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May 29, 2006
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Coming here, my greatest fear was rejection. After all, it's a small town (pop. 500),
and we're Americans (Canadian would be better). Luckily, our next door
neighbors run a nursery and Sarah wanted to check it out to get some topsoil
and tomato starts. I was reluctant, fearing (again that word) my vocabulary
wouldn't be up to the task, but we looked over the wall and said Dobry den to an
old man who was moving some dirt one shovelful at a time. He got his son, who
called us over and introduced himself: Jarda (yard-ah), a 3rd generation
Jakubite. I understand Czech pretty well and learned some unpleasant history:
our house had been owned by a former Nazi collaborator and later
Communist who appropriated the land that is our back backyard
from Jarda's family. (Legally, of course, but what is the law?)

Jarda was charming and funny and suggested we someday get together for drinks.
He's also vice mayor of the village and offered his help in case we needed anything.
Later, as I was pruning a tree, he walked by on his side and I asked when we would
get together for a beer. Tonight? he suggested. What time? I asked. Seven o'clock.
Just then, Mr. Horvat appeared, saying we'd left our gate unlocked. (His appearance wasn't a total surprise--Mirek had invited him over for an English lesson.) A year ago
he could find no work but things are better since he joined the newly formed
Romany political party. Horvat left, Jarda arrived, we went across to the
pub and bridged the language gap with beer and smiles.