One good thing about running into a co-teacher as you get off the train in a town whose name you can neither spell nor pronounce is that he can always help when it comes to finding the hostel.
And if he can speak enough Slovak to negotiate the sleeping arrangements with the hostel attendant, then all the better–or at least, that’s how it seems when the attendant is asking a lot of questions. It’s only after we’ve got our keys in hand and have crammed ourselves into the soviet-style clanking elevator that my co-teacher, Sam, tells me what the very concerned attendant was actually asking about:
Hostel Attendant: So, you’re sharing a room?
Sam Coworker: Um. No?
Hostel Attendant: But isn’t she your wife?
Sam Coworker: Actually, she’s my co-teacher. I barely know her. We basically just met.
Hostel Attendant: So… you’re sharing a room?
Sam Coworker: I actually don’t think she would appreciate that.
Mind you, as this conversation’s happening, I’m standing there smiling like an idiot, because I can’t understand a word of Slovak*, though I guess that explains all the strangely judgmental looks that the attendant kept shooting at me when we first walked in.
In any case, I’ve settled into my (private) room now, which shares a shower and a toilet with one other room. It’s got the feel of a college dormitory, and the entire concrete building echoes every time someone steps out into the hall. There’s no wi-fi or microwave or fridge, but the subzero temperatures just outside my window provide a decent solution to one of those problems. I’ve got my travel kettle and a canister of coffee. Lesson plans for the teenagers I’ll be teaching this week are mostly done. Life is good, for now.
We’ll see what tomorrow brings.
*I must admit that I am exaggerating. I can actually understand about five words of Slovak.