Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Yucky Tricks

A weekend or so ago, The Captain's mom, The Captain, and I went down to a family vineyard in the Dolenjska region where she's from. From what she told me, we were going down to have lunch and say hello to family members; she talked a LOT before we left but that was all the information she really gave. Off the back of that information, The Captain and I got dressed up smartly, loaded up the car, and left.

...so you can imagine how perturbed I was when we pulled up to the vineyard, got out of the car, and were handed buckets, scissors, and gloves. CapMama turned to us and was like "You guys have a change of clothes, right?" Steam blew out of my head and -- despite the fact that this happens all the time* -- it took everything I had to keep quiet and go with the flow.

I walked up the steep hill into the vineyard with my brand new ankle boots on, angered about the state of my new shoes and frightened I'd fall down the hill.

After leaning against a fence post for 15 minutes watching everyone else work, I finally decided to jump in and help pick some grapes. It was nasty work, as this year's mix of weather coupled with the neighboring vineyards bout with mold (the neighbour, who probably inherited the damn vineyard, refuses to come out and pick grapes anymore and just leaves them to rot year after year) meant that most of the grapes were either dried like raisins or totally moldy.

Our job was to knock away all the sour grapes and pick out the few decent looking ones. Messy, stinky, yucky work.

I ended up taking my shoes and socks off so I could get a grip on the ground and not slide down the hill.

It ended up being the best decision; though I did have to contend with pesky people walking past me every few minutes with admonishments and "concern" that I would catch cold (catching cold seems to be the worst fate that can befall you in this country, geez.)

Anyway, after an hour or two of this cruel punishment, at least I got a good meal (pictures to come)....and, of course, this little blog post.

*Slovenians have a bad habit of not giving you necessary information unless you explicity ask for it. Problem being that you don't know what you don't know. Frustration!


alcessa said...

Well, it looks like you've passed the Slovenian "daughter-in-law-test" :-)) (picking grapes without complaint being important in Slovenia). Congratulations.

BTW, I didn't pass the most important part of my German "daughter-in-law-test". Having listened to a lively discussion (no keeping information secret here) about men and women in general and women being the salt of the earth, I honestly told my mother-in-law I preferred men, women being too difficult and stressful. :-) Well. (I tend to forget freedom of speech is not the only option available out there)

Camille Acey said...

believe me, i am "daughter-in-law tested" every single day...it's not a nice way to live, but for the moment i'm still breathing!

alcessa said...

:-) Yeah, it will take some time. Maybe developing 2 different personalities isn't a bad idea, on the whole. One (the real one) for the husband, one (the local one) for the show.

I have avoided a large part of it because there are a few hundred kilometres between us, but those tests I did take, I mostly failed at. I did manage to convince everybody I was self-sufficient and not hunting for a source of livelihood, like your average East.European would, but it turned out I was too self-sufficient, ambitious and pragmatic, so there you go.

Wish you much luck and endurance!

Eva said...

Oh, god. The "trgatev". Of course they don't tell you, no one would want to do it if they knew what they were getting themselves into! You have my sincere sympathies, and hopefully you'll be able to avoid it in future.

Thankfully, I only had that done to me once, by my relatives. And afterwards, we didn't even get a meal, just some ancient bread and stale klobasa. On all subsequent years, I simply dug my heels in and refused to attend.

It's one of those ridiculous rituals that make me really really mad. I refuse to play head games in order to prove that I really actually do deserve to hang around someone's darling offspring. And yes, that would include the interrogation alcessa mentioned.

Though I admit I have, on several occasions, bitten my tongue and haven't participated in conversations when I really disagreed with the drift.

Camille Acey said...

@Eva - I knew there would be trgatev, but I thought we were just going to pass by for malica and then go home. I will certainly avoid it in the future. Anytime from now on that my mother-in-law says we should go somewhere I am going to develop a "mystery illness" and hide under the covers. That said, I don't think my mother-in-law was doing it in the name of any tests regarding my worthiness to be with her son, she just doesn't know how to drive and if she had told us the truth, she would have had to take it packing on the train!

Anonymous said...

LOL - if it's autumn and you are invited to Dolenjska it's NOT a social visit - it's WORK. I have relatives there (on my mother's side) and my poor father learned to pack his working clothes AND tools whenever they visit them. After all, there is always some type of work to be done...not just "trgatev".

Camille Acey said...

@Anon - Thanks for the tip! Honestly, I think I am just going to keep a pair of boots and jeans in the car at all times. I keep getting burned and I never learn!

BlackGirl said...

Are you at least going to get a bottle out of this adventure later? Ha!

Camille Acey said...

bottles are a-flowing. the problem is that the Captain and I don't really drink! but whenever i finally come up to see you i'll be sure to bring you some of Slovenia's finest!:)

paul t said...

*Slovenians have a bad habit of not giving you necessary information unless you explicity ask for it. Problem being that you don't know what you don't know. Frustration!

Oh Camille - bless you for this footnote!!!

I just read it out to my wife, who said ah and smiled. Which is one of those things you have to take as an apology or admission of er.. something ;)

I really think that until now she more or less thought this point was just some odd personal quirk of mine that no one else in the world would share.

I have asked questions like: did you communicate with anyone today who may have had information of use to me? ... and found out some important things as well!

Oh man.

Hope Ghana was great. I'm always struck by the differences between my Ghanian and Nigerian friends - one Nigerian said "we're the Italians, they're the English or something" ...

Camille Acey said...

hiya paul! glad your experience mirrors mine!

ghana was GREAT! as for the difference between nigerians and ghanaians, where to start? maybe i'd say ghana is to nigerians what croatian is to serbian. croatians are wild to be sure but serbia is bigger and seems to have that extra helping of wily balkanness. that said the people generally get along. though ghanaians tend to blame most of the flashier and more serious crimes on the influx of nigerians, sierra leoneans, and liberians. not only because those groups have generally seen more of that kind of violence but also because ghanaians just simply lack the cunning or skill for anything more than the occassional pickpocketing.

Anonymous said...

LOL, start asking questions and carry an old pair of jeans and shirt. Remember one day you will tell these stories to your children and grandchildren.