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Crossings and Commemoration

Written 23.6.2010

Today I crossed the border six times and I never would have noticed had it not been for a lonely watchtower and the indicators on my map. Slowly, slowly, I worked my way across fields and meadows, and paths lined with trees to Ilsenburg. After a serious navigational challenge involving a railroad track and a cornfield, I passed 18 of the most peaceful kilometers I have biked thus far. The countryside was very meditative, and the paths straight and simple. I enjoyed the sweet-smelling morning in the country. I made it through Hornburg, took an accidental detour on a steep hillside, encountered more navigational challenges, and eventually got on the road to Abbenrode and Ilsenburg.

Here, I passed the “Iron Curtain” Monument, which consists of a massive piece of metal, which I assumed to be iron, based on its reddish streaks and namesake. There were, unfortunately, no signs indicating its significance, or even a standard brown sign indicating the former border. In a way, its imposing presence speaks for itself, and words are not necessary, and would inhibit, the powerful emotions its stirs. However, its relative obscurity currently necessitates some sort of explanation, which I hope will be added soon. Monuments do little good without understanding the purpose of commemoration.

Ilsenburg is a beautiful city, complete with lake with white swans. I talked with my Dad on the phone, which was great, dined on pesto pasta, and am currently planning to watch part of the Germany-Ghana game at a sportsbar around the corner. Tomorrow, I’m taking on 47k of the hills of the Harz. I’m excited for the scenery, nervous for the climbs, but generally feeling good and ready to go.

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