Thursday, May 08, 2008

Älgar i Österrike & adiós a un mexicano

my wonderful swedish friend lotta and her husband janne came to vienna for a few days on 27 april. we spent what was left of sunday evening together, because janne had to start sampling austrian beers and of course we had some chatting to do.

on monday we got a little sunburnt while having lunch at museumsquartier, and planned our day trip to mauthausen.

tourists in the rain:
lotta, janne, me, valerio

i had long wanted to go to mauthausen to see the former concentration camp where more than 200 000 people from all over europe were imprisoned and about half of them killed. lotta and janne were interested in seeing it, and valerio joined us for the day. janne was our driver, and i his co-driver - and i hardly ever got us lost. *g* the weather was quite horrible - rainy, windy and cold, and in a way that was appropriate.

i still cannot quite find the words to describe what it was like to be there, to walk into the cells, the gas chambers, the crematorium, to stand on the spot where countless people were shot in the neck. everybody went absolutely quiet in there, even the groups of students, and everybody seemed to want to be by themselves. i felt this pressure on my chest - and lotta described it the same way. as if breathing got somehow more difficult. as if it were a little more of an effort. a few months ago i could not have gone there, i would have panicked. even now, feeling so much better and with the medication, i felt a little claustrophobic.

yes, i cried. and i was not the only one. and in such a place, it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. but of course, even at the actual place where these unspeakable things happened, it still remains a bit unreal. it is impossible to imagine what it must have been like. and the whole thing is so massive, it is certain pictures, details that really hit home. there was one photo in particular that i cannot get out of my head: a dead prisoner hanging upside down in barbed wire, as if caught in a wobbly backflip.

the grey grey grey of the place, the barbed wire, the rusty locks, the dirty windows, wingless flies, trapped spiders - haunting.

gas chamber, mauthausen

wall, mauthausen

lock, crematorium, mauthausen

greyness: mauthausen in the rain

for more pictures, see my mauthausen album at flickr.

* * * * *

wednesday afternoon i took lotta and janne to my beloved central cemetery, where we strolled around in the old jewish section, had a look at the church and visited the graves of famous austrians. then i rushed to the supermarket and home to get everything ready for the party at my place.

and it was a great party, so thanks to lotta, janne, valerio, birgit, babs, andi, tom, ulli, ruth, bruno, ronnie, harold, daniela, tarkin, and hillary for coming along and making the night special and helping me get rid of the beer and wine and food. ;) it was lovely to see how my friends from so many different places (united states, italy, germany, mexico, peru, sweden), who had never met before, chatted away and laughed and danced.

who's the weirdest of them all?
valerio, ronnie, hillary

having fun, are we? lotta, valerio, me

beer addicts bruno, ruth, hillary

for more party pics, follow the link to my flickr party album.

* * * * *

on thursday, i met up with my two swedes after their tour around schönbrunn. we did quite a bit of walking, visited the sphinxes at the belvedere, then had a bottle of wine and pizza at my place, before it was time to say goodbye again, as lotta and janne left on friday, and i had to work. i hope they come back soon! :)

* * * * *

friday evening i went to the kafka, and valerio joined me for the second half of the open mic. i read three of my naughtier poems towards the end. then, one last late-night walk with valerio, and an adiós to el caballero for a lot longer than just a couple of days, as he left for mexico on saturday. i *do* miss the guy.

song of the day: spooky by dusty springfield.

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