Archive for March, 2011

Saint-Augustine is God preferred
March 28, 2011

Jacksonville holds the record for being the biggest geographical city in the United States. In the land of sprawl, Jacksonville is the sprawliest. The city seems to be made up of satellite suburbs connected by highways, strip malls and tacky man-made ponds. So its no surprise that Max and I escaped last Saturday to see what else Florida had to offer. We ended up in Saint-Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the USA (that’s a fancy way of saying the white folks were there before they got around to colonising the rest of America). Saint-Augustine boasts many historical attractions, including a Spanish fort and some museum called “the oldest house,” though what it’s the oldest of isn’t clear.

Driving right past all that stuff we made our way to Saint-Augustine’s Alligator Farm, which, despite its name, is really just a conservation area. There we saw a pit with over 25 adult alligators, and a trainer go in and fearlessly feed them dead mice. At the same time, the trainer told us all kinds of fun facts about Northeast Florida. For example, did you know that only four of Florida’s six venomous snakes live in the Jacksonville area?

 

The zoo was packed on a sunny Saturday, including a large group of Evangelical Christians with matching shirts. These women, about 10 of them, all had shirts that read: “Saved women of intergrity [sic]. Socially active, Christ centered, God preferred.” Despite not knowing what “intergrity” is, I’m also confused as to what it means to be God preferred. Luckily, I had a lot of experience with evangelical Christians in Guatemala (where they are rapidly taking over the country’s Mayan souls). There too people seemed to enjoy wearing matching shirts. On the flight from Atlanta to Guatemala City there were at least 3 distinct groups of matchy-shirt Christians. Is there an important wardrobe commandment that I had missed? Or is that there way of telling the rest of us that God does not prefer us?

Why a Schmetterling?
March 24, 2011

Better yet, why a blog? A few of you have suggested I keep a blog to document my exploits in Germany/Poland/France/USA/wherever I happen to be. Putting together an email to my friends and family today, I realised I had way too much to say than I could possibly write in a single email.

I hereby faithfully promise to keep this blog updated weekly (unlike this blog about Canada that was abandoned shortly after birth: http://canstud.wordpress.com/)

Schmetterling (rightly, der Schmetterling) is German for butterfly. I would like to say that I chose it because it’s the most ridiculous of German words, but any one who has ever studied German knows there are far worse (Sehenswurdigkeit, fahrt, Keuschheitsgürtel, and Fahrrad fahren come to mind). Indeed, Sehenswurdigkeit, meaning a sight, might have also been an appropriate name for this blog.

What I love about the word butterfly is that it’s different in every language, even in latin languages that often closely resemble each other: papillon (fr), mariposa (sp) and farfalla (ital) have little to do with each other. Each culture and language is unique in how they think about butterflies. For example, the French have created a verb out of papillon. Papilloner (passer d’une chose ou d’une personne à une autre, sans s’attarder sur aucune), translates into flitting around in English, moving on from one thing to another, without paying much attention to any of it. In other words, papilloner is an excellent metaphor for my life right now.

I’ve just arrived in Jacksonville Florida from Berlin and promise to write more about the craziness of Americaland soon. Pictures too!

Until then,

Der Schmetterling sieht die Sehenswurdigkeiten.