Jet lag is an interesting thing. You can try and lie to yourself all you want, you can try and alter your food schedule, force yourself awake, but the body knows something is wrong. Lying wide awake at 3am in the morning is disconcerting. And I mean *wide* awake. Like let’s go for a jog wide awake. Like, maybe I could put together that IKEA bookshelf wide awake.
If I were to tell you that beginning tomorrow your new work schedule was going to be 1am to 9am, that would take a little sorting out, wouldn’t it? Its tough trying to call it a night at 4pm, eh? Well, we’ve determined it takes at least 3 days before you stop looking at your watching and try and figure out are you in AM or PM.
So there Rachel and I are at 3am trying to tell ourselves it is actually 3am. Yep, lie-ing awake is more like it.
It doesn’t help that our temporary quarters here has no air conditioning either. Apparently when you walk into an apartment in Germany and you see a standing fan in the corner it means there is no AC. And if you walk into an apartment in Germany and there is *no* standing fan, it means there is no AC, …and no fan.
Yep, no air conditioned homes in Germany. I guess with weather hardly ever getting over 85 here accept for a month out of the year, AC is over rated. Well, we got here during an unseasonably warm end of summer apparently. Movie theater attendance was up several hundred % on base because people wanted an excuse to sit in AC for a few hours and do nothing. But is has made for some rough night sleep during our first week here.
Our temporary quarters are nice as you can see from the pictures (entrance & main area). House in Germany are not built like those in the states. Everything here is made with concrete, with giant carved out windows with thick black-out blinds call rolanods that descend like a garage door over the glass. Someone could be bowling above you at 3pm in the afternoon and you could be sound asleep in your vault-like domicile. The sturdy structure, metal blinds and heavy doors really give off the impression a panic room.
Our TV here only has 1 station in English, CNN. So now Rachel and I are *very* well informed. After our fourth argument over the latest Middle East brouhaha degenerated into exact Anderson Cooper sound bites, we decided we’d be better off watching MTV Germany. The highlight of that adventure was watching South Park in German. Oh I have no idea what they’re saying, but Cartman is funny in in any language.
But after only 2 days of German apartment life we were whisked away to Garmisch, Germany for our first conference. Garmisch is on the southern border of Germany, and is straight out of Sound of Music. Literally, Sound of Music was based on events here and filmed here.
Of all the Army resort lodges I have had the opportunity to stay at (Dragon Hill in Korea, Hale Koa in Hawaii, Shades of Green in Orlando, the Army Edelweiss Resort is by far the most scenic. The whole town is basically a screen saver, sans the flying toasters.
Set high in the Austrian Alps, the whole area is truly picturesque. If I threw the camera in the air, and it hit the ground, rolled downhill for 30 seconds and took 15 random photos. 14 of them you could put on the postcard untouched. The 15th would just be of me meagerly chasing after the camera screaming like a little Fraulien.
Photo ops aside, this conference was our first chance to meet our new co-workers. As Rachel and I were just 2 of several dozen new employees the Army European Region had brought on board in the last few months, they decided this get together in Garmisch would be a good chance to finally bring the whole team together in one place for everyone to meet. Which was a great idea, nothing like a little team drinking, er, I mean bonding to solidify solidarity across the European Region Medical Command (ERMC)
So, we spent most of the day huddled in conferences rooms going through presentations and vision statements and what not, and spent the evenings hanging out getting to know each other. I tell ya brining all the software trainers across the European footprints together for a week of conferences must have cost ERMC a pretty penny, but pay back for actually developing a spirit of team unity will return that invest threefold. We have trainers spread from Belgium to Italy, many in sites buy themselves. At the end of the day that feeling that you are not alone, can mean a lot for those staff members at remote sites. It’s a credit to ERMC that they see the value in creating bonds like the ones we forged this week, and yet another sign that Rachel and I made a good decision throwing ourselves in with this lot.
The team here is a strong one, and there are some real characters. One thing I will say, it takes a real strong personality to be a traveling trainer. Any job requiring you to venture out and about on your own full time is not for the faint of heart. Throw in requirements to try and train doctors while your at it, a demographic of folks who inherently aren’t use to being told what to do, and have the attention span of gnat, you’ve got a pretty tough days work. Going around the dinner tables sharing road stories, it was clear that there are real some fun carpe-diem (or is that carpe per-diem) folks here. I think we’ll fit in just fine.
On the last day of the conference a large group of us ventured out for a morning sunrise hike up to see Eibsee Lake. Getting up pre-dawn to go hiking up a mountain sounds bad I know, and well, it was. But through common misery there is always some camaraderie shared. Plus seeing this mountain side like at sunrise was truly stunning, even by Garmisch standards.
Due to the altitude here, where there is smoke there is …water.
Seeing the mist come off the surface, and the crystal clear reflections of the mountains in the glass like water was tremendously peaceful. Once we got there we didn’t even want to talk. To break that serene silence would have been wrong. A few laps around the lake and we began our descent back down to the Army lodge. There was a great key note speaker we had to make that morning at 8am, …me!
Yep, as kinda- welcome to the team Ron, I had been an afforded a chance to provide a presentation on an area I was a subject matter expert on at Northrop Grumman, voice dictation. Being asked to give a 90 minute presentation only 5 days after arriving in Germany would probably come across as harsh to most, but the material I was presenting I could deliver sleepwalking. For me this was 1% a chance to talk about Dragon Medical, and 99% a chance to showcase what I had to offer as a speaker, leader and instructor to my pears, and I think my bosses realized that. This was a room full of seasoned trainers after all. This was less of a presentation in my mind and more of a, well, …audition. The command had gone through a lot of fuss to get us over here, I’m sure many wondered if it was worth it.
Overall, I think the presentation went very well. Some wit here, some charm, some razzle-dazzle, …and then my part came. Ha ha, oh they love that joke at the Belagio (tip your waiter). But I do think it went well, and so far the team has welcomed Rachel and I in with open arms.
Our work completed, we got to do some real sight seeing with several of the trainers. In particular Rachel and I have clicked with a good friend of mind, Kevin, and his wife, Meghan. Our first trip was up to Germany highest’s mountain, commonly referred to as the Zugspits. The translation is Tip of the Track, implying that this summit is, without doubt, the end of the road., We were able to take a good twenty minute cable car ride up to the summit. Our ears popped multiples times. We were already pretty elevated being in the Alps. But this took us all the way up to 9,721, the highest point anywhere in Germany.
Climbing out of the cable car we scurried over to the platform railings to take in everything around us. You couldn’t help but feel like you were at the top of the world. And, wow, what a view.
A week in and already Germany has blown us away.
As it turns out, though, my biggest adventure in Garmisch was still to come. Sure I’ve bungeed jumped, swam with sharks, gone sky diving. But stay tuned next week as I try a sport that beats them all …Canyoning!
Whitewater rafting has nothing on this sport, …they get to use a raft.