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Good people on the road to Croatia

June 1, 2010

bad weather, small service station, long wait

We were picked up at a service station 20 miles before Munich.  They stopped whilst we were hassling an Austrian couple with a full car, trying to convince them that we three could ‘squeeze’ in…  The Austrians were shrugging and wanting to leave.  It was getting late and we’d been rained on all day.

There were two people in the car that had just pulled up and the driver asked whether we would take their lift or continue trying our luck with the Austrian couple.  He waited with patience, a sort of expectant patience, then moved their luggage so that ours could squeeze in.

They drove a people wagon and two suit bags now hung in the boot.

The man spoke good English, translating our more complicated conversations to his wife.  He asked our profession, talked about the baptism that they were returning from and explained if he or his wife laughed suddenly at the radio.

They have four children, the youngest Jakob is still at home finishing his studies. They were upright and intelligent so that somehow I became ashamed of the open beer bottle we were sharing in the back.

They had a plan.  They’d drop us at a service station where we could hitch a lift into Austria, 20km before Salzburg.

We spoke about small things – hitchhiking, the scenery, the baptism. I then told them about my year as a parish administrator and the reverence that the baptism register commanded.  By the end of that conversation I was a girl with an u nambiguous calling who had put faith on hold to struggle vs climate change.  I was also full of opinions about the pope’s proposed visit to England and other church controversies.

As we approached Salzburg the rain kept beating down and the night came.  We assured our hosts that with our wind-up torch we could pitch our tent behind the service station.

The couple discussed before the wife bent back to address us:

”We have thought that it rains so much and is dark, so that you won’t have another chance for a car to stop this evening.  We live 9km from the freeway and have a flat with 2 beds and a sofa.  We can take you back to the service station at 10.30am tomorrow.”

This was one day after the reggae festival (see a video of Czech Reggae here – and the thought of a shower and indoor place to sleep was blissful.  We quickly agreed, yes.

As we pulled up to their house, through the after hours darkness of RUHPOLDING we were exhausted.  Climbing out of the car we were led past their house and to a flat.  In the car we had misunderstood the mother, assuming that we would share their flat and pile onto the sofa bed.  Instead we had our own flat in the Bavarian mountains: three separate beds, clean sheets, fresh towels and a bath.

The wife/mother met us on the doorstep where we sat smoking and explained that her husband was the protestant priest in the village.  She laughed and murmured that his kindness was to give him a story for his sermon next Sunday.

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