Tuesday, July 26, 2011


We leave Vienna at 3 in the morning. I find it perfectly normal to stay awake until our Hungarian friend Szabi calls to say they have arrived to the Center. Ever since this trip has started any sense of "normality" has disappeared from my routine, and, basically, from my life. I wake up at the time I need to and go to bed very late at night, rarely before one, and this is perfectly "normal" now.

As we drive away from Vienna, I once again experience the same absurd sensation that has been with me since I left Prague... I miss Prague. I miss it like one misses a lover. I miss it and the feeling of moving even further away from it is almost painful.

I sleep all through the very long drive to Hamburg, waking up occasionally to go to the loo, or to eat something, until finally we have arrived at the Center. This is the second largest Diamond-Way center in the world. The Gompa is enormous and beautifully decorated. The altar carries statues for all the sixteen Karmapas and there is special altar for Mahakala. I am surprised that it is in pragmatic Germany that I find the most ornated altar carrying the largest offerings.

Hamburg is really a beautiful city and as we leave it the following morning, I really wish we wouldn't... yet. But the Lolland Summer Course starts really soon  (dates are complicated to keep track of while moving around like this, I actually need to make a big effort to remember what day it is today).

I loved Hamburg's architecture combination, the creative artsy feeling that pervades it. Especially in the Center's neighborhood. Our Diamon Way center is located in the Saint Pauli area, a bohemian quartier filled with little bars, and vintage designer clothes stores. Carina's Peruvian friend Nati informs us that the area is home to the punk community, although that is plain to see if you look around and check the fashion and the hairstyle (haven't seen so many Iroquois and creative hair colors in a long long time).

On one of the main streets around the center there is a "taken" house, I understand this means a squatter house. From the outside it is filled with graffittis, posters, and odd decorations. In the park nearby there is more urban art on a huge escalating wall.

We get a tour of the center, and visit the office where all the material is printed and sent to Europe and even to the US. There are 40 residents and a cafĂ©, where a huge meeting is taking place. They are planning the New Year party. We go for dinner to a Thai restaurant  and later for a beer. The joke is on us when we realize we have been drinking Portuguse beer in Germany!!! Hahahaha! The bar is actually Portuguese!!!

The morning after, before leaving town, we stop at Dori's house, a Hungarian girl who lives in Hambugr for a cup of coffee. I am a bit annoyed at waking up so early when the hungarians are obviously in the mood for socializing a bit before leaving. And I discover Dori. She is a slender, blond, beautiful woman, who warmly opens up her lovely, albeit small, appartment to our little troup (there is 9 of us in the van), and she actively starts working up a strange machine that makes me thing of a Tim Burton invention. Shortly after, our coffees are served. And my annoyance disappears quickly into gratefulness and amazement. This is undoubtedly the BEST capucchino to ever have made his way to my lips!!!! This is it!!!!

We then board our van and take our leave from Hamburg. As we drive past lovely little shops and fashion boutiques, I remember of Pasha's words in Prague, as Carina and I were getting dressed to go out one evening "Of course you realize you are doing all this for yourselves, right? We don't care how you dress or what make up you're wearing, all we see are eyes, smile, and admittedly a couple more things." Yes, we dress for ourselves. And it pleases us that way. And with a last thought for that beautiful dress in the window, I think of my friend Grace.

And we drive away through the city, park, train station, residential area, canals, trees everywhere, everything mixes pleasantly and if not for a gas station, I could think of an urban modern work of art. But no city I know has yet been capable of incorporating gas stations in an artistic way.

I remember my Czech friend Karel, who is an architect and said when he look through my photos "You really like architecture, don't you?" I hadn't realized it, but yes, I do. I have a lyrical and visual heart that I'm getting to know better in this trip.

Suddenly Bundesautobahn. No more Hamburg. Time to turn on my Ipod and sleep. The Hungarians are back to speaking Hungarian anyways :)

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