Communication. A necessary form of expressing ourselves whether it is verbal, written or gestured.
With only hours left in Baltimore before departing for Prague, I discovered that my iphone 4 would not work in the Czech Republic. Steve said, “Don’t worry about it. We will get a Czech phone for you within a week or two of arriving there. “WE??” Is he the Pope? A week or two? Was he joking? I am a female, mother, daughter and friend, and as such need to be connected on a daily basis. With this in mind, and against direct orders from the boss who planned to suspend my US mobile phone line as soon as we landed in Prague, I ran to the nearest Verizon store and bought myself an iphone 5C with a 2 year plan including global data ! I know. A bit impetuous. Incommunicado does not work for me. I rationalized this figuring not only would I have a functioning phone for the 1st week in Prague, but I would have a phone that I can count on using when I travel back to the States to visit. I am NOT giving up my US mobile number, Diplomatic threats notwithstanding.
Then, upon meeting the lovely tech folks at the US Embassy in Prague, I was delighted to discover that I might be able to use a local Vodafone SIM card in my new hardware. “OK. Let’s give it a try”, I said. An account was created, a card was ordered, and sure enough I have a working Czech mobile number!! Fantastic except for one little thing, with the emphasis on “LITTLE”.
I have already managed to lose the little tool to pop the SIM card in and out. Am I going to have to commandeer a stash of paper clips or safety pins for swapping cards in the future? Probably. In addition, the Verizon SIM card that is my precious US transmitter, is smaller than my pinky nail. I am storing this in a plastic memory card holder, which in itself is no larger than a plastic pill box, with the hopes I can find this in my carry-on when the time comes.
The pinky nail itself has a communication story of it’s own. Or lack of. When out for a walk the other day, I stumbled upon an upscale salon. Clearly marked in the window was a sign that read “Deluxe manicure, pedicure and gel”. Excellent, and with dinner with the Ambassador on the horizon, I needed a fresh manicure. Except that despite the services clearly communicated in English, the technician did not speak one word of it, and to date I only speak a dozen words of Czech. I need to get on that, I know. Anyway, I figured how difficult could it be communicate what I needed through gestures and a smile. Well the end result was the same, sort of. I tried to explain that I wanted my existing gels soaked off with acetone. She looked at my as if I had 2 heads. I pointed to the bottle of polish remover and a bowl, but she proceeded to grab my hands and meticulously file off the gel one finger at a time. Having not used an electric file, this painstaking process took 45 minutes. It was only then then the electric file appeared to shave down my cuticles. No soaking, nippers or cuticle oil here! It was yet another hour before the liquid “gel”, which came in a vessel that looked like a honey pot, was applied. Long process. I must say the result was pretty, and only cost 490 czk or about $25 US. Truly a bargain although in the end I think I have liquid acrylic and not gel. No way these babies are coming off with acetone. More filing in my future, and about 2 weeks to learn some manicure vocabulary. Namočte své nehty v acetonu prosím!
Finally, as I learn to communicate with the locals, the tourists are going to have to try to communicate a little better with me. For instance, today when I took Lexi out for her daily walk, two women gestured at me to get my attention. I was listening to music with headphones on, so didn’t initially hear what they were trying to say. Upon muting “American Pie” by Don McLean (very appropriate), I heard them shout “Castle? Where? Speak English?” OK, they didn’t need to shout even if I was a local Czech woman which they apparently thought. I am not hearing impaired, nor are most Czechs. Kudos to me, I suppose, for walking the dog in my Euro, black boots and a rain slicker instead of my usual white running shoe attire. I shot them a huge smile, hesitated and said, “I speak perfect English, thank you” which brought on boatloads of laughter from all. With nothing but a hand gesture, I turned them about face and pointed out the castle location which I was ever so happy to communicate.