Posted 1/12/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
The holiday season is a big time for travel, as people crisscross the country to see loved ones.
But Tioga resident Dave Tengesdal went all the way to the Czech Republic to see his family.
Tengesdal’s son, Mark, did missionary work in Germany. While there, he met his future wife, Anna.
As a citizen of the Czech Republic, Anna had access to cheaper maternity healthcare, so they’ve been living over there during her pregnancy.
Just recently, Anna gave birth to Dave’s first grandson, and so a trip out to see the child was in order.
“He was just a little fella,” Tengesdal said.
Tengesdal and his wife, Carole, departed on Dec. 21.
It wasn’t Dave’s first trip. He went out last summer for the wedding.
“That was wonderful,” Tengesdal recalled.
The wedding was held outside in a park under perfect weather.
Tengesdal said most things about the wedding were like that of any wedding in America, except the music and dancing were quite different. They also had a second minister during the service to provide translations for Dave and other English-speaking guests.
“Otherwise, we’d have been lost,” Tengesdal said.
During his holiday trip, he did quite a bit of sightseeing in Prague, where the differences between the Czech Republic and America became more apparent.
“My son was kind of a tour guide for me,” he said.
He said his son does this kind of work freelance for tourists.
Tengesdal said that while they have television, it’s not a particularly important pastime. People tend more to engage in social activities.
Unlike here in Tioga where rows of large pickup trucks are common sights along any downtown street, the cars in Prague are much, much smaller. This is helpful in navigating the narrow roads they have over there.
The parking is just as scarce, and Tengesdal said parallel-parked cars are very close together.
“It’s like bumper to bumper there. How they get out, I don’t know,” he said.
Fortunately, a lot of people take public transportation, which is widely available.
He said everything tends to be smaller over there, not just the cars.
He didn’t find any of the large retailers common in the US. Instead, there are a lot of little shops.
“Everybody has a living, something to do,” he said.
He did get the chance to visit one larger grocery store, at least large by Czech standards. It was split on two levels, and had an escalator with tracks to carry grocery carts up.
“I thought that was pretty cool,” he said.
The people are smaller too. Perhaps it’s their diet or the fact they do a lot more walking, but they tend to be much slimmer than your average American.
Not in Kansas
There were other little differences. The toilets, for example, don’t have handles to flush. Instead, they have a button on the top.
Also, the bathrooms in homes divide the toilet and bathroom sinks into separate rooms.
Of course, the language was entirely different. For the entire time he was there, speaking nothing other than English, Tengesdal was dependent on his son to get around.
“If I was dropped on a street corner and had to find my way home, I’d still be there.”
He said life there had a certain simplicity about it, which was attractive, but he was happy to be home.
“It was a great trip. I needed it. My wife needed it. It’s nice to get away, but it’s also nice to be back,” he said.