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September 16, 2006


The Moravice River is in north Moravia. One weekend each fall they release
water from behind a dam there--an event which triggers a pilgrimage by river
riders from all over the Czech Republic. My neighbor Jarda invited us to go but
Sarah was in Croatia with Nicole so it was more or less a boys' trip. When his
friends found out it was my birthday I was treated to strenuous Moravian
hospitality. Starting about 3 pm, bottles were pressed into my hand with
alarming speed and diversity--white wine, red wine, beer, homemade slivovice
(apple and plum versions of clear Czech moonshine), and whisky. Take a fake
little sip and the bottle is put back in your hand; they want to
see the level DROP. So, I was pretty much done by 6.
But a little nap in the tent and I rallied by 9, just in time
to join everyone in the campground pub (there are
pubs everywhere, especially where people go to
recreate). There, two guitarists took turns playing
traditional songs and everyone sang and danced along.
I felt surprisingly OK the next day and braced myself first thing
with a dip in the river while we waited for them to open the
floodgates. When they did, the levels rose and rapids appeared.
The river wound through a steep forested valley with
only occasional humble summer cottages on banks
of the greenest grass I've ever seen. It looked kind of
like the Pacific Northwest, but even less developed.