The Call of the Wild(ish)

Me and my old enemy: Sněžka (in background, not the guys)

Me and my old enemy: Sněžka

I am reading a western by Larry McMurtry and have found what I always find – westerns make me itchy. Oh, not itchy in the venereal disease kind of way, but itchy to take an adventure.

In this book, The Wandering Hill, a random group of trappers and explorers travel in the American West in the 1830s. The story is lousy with adventure. There are battles with lances, bows, and hatchets. There are people getting eaten by bears, bitten by snakes, and kicked by horses. There are lots of merciless clashes between tribes of Native Americans.

It’s great.

And as I enjoy this book from the safety of my couch, house, and routine, it awakens the dormant adventurer in me. That part that just wants to put on a backpack and walk to India or hike to Iceland. I look out my window at the trees and the river and imagine a far more interesting life for myself.

Enter serendipity.

Friday afternoon I get a call from an old boss. He needs a teacher in an urgent way at an English course far up in the Krkonoše Mountains. I laugh as he tells me about it, wonder who has been reading my mind. I do a thankful jig in my office as I get the details.

And then I say yes.

OK, teaching at a grammar camp in the Northern Czech Mountains is not quite the same as beaver trapping in the American west in the 1830s. This I know. But it is a small adventure and the kind I am looking for at the moment. My modus operandi has always been to get into a nice, safe routine and then stay there. This week was going to be spent scratching my cat’s belly, drinking at the local, writing, and watching Morse.

A weeklong course in the mountains will disrupt that quite nicely.

Also, a week in the mountains offers many other advantages. The course takes place at Moravska Bouda, a small chalet high above anything closely resembling a town. The air is cleaner there, there are no cars, trams, or city centers. One can hear himself think. There are very few people. The chalet has a pub and restaurant that has been serving the same staples of Czech cuisine for thirty years. I will sit in this pub and drink Becherovka with Papa Honza (Post: Papa Yoda, July 5, 2012) and brush up on my catalog of Czech jokes.

The course will also be fun and will be a good reminder of what it’s like teaching normal people. Normal people being those who aren’t university students. There is no syllabus to follow and no test at the end of a stressful semester. We will play games, talk books, and take long hikes to the source of the Elba River, into Poland, and to the highest peak in the Czech Republic and my old enemy: Sněžka.

So my itchiness will wear off over the next couple days as the chalet gets eaten by cloudy mists and thunderstorms bang the walls off the place. And if I step outside at night and there are no clouds, I can look up at a gazillion stars and pretend I am a beaver trapper in the old west.

What’s your next adventure, my friends?

Comments are closed.