Day 10 - Berlin or what was open
I have no memories of that night. Did I dream all that had been a nightmare and I would wake up to go to our waking tour? No, as soon as I put on my glasses, there they were: the two crutches. We got dressed and went downstairs, very slowly and then had some breakfast. It was funny because I served as a waiter. I checked what there was and Carol would tell me what she wanted. If she wanted more, I would go to the food counter to get more. And of course we made some jokes out of that. She would call me James.
One parenthesis: a guy went by me and wished me Happy Christmas. I thought it was strange for him to talk like that, I was expecting Merry Christmas, but I had no idea where he was from. Nothing of importance happened then, but this character will come back later.
Anyway, after breakfast we decided we would split. Carol would stay in the hostel and see how she would live there for a day, maybe going around, and I would go downtown for some sightseeing. I was totally upset because I was going alone and I thought at least the attractions in the museums would distract me from that acid train of thoughts. The first place I felt like visiting was the Museum of Natural History. Carol wanted to see the traditional dinosaur bones and the animals. She was supposed to take a bunch of pictures to show to their pupils. So, there I was in the street of the invalids and after walking some blocks, I arrive at the museum and - happy holidays - it is closed. I thought museums would close only on Mondays, not on holidays. I should have checked before leaving which museums would be open then.
But the one near the hostel, I guess it was open.
Nonetheless, it was those not so near that I really wanted to visit. After one failed journey to the closed museum, I decided to go to a part of the city near Nollendorfplatz. There was a museum there called Schwules Museum. It was a museum about the homossexual history and it was located quite near an important street, called Bulöwstraße. According to the research it was a street full of rainbow stores and pubs. It was the scene. And it was all closed. The museum and the street was completely empty.
The only action I could see was in this poster hanging in one window of one of the closed stores. I then gave up and started wandering about the neighborhood and ended up entering a red-brick church and stayed there for a while in order to warm up a little bit. Even the church was a bit empty and walking alone some empty streets could do nothing but increase my feeling of loneliness and abandonment. Instead of getting distracted, I was reminded at every second how much I was missing my wounded friend. And I started to wonder what else had kept in store for us just yet. So, after getting of walking around a deserted city, between one and two pm I decided to head for the hostel and maybe visit the museums we had nearby. When I arrived at the station of Potsdamer Platz I realized the movement of people on the streets had increased. So, now they decided to show their face, when the daylight was almost being no more? Whatever they were doing, I was naturally not in the best of my moods.
Back to the hostel, I decided to wash some of our clothes. They had the washing and drying machines, one just had to purchase a special token. Then there were the instructions on the wall, in German and in English. I got both our clothes, Carol’s and mine and set off to the laundry place. Just to enlighten the reader, here in Brazil, it is no common to have laundrymats, even more rare those you do everything with coins. normally you use your own machine at home or take to a place and the employees there make everything. So it came as no surprise that I only managed to turn on the machine secure of what I was doing almost half an hour later. And I still programmed the drying machine incorrectly, but it was not so serious.The worst was how to turn the machines on.
Because it was Christmas, there would be no dinner in the hostel. It is not common to have that, hostels offer only breakfast, but this one was different. My friend who had been there before had recommended the dinner, it was practical and considering her opinion and the quality of the breakfast, it was very good. But again they wouldn’t have it because of the holiday, so we had to buy some food. I asked Carol what she wanted and she said she didn’t want to decide on anything. I told her what restaurants I had seen around and we decided to go to The Subway store to get some sandwiches. She told me what I shouldn’t let them put in hers and there I went. To add up to my “happiness” the attendant mistook me and put some mayonnese in the sandwich which would go to Carol. All the rest was the ingredients she had asked me. OK, I will keep this one for myself and never mind what I wanted to ask.
As I came back we started eating in the room and she told me what her day had been like. Upstairs, pain, downstairs, internet for hours and boredom. So, we started talking: what should we do? I could see no much choice. In two days we would be leaving with those 20-kilo suitcases and I wouldn’t be able to carry both, our hand luggage (mine was a backpack with not less than 7 or 8 kilos). All that snow on the sidewalks. The odds of another fall were high. “maybe, we’d better go back home”. It sounded as a joke, as a lie, but I meant it. “No, I have already blown my trip up, you are staying”, she said. “What’s the use staying if you are not here. I was supposed to follow you in your trip, it was never meant to be mine alone.” But she was right. What a difficult conversation! We went downstairs so that she could use the payphone to call her parents, and we would look for a ticket for São Paulo. If she wanted to antecipate her flight with our tickets, she would have to go to Paris, then to our connection in Istambul and then São Paulo. Alone? Not very smart. So we found one flight from Berlin to São Paulo via Frankfurt.
One funny thing had happened that day; we had established some days before, I guess as soon as we left Belgium that we were supposed to meet one person a day, a new friend. The rule was we had to talk to the person for more than 10 minutes and we should know the person’s name, otherwise asking for information would count as making friends. As we were going upstairs in the hostel, the process would take Carol some minutes, a guy was coming down, as we were talking in Portuguese and she was concentrated in hopping to the next step, the guy stopped and waited and she said in Portuguese he could go first. I told her, hey, you are talking in Portuguese and he answered in Portuguese, no problem, I understand. He was from a city in the countryside of São Paulo - Piracicaba - and we talked for a while. He was the friend of that day.
So, the night crept in and I was still looking forward to something positive happening. Carol insisted I should go out, but what’s the fun of going to a bar or club alone in a strange city? But she was right, we had not been to any club in Belgium, and soon Berlin would be over. Then I changed and headed for two bars I had checked on the net. As I was going, I was looking around, not so overtly as to display my foreignness, but curious to see how the night light changed façades, sidewalks. Everything seems to be so different at night, even the atmosphere. So, walking like there was no tomorrow, I saw a guy coming by. Something about the way he was dressed called my attention and I stared. I wanted to see what it was. But mommy has always told not to stare, hadn’t I seen the short movie in Paris je t’aime? The guy stopped and started yelling at me... I had no German guide as in the movie, but I am sure he was yelling something of that sort - what are you looking at?. In German it sounded more frightening. So I kept going and praying he wouldn’t stab me in the back. I arrived at the first bar and I saw from the outside there were about 3 people in, counting the bartender. So I guessed it was just too intimate for me to handle. Imagine if I enter and they all stare at me and stop talking? I would die then and there, stroke caused by excessive embarrassment. So, the other one - Blond - seemed to be THE place. As I got there, I checked there were more than 5 people though the place was small as well. I sat by the counter, it had been ages I hadn’t been to a bar alone, even at home.
I didn’t know what to do or what to say, so, I asked for a beer and started taking off the heavy clothes. I was sweating. A lot of people were talking and some were drinking. I guess I would be approached but nobody did. Not even a smile. Most of them were alone, just drinking and enjoying the music. The two people who talked to me and made some jokes were the two waiters. One of them asked me if I was feeling alright. My face should be like those who have just seen a ghost. So I started relaxing and asked for some more beer and a mojito. I stayed there, enjoying the music and observing people as much as I could without being observed and before leaving I asked the waiter who had been so nice to me if he accepted to take a picture with me. We hadn’t talked to each other as long as ten minutes, and I didn’t ask for his name, but I felt a nice vibe.
And the way back to the hostel was like going home by Rua Augusta (a traditional street in São Paulo for “buying love”) as a lot of girls - at least they looked so - were asking me if i didn’t want to meet them.