Finally home to report that our home exchange went smoothly with no problems or issues. Some commented, when told we were exchanging homes with a stranger, that they could never do that and aren’t we afraid of returning to a trashed house? Nope, didn’t happen. Everything was left the way we left it…with a few extras in the fridge. And we left Ruediger’s house in the same shape. The concept really works and the best part is staying in another part of the world for 24 nights free. We never would have taken on this experience if we would have had to dish out the extra dollars for lodging. It’s a win-win. Of course, you have to do your homework and stay in close “email” contact with your host prior to the trip and follow the rules laid out by homeexchange.com. It doesn’t make sense that someone would pay the annual fee only to trick someone in order to ransack and steal items from your home. Maybe one might be paranoid if they had tons of gold lying around or expensive cars with keys available. But, common sense prevails and it is an adventure worth looking into. It was only our second house swap but we’ll be pursuing more.
That being said, I guess it’s obvious we found Germany absolutely charming, in terms of countryside and citizens. Something happened to Charlie just days after we returned which might show a fundamental difference in American versus European attitudes. He was jogging down Peninsula Avenue, as usual, and hugged the side of the road which was shaded; no sidewalk on that side, the sidewalk, on the other side of the street, was being baked in the sun. Not much traffic on that portion of the road and when he heard a car approaching, he drifted off the pavement onto the grassy shoulder. As the car (truck) passed, the drive yelled out…”The sidewalk’s on the other side!” (He was probably also calling Charlie an idiot under his breath.) Jess has run that route, only to be yelled at. I’ve even experienced it while walking on the sidewalk…kids yelling something stupid. We just accept this idiocy and move on; however, I dare say this would never happen in Europe. There is a lot more respect evident within that society. Just standing at a roadway waiting for the little green man to appear, letting us know it was safe to cross…my impulse was to go ahead and cross when I didn’t see any cars but the rest of the pedestrians just waited patiently until the red light turned to green. We saw a lot more respect for the law, for other people and for the environment. Not sure when our country took a turn toward disrespect and intolerance, but it’s made much more evident when traveling to other parts of the world. Does it make me “unpatriotic” to have those opinions? I would hope not…just wishing our country would learn from others in areas where we need improvement.
I know the saying “the grass is always greener” probably comes to mind and we did hear about heavy taxation. We were surprised to hear that each German is responsible for paying into a tax used for reunification after the events of 1990. Per Wikipedia “The “solidarity tax”, a 5.5% surcharge on the income tax, was instated by the Kohl government to restore the infrastructure of the new states to the levels of the western ones. The tax, which raises €11 billion a year, will be maintained until 2019 at least.” When asked how they feel about this, they just shrug their shoulders and say it’s something that needed to be done and they just pay it. I’m sure I’ll hear rebuttals from my far right friends about how we pay for the results of Katrina, etc., (bring it on)…but my point is that our country needs an attitude adjustment.
OK, enough politics…not sure if I’ll keep this blog going. You certainly don’t want to know what I have for breakfast every morning and most of you are not interested in my political rantings so not really sure what to do with it. I started it to document our journey with my parents and their aging issues. Now that they are ensconced into a lovely assisted living facility, our angst is eased. It’s not a perfect situation as mom is not 100% happy with it, but it’s certainly better than their previous situation and help is just outside the door if they need it. Of course, as the sandwich generation, we are all still involved with our kids and grandkids, and when one crisis is resolved, another one seems to appear, so we’re not off the hook yet. Let me know if you have any suggestions for furthering this discussion and/or what direction to take from here on out.
So long for now…