Of all the AirBnB arrangements I have on this trip, the one in po-dunk Bavaria was the one I was most excited about. The difference between AirBnB and Couchsurfing, other than the fact that one of them is free and the other gives you a real bed, is that Couchsurfing is intended as a social network; with AirBnB, on the other hand, it’s pretty common to hardly see or talk to your host at all. That wasn’t the case with these guys. Christine replied to my request, saying that they were “tremendously excited” about my visit, and she proceeded to check in periodically leading up to my arrival to be sure everything was good and I had the information I needed.

After a slight mix-up at the train station (there were two people named Christine with 18-month-olds there, and I picked the wrong one to approach first), the correct Christine (which is pronounced “Christina,” by the way) took me back to Eberfing, a village of about 1,000 people in, as she puts it, “deepest Bayern.” Back at the ranch (only a slight misnomer), I met her husband Matthias and their son, Simon. Christine and Matthias have traveled all over—California, Arizona, New York, Colombia (all over, Alexandra, including Cali), Bolivia, and more, so we had lots to talk about. Simon mostly likes tractors and squealing.

After obtaining permission to use the kitchen, I asked Christine where one bought groceries in Eberfing. She replied that between Saturday evening and Monday morning, you don’t. The family was kind enough to let me join them for (vegan and delicious) meals. In a wildly unexpected turn of events, Simon turned out to be the first kid to like me uncoerced, so I spent Saturday evening spinning cogs and making vroom noises with trucks. He also refused to go to bed until I “gib Kussi” (give a kiss). It turned out to be a ruse–he

I don’t know when people decided that this was a good thing to put their children in at bedtime, but I’m glad they did. It’s 50% pillowcase, 50% jumper, 100% hilarious–especially when the kid can’t sleep and comes flumpflumpflumping into the kitchen in it like an animal from Winnie the Pooh’s nightmares. Note: that is not Simon. I do not post strangers’ children on the internet unless someone else has done it first. Also, none of the pictures here (as of 15.09.14) are mine, as my camera cord is in Berlin).

Sunday morning was marked by two remarkable events: first, American banana-blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup (just a coincidence that I was there on pancake day), and a beautiful, if muddy, walk in the forest. Originally we’d talked about going walking together, but since Simon changes his mind like a girl changes clothes (and subsequently squeals a lot), I wound up going alone most of the way. It was pretty great, and I didn’t even get lost very much!

[pictures to follow.]

Over lunch, Christine and Matthias made a proposition: there was some sort of festival going on in the village, and although they would never go ordinarily, they’d be willing to take me if I wanted to see a traditional Bavarian get-together. Overwhelmed by their obvious enthusiasm for this sort of thing, I replied, Of course! So once Simon got up from his nap we strapped him into the stroller and set off.

The festival consisted of the village oom-pah band (the Eberfinger Musikkapelle) and their lady conductor (!!!), plus three smaller oom-pah groups (including a trio that I’m told is the Spitz (consummate) among Bavarian folk ensembles. There was beer and cake and coffee and so very many pairs of Lederhosen, worn completely un-self-consciously by males from age 5 to 70. People in this village also seem to have a particular fondness for garter-stitch sweaters.

People wear traditional clothing (called “Tracht”) without a trace of irony. Still not convinced that it’s not an act to get tourists’ money in Munich.

Matthias’ cousin came over and introduced himself in English (on the way home, Christine and Matthias joked that he had probably maxed out his English skills with the phrase “Hello, my name is Jakob”). After being informed that I spoke fluent German, he dropped English like a hot potato. We talked about fracking and clear-cutting (Germans, you know…), and then he went back to play with the band, and I joined a conversation with some elderly townspeople, during which I understood about every 10th word.

On the way home, Christine and Matthias expressed their shock that I’d enjoyed the event (then why did we go?), and shortly thereafter set off for their anniversary dinner (yes, they had me come on their first anniversary—but since the legal wedding and the church wedding don’t necessarily happen together, they assured me that they’d celebrated the former fully and didn’t really feel the need to go all-out for the latter). I went to the restaurant, the “Gaststub’n” at the town’s only restaurant, Gasthof zur Post, and had some potato dumplings that are probably good if you like potato dumplings (which I don’t, but I was informed that it was “echt Bayrisch” and I had to try them), and a salad that was good regardless. I also didn’t screw up quite as many things as usual.

[stay tuned for a pretty amazing sunset]