Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lost In Munsterland

I pride myself on having a keen instinct for directions, so I am little tentative to tell you the following stories from the past week (yes, there are actually two). I figure, though, that if we are going to live in a foreign country, than I need to be able to laugh at myself. So, here I go:

On Monday, Dana and I were desperate to get to Kaufland’s (kind of like a German version of Walmart) to get Dylan some shoes, Dana a hair dryer, and a couple of pillows. We weren’t exactly sure where Kaufland’s was, so we did a quick search on Google maps and carefully wrote down the directions on paper. It seemed like the map was in the wrong direction, but who are we to question Google Maps when we were on Day 4 in Borken? The map said it was about 1.5 miles away, which is consistent with the distance we rode in the car on our first trip to Kaufland’s. So we walked, and walked, and walked. We followed the directions perfectly and it took us to…the Kaufland Haus. We didn’t ring the doorbell to say hello to Mr. and Mrs. Kaufland, but we now know where they live.

This is Kauflands - where we wanted to go.
This is Mr. and Mrs. Kaufland's house. 

We ended up on the outskirts of town and ended up taking the bus back to town (see bus episode on my random thoughts post.) After all of this, I was determined to still find Kaufland’s. We were a little cranky and hungry after walking for the last 45 minutes. I told Dana that we walk to the center of town and my instincts would get us there. She reluctantly came along. It didn’t take very long to find Kaufland’s once we got the center of town. I pumped my fists in victory as we walked in and explained to Dana for the 3,201st time that “I just need to trust my Y chromosome. Google Maps is not wired with this type of instinct.” She was not impressed.

Fast forward to Thursday morning when I took the Sprinter Bus to Munster from Borken. My bus stop was approximately 500 meters (1/4 of a mile) from the Business School Building, so I didn’t really check a map to make sure that I would take the right direction. I was so confident in my instincts that I displayed on Monday that it wouldn’t be a problem. It was a problem. I kept walking and would stop to use my instinct to give me the next step. I could also see the Dom (large church at the center of town) from time to time to show me where I was in proximity to the center of town (pretty close to where I wanted to go.)

I was within range for a while… and then the wheels fell off. I got so turned around I had no idea where to go. My instincts became guesses. The Dom was out of sight. I was terribly lost. The good news is that Germany doesn’t really have ghettos, so I wasn’t in danger (except for my ego). After 45 minutes of walking I was simply happy to find a busy street (I had listened to nearly the entire Kollide album from our church's worship band). When I arrived there, I saw that I was two bus stops back from where I was dropped off. This is ok on a local bus, but the Sprinter Bus only stops 8-10 per hour, so to be back two bus stops is really messed up.

I found a taxi filling up at the gas station across the street. Asking a taxi driver if he is still on duty in German was out of my vocabulary range, so I walked up to him and muttered a half sentence in German and waited for him to get the hint that I had used my entire vocab repertoire and if the conversation didn’t immediately go to English, we were done. He said that he could take me, in English, if I was close. I convinced him I was.

The taxi ride was really a ride off shame for me. With each kilometer that we drove, I realized how badly I messed up the directions. The driver could hear me say, “Ouch” and “Wow” with each passing block. We finally arrived and I paid my taxi cab fare… 7.20 Euros. All I could think of for the rest of the morning was that I was a 7.20 euro taxi lost. I went into my office and shut the door behind me and didn’t talk to anyone for the entire morning. By lunch, I was able to confess my misfortune and laugh about it, but deep down, there is a Y chromosome that is badly bruised.

In this map, the red mark is where the Sprinter Bus originally dropped me off and my destination, the Finance building, was "B."  I got in the taxi at "A" and needed to be driven back into town.

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