(Post originally written for friends travel blog, decided I should start remarking on the silly things that happen in my life.)
My first leg of a three month European adventure started in Slovakia. It took over thirty hours and seven forms of transportation to get from Asheville, North Carolina to Sverepec, Slovakia.
Upon my arrival I knew very little of this landlocked nation and was utterly clueless about how this week would change my concept of Eastern Europe and restore my faith in goodness of people. Slovakia has been conquered countless times and has been a part of epic empires throughout its history. Interestingly, Slovakia has failed to craft an international reputation differentiating itself from its counterpart the Czech Republic. But enough about the boring history, you can Wikipedia it for yourself…
The first thing we did was go to coffee. After five hours alone on a train without any familiar languages, the first thing I wanted to learn was some Slovak. My dear friend ‘Tati’ patiently helped me learn my numbers. To my untrained ear I heard, “ye-den, devah, three, shitty.” (In reality these are “jedna, dve, tri, štyri”). Upon hearing the shocking use of the word “four” I promptly decided I would be ordering four of everything, starting immediately. Turns out, if you need a multiple of any item, everything is better shitty. Shitty coffee, shitty castles, even shitty postcards. Best was when I asked the bartender for “Shitty vodka shots” and “Shitty beers please!!”
After “shitty” coffees we drove back to her family home. Her adorable parents welcomed me with open arms and literally no English. Which was…difficult. But these unbelievably gracious people filled up my plate and my heart. Without knowing me from Obama, her entire family spoke to me just like I understood every word coming out of their mouths. At dinner Tati was able to step in and translate all the basics including my previous reaction to the number ‘four’. This caused great hilarity. Her father looked across the table at me with his big, toothy and painfully attractive smile and said, “shitty fucked?!”
My southern Baptist roots quickly returned as my normally translucent cheeks flushed bright pink. I had never had any of my friends’ fathers speak to me this way; with or without a translation barrier. With my head in my hands laughing Tati quickly explained to me that her father was not trying to offend me or get in my pants. I had heard “fakt” which directly translates as ‘really?” My blush and shock had been a mistaken response to “four… really?!”
Well, my reaction caused quite the commotion at dinner. What I didn’t know is that I had made myself a village reputation. I was only the second North American to visit the village and this story spread like wild. Luckily for me the Sverepec summer dance was at the end of the week. I was thrilled to have the chance to experience something really authentic and special with my friend. What I didn’t know what how many people had been told about “fucked shitty.” Apparently, this was the favorite story told at the village summer dance. I had about fifteen men approach me, hold out there hands and pronounce “fucked shitty!” All hoping that I would blush and giggle, which most of the time I was easily able to oblige.
Just last week I received an e-mail from my friend saying that even now people drive by her house and yell..”fuuuccckkkeeeddd shiiiitttyyyy!”
It seems I may have left a bizarre mark on this little town. Now saying “four really?” is an inside joke that ever foreigner will now have to hear. I can’t say enough about the beauty and genuine kindness of the Slovak people. The crumbling castles that look over every hillside inspire an old world charm that I had never before encountered. Their warm hearts spilled out of the smiles in their eyes. I can’t wait to one day repay the kindness these people showed me. However, before I return I vow to learn more Slovak.