Leather Travels

29. April 2011

Today is my last day “horse-sitting” in Germany. The three-week experience has fully finally dampened my longing for horses, riding, and animals. These horses gave me  something to fuss over.  It took about an hour each way to get out to the barn, plus a 10-minute hike up a steep hill. Not only did I fix my horse craving I got in shape in the three weeks as well! I brought an apple with me for the road back each day as I moseyed my way down back to catch the bus, my feet jamming into the front square toes of my boots, which slowly started hurting quite badly by the end of it. Those boots shouldn’t really be ridden in. They were the first pair of really fancy boots id gotten and id meant for them only to be showy going-out boots. But, sometimes through necessity one has to make exceptions. Just as they turned into being rainy day and snow boots, which they never would have in the US.

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But they, like I, have gone through many stages of adaptation on this trip. They started off a soft, almost suede texture.  After getting doused in rainstorms and covered in snow salt, they dried up and cracked for a few months. I didn’t have the funds or knowledge to get any sort of oil or leather cleaner so they sat, and cracked. Recently I got a hold of some leather cleaner and moisturizer and let them soak a few days, putting on more moisturizer almost daily and they are back to normal, back to their true supple leather form! But ,about three shades darker than they were before and the suede feel is gone. Like I said, I can relate.

I’m turning back into my Indian skin colored self again as well with the seasons. In summer, I really feel like myself. I can really shine and have a good time, whereas winter really pays a toll on me. Coming out of the winter, my hair is somehow nearly black and longer than it has been since high school, but this time natural colors. I must look like something straight out of a western movie, waiting for buses around town with braided hair and tanned leathery skin, lanky blue jeans and real western U.S. cowboy boots. They’ve come on such a journey with me, it will be comforting to say when I get back, that they shared my European adventure with me as well. While I was riding the German countryside on the little quarter horse I’d been watching after I had one guy near one of the big English barns stare at me as I approached before whipping out his camera to snap a bunch of pictures. I mean, I guess, surrounded by the Bavarian countryside, a dun quarter horse with a western saddle, topped with a dark skinned plaid shirted rider on top, I did .. Perhaps look a little out of place. Ive definitely had some stares on more than one account. Riding two city buses I have to take, I get the weird looks flashed my way. Maybe its just because they can smell my boots.

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On the other hand, without the help of the all the stuff I’ve been sent from the U.S since leaving last June, I wouldn’t have survived this winter. Two pairs of boots that were sent, my real jackets since I went through until October with just light ones. The only drawback there is, I get to look forward to shipping that big moving box back. I’ve already started a nice pile in a part of my room with that box and the stuff I wont be needing anymore as the warm spring heat slowly, finally, douses my window pane each day. It’s only rained a couple of times the past few weeks, and when it does, it remains that warm balmy rain. That’s when it really feels like summer. Slowly the ice cream displays are rolled back out on the sidewalks and every self-respecting Germans hand is equipped with a two balled or “kugeled” ice cream cone. Old and young alike are never to be walking around on a sunny day without an ice cream cone. But for 1.70€ a cone, its an easy splurge to make. And the time of the Biergarten has come; its summer time and the Gartens have opened, offering their views of the entire city here, perched up on little hills. After a good hike you can’t beat drowning your thirst with a big mug of German beer. Freiburg doesn’t have as many hills to be drinking on, but they certainly had good Biergartens with great beer.

The past few weeks has also been full of meeting eve more people from around he world. Study Abroad here seem to be unique in that I meat people from more other European countries than Germany itself. I’ve probably met people from nearly every European country, and more from other non European countries. I now have friends from Iceland, Finland, Norway, china, Japan, Russia and the likes. You meet someone from Iceland and think wow, what is that even like_ It seems to far off an romantic to me. It’s on my life’s itinerary at some point to visit.

Sniffly, I am about ready to head off to the barn for my last rendezvous with the horses. My boots will probably tread their last steps near horses until August. They can soak in some more leather oil. The build up of horse hair and dust is slowly having an affect on my allergies finally. I’ve been sneezing all morning, its time to wash the horse clothes for a bit. And plow through one intense summer of German. I’ve … probably signed up for more than I can handle. But challenges are good important. I thrive on them. So Monday is the official start of potentially one of my worst, or best ideas. If all works out as it should ill finish about 5 classes at one university and complete two direct at my home university classes at the same time in Freiburg, raking in a ton of credits to start off my first at home semester of graduate school.  Then my language skills will be put to the test.

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