It’s a brand spanking new year and a chance to redeem ourselves once more. I am starting 2011 feeling like a bear coming out of hibernation- cranky, hungry and not quite ready to wake up.

Christmas day, dorm parents Una and Randy kindly invited me for supper along with the young  “year of service” dorm assistants. Una cooked a wonderful meal, including jerk turkey which was very hot. The next day I took off early for Baha’i Winter School in Slovakia, with the plan being to meet Greg , a Baha’I friend living in Budejovice, travel together to Brno and meet Zuzana who would take us the rest of the way. Everything worked out just fine and I enjoyed getting to know my Baha’I friends better.

In Soporna, Zuzana’s friend Rasto picked us up in his car at the station and drove us to the hotel where we were to stay and where Winter School took place. It was modern and attractive, and thankfully it turned out I would not have a roommate.  I think that was by the grace of Baha’u’llah, who knows how much I need my solitude. I had a narrow bed and private shower, and a small TV on the wall to watch Slovak television, which in some ways reminded me of early “Cancon” shows, without the glitz and sophistication we are used to today.

There were two amazing speakers at Winter School, Joseph Sheppherd, an American writer living in Trnava and NasanRafat, a German stem cell researcher. They filled our mornings with talks on Abdu’l’-Baha and the Universal House of Justice. The afternoons were spent doing crafts and various people signing up to give their own talks. There was also time for walking, and one day Greg’s roommate David took us for a walk to the reservoir which is either the first or second largest in Slovakia.

Travel home was a bit gruelling and by the time we reached Budejovice it was 8:30 pm. I stayed the night in Greg’s spare room. The next day we had a little walk in town to a café where I had hot chocolate for the first time. It was black and rich, almost like liquid dark chocolate, with whipped topping on top. They were closing soon, so we didn’t get a chance to look at books, and instead went through the town square to an Indian restaurant Greg likes for a delicious lunch of chicken dahl and rice.

We celebrated Baha’i feast together, with prayers, readings from Scripture and refreshments, and then I need a nap. By the time I woke up, I had missed the bus I wanted to take and had to get another one, which was fine, but it meant I didn’t want to cross the fields in the dark so instead I got off at U Pulcu and had to walk up the hill from Spar which, with all my bags, was difficult! As I was getting home, exhausted, Randy and teacher Elinor were taking off in his car, likely to buy snacks, because as Randy told me, feast would be celebrated that evening at 7! I had a quick supper and shower and had my second feast of the month, and of the day, on New Year’s Eve!

There were apparently fireworks that night that could be seen from the prayer rooms but I was sound asleep by midnight… and woke the next day aching and exhausted. I have not yet got all my energy and good nature back … hopefully that will come.   Wishing all of you a sparkling new year in which to work toward your goals and enjoy your achievements, be they physical, mental or spiritual.