three hours into the visit, I was feeling so out of it that I just came to my room, lay down, and basically stayed in that state for a good twelve hours. I managed to achieve quite a few hours of sleep, which is a bonus!
I wish I’d been able to stay out longer. The friend was really quite, well, friendly. She had gone on a trip to St. Petersburg and picked up some Russian in a language course she was taking over there. She was so inclusive! She’d ask me questions and try to include me in the discourse, despite my fairly broken German. We talked a bit about flying and traveling to different countries. It seems she was in Chile (I believe to visit the family of her husband) for a while, then took a week in Germany to get some work done, only to travel on for her Russian trip. While she was in Chile, she took a picture of some roasted Meerschweinchen (German for guinea pig – “sea piglet”).
Liz, being the Russophile (and working on an essay for class), was sure to get Sabine’s input on her Alexander Blok reading. I could only follow a little bit of Sabine’s input, but she immediately drew comparison between the style of Blok in Balaganchik and the work of Alexander Puschkin. Liz valued her comments and ended up writing down some of them as notes.
It struck me how well read she was. I asked Liz about that a few days later, while we were Neinstedt. It seems Sabine works in Neinstedt, teaching Spanish part-time. No wonder she spoke so clearly and was so sure to include me in her discussions! I suspect she has plenty of experience convincing nervous pupils to speak a foreign language.