Home > Uncategorized > On Hills and Kindness

On Hills and Kindness

Written 22.6.2010

Grandmother Peters gently reached toward me to remove a strand of hair from my fleece, while speaking to me in German, trying to make me understand what I should do with my keys before I left. Completely lost, the solution presented itself in the matron’s daughter, who asked if all was well, took my keys, and showed me out the gate. She advised that I ride on the sidewalks when I could, and I was reminded of my own mother, who always gives me the general advice: “don’t do anything dangerous.” And so I left Oebisfelde with a smile and warm thoughts.

It was going to be a hot one, and I quickly removed my layers just outside of town. The roads were pretty good, with a few gravely paths, all the way to Beendorf. Now, I’ve never been one to complain about hills. In fact, nothing gets me going in the morning like conquering a good climb. But today’s landscape was what I might call exhausting. At Beendorf, I followed my map up, up, up a lonely forested path, for the chance to bike along the former border itself. After a series of roller-coaster-like dopes and climbs, I found the border path, paved with a bumpy set of concrete slabs. Here, the trees to my right were shorter, and I realized they were only as old as me.

The path ended abruptly with a watchtower at the B1. Then, my directions got stranger. They involved somehow crossing the autobahn, pushing my bike over a field, and sensing the control road. When I saw the busy autobahn I realized there was no way I could cross it and turned around, and made for Morsleben. I zoomed down the road, enjoying the altitude I had accumulated, and stopped in the village for a snack from a bakery. As it turns out, Morsleben lies in a deep valley, and I faced a long, dizzying climb out of the village.

Eventually, I made my way to Hotensleben, where I visited the Border Monument. Here, there are original facilities which include a wall, extra lighting (making it easy to shoot people in the field at night), car barriers, border signal fence, and of course, a watchtower on top of a hill. Today, the area is supplemented with informational signs, and pamphlets.

I then began a very slow 3k, and arrived in Schoningen by mid-afternoon, finding a hotel after a little investigation. When I got to my room, I laid on the bed, unmoving for nearly 15 minutes, absolutely exhausted. My legs feel like I’ve just played an entire frisbee tournament. I eventually went out to find dinner and was pleased to find a small bistro where I sat outside and watched nothing in particular on the town square. I had a bit of a chat with my waiter, telling him about my trip. First, he brought me sparkling water, and said it was free, which I gratefully accepted, and then he wouldn’t let me pay for any of my meal! I was flabbergasted, but he just wished me a nice evening, and everything I need on my trip. I thanked him profusely and walked back to my hotel, touched by his kindness and smiling quietly.

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