Progress, or, not opposing the chemical

IMG_1986I went back for more rowing on the Wannsee yesterday, and the experience was a bit different because I changed my approach in several ways.

(1) I planned a new route on the U-bahn and S-bahn, knowing that a key station is closed on the weekends. It still took 3 trains and a long walk, but it was predictable and took under an hour to get to the club. So that was an improvement.

(2) I ate a big breakfast before I set off for the lake. Some of you know this is not my way; I prefer to row on an empty stomach in the morning. Not here, though.

(3) I took Dramamine before I rowed. Yes, I did. On Thursday I got up the nerve to walk into an Apotheke and “talk” to a pharmacist, as this is the only way you can acquire medication in this town, even things that are over-the-counter in the US. It went something like, “I have seasickness. No, not right now, but when I row…?” and then I made rowing motions with my arms, “Yes? and the waves are high?” and again my arms were waving, and she said “Ah! I see!” and she disappeared and returned with some ginger pills and seabands. And as she was ringing me up, she said, “You are opposed to the chemical?” and my eyes got big and I said slowly, “I am NOT opposed to the chemical!” and that’s how I got the pretty pink pills she sold me. I can’t read a word of the packaging, and upon closer inspection they look more like birth control pills, but seeing as how I got neither seasick nor pregnant on my row, I’d call it a success.

I arrived early enough to witness more of the awkward standing-around phase, or actually with them it’s more sitting on benches and looking out at the sailboats on the lake. Dietmar, who makes boat assignments but isn’t a coach, assigned me to a “four-double-four” which, after he repeated it a few times, I realized was a quad, this time a racing quad, rather than a “gig” (thanks, Philip, for a word for the wooden boats). We used blades like MRC (cleaver or hatchets) and it felt good to have familiar blades and be in a racing shell.

This time there was no cox (though every other quad we saw on the water had one, and one quad had two coxswains, or one in the stern and a freeloader in the bow; and another had about 5 rucksacks of camping gear in addition to the rowers), and we headed south towards a narrow part that became a river in a channel, rather than north into the heart of all the boat traffic. And this was a much more familiar and pleasant experience, because I think I am a river rower at heart. Again I saw new boats, such as a 6x with cox, which means at this point I guess I’ve seen every combination from a single person to eight people, since some of us saw a 7+ at the NWIRA regatta.

Several tourist cruise boats went by and so we had some people staring at us (that happens a lot in Germany no matter what you’re doing), pointing, looking with binoculars and taking pictures, which was odd to think that I, a relative tourist, would end up in other tourists’ photos of quintessential life on the Wannsee. And at some point a sheriff’s boat went by and waked us, and I could picture Jabo yelling, “Boy Scouts, cut your wash!” and was amused to think of him saying such a thing to the German Polizei.

After the row I enjoyed kaffee und kuchen out by the lake with my four-double-four mates, and they humored me and spoke English and I learned a lot about the club, the winter season (they row through the long, dreary winter, in addition to Dori-style boot camp), and a bit about them. They told me that there is only one day a year that the Spree River is open to row through the heart of Berlin, and there is a big regatta when we could row it, but it’s on October 5, which unfortunately is when I will be in Paris with my family, which are words I never thought I’d put together in my life (“unfortunately we’ll be in Paris that day”)… But on the other hand, I have already lined up a row on the Seine for October 6 with a French club, so things are looking pretty good after all.

So that’s all from here. Our girls are adjusting, with fewer tears every day, and M is playing a lot of piano, which is a good sign, and I finally made a trip to the grocery store without getting turned around and having to retrace my steps, so I am beginning to understand how these streets are laid out, which is a minor miracle.

Thanks for reading, and stay in touch!

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