We're here! It's so bizarre. Like a whole other country.
This post is long, dear reader. You should either grab a snack, or go back to Facebooking. Might I suggest a brief nap in the middle?
Before I begin, I would just like to say that I wish I spoke German. While a lot of people here speak at least SOME English, all of the signs, TV stations, printed Materials, etc. are in German...I know you're probably thinking, "Duh?! It's Germany." Before I thought learning the language would simply be a bonus, It's now looking like learning the language may become more like a necessity.
The flight here was pretty terrible. And when I say terrible, I just mean 8 hours. Being seven months pregnant on a long flight is stupid. Just stupid. I thought, "Hey--I am feeling exceptionally comfortable these days. This flight will not phase me." I get a good chuckle when I think back on saying that. However, I did do everything in my power to ease the pain of jet lag; including: drinking tons of water (I got up to use the bathroom at least ten or eleven times..at least), eating lots of fruits and vegetables, avoiding caffeine, and attempting to stay awake during the day, and sleep on the plane (well that sleep part didn't happen--you can't have everything).
When we got to the airport in Germany it was almost overwhelming. To be truthful, I think we were too tired to be completely overwhelmed by anything. But we got off the plane, started walking inside to baggage claim, before we realized: "Oh wait......where are we going?" No one told us. Why would they? So, we stopped to use the bathroom first so we could think straight. The toilets here are different. They all look like this:
Alright, who's with me here: in America, if you saw that in an airport you might think, "Oh wait a second...I don't think I can go through here--this must be blocked," not in Germany. So we stood there baffled, (soooo American....so so American looking) for a few seconds before finding a customs agent to ask where the baggage claim area was. She instructed us to go through the forbidden barrier. When we did we met a man who was not happy to see us. When he asked where we were going, (to STAMP OUR PASSPORTS! YAY!!!) he laughed a "stupid Americans" laugh. Who could care. Who could even care? Not us.
When we got to baggage claim an Army guy (I'm not going to do ranks here---does anyone even know them? Probably not, so let's just make this blog easier from now on--ARMY GUY) was waiting for us, and a few other soldiers, (all going different places in Germany). We loaded up our tons and tons of luggage, (so American...so so American) on to these weird (but helpful) carts, and headed up to this waiting area, where we waited for a few hours for everyone else who was being stationed in Germany to arrive. Then we got our buses, (which was interesting because I THOUGHT we were taking trains, oh well) and headed our separate ways.
Our bus driver, by the way, was fabulous. I don't his name---I was too tired to ask. But he wore skinny jeans, very trendy--a plaid vest, (which he made LOOK trendy) and an oxford shirt. His was a little man, probably 5'8, 135 pounds--and in his later fifties, (He also smoked a cigarette that did not appear to have any odor?) his English was pretty good, but he also spoke in short sentences, "We drive all the way through to Vilseck, or we break?" He was very enthusiastic too--I think he LOVES bus driving. So, that's nice.
Anyway, the Autobahn is not insane. Forget what you were thinking. It's just like I-40, or any of the other highways you've been on. The only difference is that the people in the very far left lane can go whatever speed they want. The only problem is that there are other people on the road going the speed they want, so it's not like these drivers can just floor their Mercedes--they have to slow down and wait to find a way to get around someone. Most people are driving in probably the 90-110 mph range though; but does that really feel any different than 75? No. Not really:
(SIDE NOTE: Germans drive on the right side of the road, enter the highway on the right side, pass on the left, exit on the right, etc. They drive the same way we do. Apparently we DO have to take a test to get a German drivers license. Google really steered me wrong. However, I'm not sure if the Army is making us take that test, or if Germany is making us take that test. I'll let you know.)
We stopped at McDonalds.
Our bus driver must have thought, "Americans love McDonalds! We break here!" The McDonalds was beautiful, and clean. You know how in American McDonalds is usually relatively disgusting? At even the cleanest McDonalds there is usually ketchup on the table, or trash sticking out of an overflowing trashcan, or at the very the least there is very unkempt sweaty looking man flipping your burger, or taking your order--NOT IN GERMANY. I have not seen ALL of Germany, (obviously) but what I have seen is IMMACULATE. How?! HOW do they do it!!? I think Germans in general might just be a cleaner bunch of people. A cleaner bunch of luxury vehicle driving people.
Every car in the McDonalds parking lot was a Mercedes, BMW, or Audi--with the exception of the Volkswagon, (that must be owned the German Clampetts family). The Autobahn was no different. The majority of the cars driving looked brand new, and expensive--and small. I didn't see any Ford F-150s (So American...so so American) for example. I know you think I'm exaggerating. So I brought proof:
Apparently these cars just aren't considered "luxury vehicles" here. I don't know if that means they are less expensive here, compared with American though--I will DEFINITELY let you know! ;)
We finally got to Vilseck, where we met Steven's "sponsor" this "Army guy," (remember I'm leaving out the ranks unless it's pertinent to the story) is like our welcome wagon. He drove us around the base, and told Steven a lot of important information. He was really nice. I'm glad to know him.
The base here is different than I expected. It's cute--the buildings have that gingerbread cottage influence to them. It's very small, (which I'm okay with)--and is a lot more German than I anticipated. It's not exactly "America" like I thought. The street signs are German, German is written is everywhere, they use German products, European outlets, the people who work here are German---it's almost like we are IN Germany? ;)
Now, for some FAQ
WHERE IS YOUR CAR?
- It will be here in several weeks I think. We shipped the Ford Focus from Virginia before we left. But we are going to buy another car for the following reasons:
1. We are going to live off base--and I don't want to drive Steven to base at 4:30a.m. with a newborn baby (when that time comes).
2. We are going to live off base--and if there is an emergency, I'd like to be able to get to where I need to go.
3. We HATE the environment, and want to pollute it as much as possible--so we need at least two cars to do that.
4. If think I was serious about number 3, please stop reading my blog.
WHERE ARE YOU LIVING?
--Right now we are in the Army hotel, (which is very nice). We will be getting a realtor soon, who will help us find a place to live OFF BASE. Apparently they are giving the left over on-base housing to the enlisted army guys. But apparently (according to Steven's sponsor, who also lives off base) that is a good thing, because on base housing is terrible, (here anyway). But we wanted to live off base anyway.
WHEN WILL STEVEN DEPLOY?
---Anytime between tomorrow, and June-ish. But somehow this information keeps morphing, and subtly changing, but I would appreciate if you would pray that he does not deploy before the baby is born. Thank you.