Hi Servas folks-
I’m writing you a little note to put on your blog. It seems to me like Servas is a network of people that, somehow, lands synchronicity…
I traveled to Germany last spring (2011) for my first overseas solo-traveling. I began the now in-process journey of retracing my family roots. I happened to find out about Servas about a month before I left the country, and quickly applied and was accepted just before leaving the country.
I spent my travels last spring in Bayern (known to Americans as ‘Bavaria.’ It’s the south-eastern part of Germany) where my family is from. I spent several weeks meeting family friends and family members, eating amazing food, feeling overwhelmed in culture and language-shock, and lugging along my trusty but heavy traveler’s backpack (or ‘rucksack’ as the Germans called it). Part of my lugging-grievances was the Servas book. Really? Was I really going to use it? It was heavy and bulky, and I often looked at it and rolled my eyes. I was spending all of my travels with family and friends–there was no need for it!
But after about a month, I felt I needed a dose of 5Rhythms dancing. 5Rhythms is a dancing meditation that I practice in the states. (I like to call it “meditation for people who can’t sit still.”) At home I practice two times a week for about two hours each time, and not having that touchstone in my traveling lifestyle was hard. I was antsy. I wanted to DANCE!! Thankful for the wonders of technology, I popped online and found several places offering classes. I found a three-day workshop in Freiburg that seemed like just the thing! At the last minute, I applied for the workshop. The workshop was expensive, and I was on a shoestring budget. I was looking up hostels and places to stay…and then I thought of that yellow-covered, bulky Servas book that was tucked into the bottom of my pack.
I called them up, and N— answered (I’ll not include their names, for privacy). Of course I could stay with them! Oh, wait. Hm. She and A— were leaving for a family reunion the day I was arriving. Hm. Well, no problem. Because I was a Servas member, I could use their apartment while they were gone!
Suddenly, the next day, I arrived at their beautiful apartment. A– was sick, but still invited me in, fed me, gave me the spare room and let me settle in for a little bit. Then he found me a map of Freiburg (which he ripped from a book just so I could carry it along with me), loaned me his grandmother’s bicycle, and sent me on my way to the workshop.
The workshop was intense. We danced for 4-7 hours each day for three d ays. It was such a blessing to land at the quiet, tidy, art-filled apartment in the evening. I was welcome to drink their tea and eat their food. The place, although not mine, felt very familiar and safe. When A— and N— came home two days later, they invited me to stay for another night. We had amazing meals and good discussions, talks about family, heritage, Nazism, change; the food system, gardening, urban vs. rural living.
Can you imagine me: riding his grandmother’s green 3-speed bicycle, with an almost flat-tire, up a steep, steep, steep cobblestone road, in the pouring down rain, drenched through to my skin, so full of ice cream I could hardly move? There was nothing to do but pull my shawl off of my hair, lean my face back into the rain, and laugh! Laugh and laugh and laugh! I laughed so hard I had to walk my bike up the rest of the hill, where A— waited, grinning, for me in the deluge.