People of the Week: Mirjam, Jakop, Eduard and Lourdes

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We planned on having a “Person of the Week” but have already fallen a little behind.  We just left our third host, and no posts have been made to date.  You would think we would have plenty of time as professional hobos, but that is not the case.  If it’s not touring a medieval cathedral, it’s doing laundry or searching for accommodations or relaxing in the sun.  It is challenging work.

But tonight, we’ve decided to stay in to catch up on our overdue entries.

Mirjam – Tallinn, Estonia

Mirjam was kind enough to be our very first CouchSurfing host.  We have had Germans, Brazilians, Taiwanese, and Britons stay with us in Chicago, but this was our first time as Surfers ourselves.  Mirjiam is from Viljandi, a small town in southern Estonia, and is a genetics student at Tallinn University of Technology.  She acted as our escort and translator as we toured Tallinn’s old town.  For those unfamiliar with Estonian, there is no faking this language.  There is no way you will pronounce“kus asub tualettruum” correctly.  Sorry, you are not finding that bathroom, pal.

She shared a few stories with us from the Soviet occupation, although she was quite young at the time.  Her grandmother spent some time in a Siberian gulag, and Mirjam recalls the empty shelves and ration coupons.  Estonia has come a long way.  We almost mistook Tallinn for Schaumburg while shopping for groceries one afternoon.

Our time with Mirjam was short.  She and her roommate Ingmar were headed to Tartu for a traditional dance festival.  We’ll be sure to see them again on our next trip to Estonia.

Jakop – Stockholm, Sweden

Now, I have met a lot of anime fans over the years, but Jakop takes his manga seriously.  Aaron, you could learn a thing or two from our Swedish friend.  We thank him for introducing us to Lissie (from Rockford, believe it or not), Mademoiselle K, and Dr. Horrible but he also forever damaged my taste buds with two scourges of mankind.

I am referring, of course, to Lakrisal and filmjölk.  I will attempt to describe the horror of these concoctions.

In the case of Lakrisal, someone had the bright idea of combining ammonium chloride and liquorice.  Take a swig of Drano and toss back a few black Jelly Belly’s, and you’ll get the general idea.

Believe it or not, the Swedes can’t get enough of this stuff.  Jakop pops these babies like M&M’s and forces it upon his guests to watch the train wreck.  I was definitely not a fan, but Kim spit it out after about three one second.

However, I would gladly eat a barrel of Lakrisol than another spoonful of filmjölk (fil for short).

I have had night terrors since trying the mouth-WMD known as fil.  It is essentially buttermilk crossed with yogurt and sour cream.  Jakop poured two large, lumpy bowls of fil and corn flakes for himself and Kim.  He offered me the same, and I had the good judgment to have a taste first before committing.

Think spoiled milk flavored Yoplait.  Jakop, I still can’t get that taste out of my mouth.

Neither experience soured our time with Jakop, and he promised to come visit after we resettle somewhere in the US.  We ended up joining Jakop and his friend Nicoli (pictured above) for their usual Tuesday jazz night in Södermalm.

Eduard & Lourdes – Barcelona, Spain

After a few cold days in Stockholm, we were off to Spain to spend three nights with our new friends Eduard and Lourdes.  Eduard was hit by a car while riding his bicycle, so he was confined to the apartment with a bandaged arm and fractured tibia for the duration of our stay.  This didn’t stop him from cooking dinner for us though.  He made a Spanish omelet on our arrival and delicious Paella for our last night together.

When Eduard isn’t limping around his apartment or feeding hungry Americans, he is a hospital administrator and amateur DJ.  He has an impressive mixing studio in the upper level of his apartment and an even more impressive terrace overlooking the Sants neighborhood of Barcelona.

After ten days in Northern Europe where we were completely reliant on English, we were ready to dust off our Spanish. ¡Me gusta!

Language barrier es muy dificil.  Eduard is a self-proclaimed novice English speaker, and his girlfriend Lourdes spoke a bit less.  Unfortunately, our Spanish was considerably worse.  Our vocabulary consists mostly of useless phrases such as “Gato negro está en la biblioteca”. Rarely relevant.  Even still, we all spoke enough of each language to have three fun evenings together.  We drank vino y cerveza and discussed the finale of PERDIDOS. ¡No me digas lo que no puede hacer!

They were terrific hosts, and we were sad to leave.  I think our Spanish has improved a little already.  Muchos gracias, Eduard y Lourdes!

We are staying in a hostel in northern Bacelona for a few nights before heading to Valencia.  Hopefully we can arrange another host in Madrid for more fun en España.

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