Outside of Metz, the train stopped, waiting on another Engine. I was captivated by the other passengers, though the French was too fast to understand and the German incomprehensible. The train to Frankfurt would be delayed for hours. It gave me plenty of time to watch the social games without the benefit of understanding the particularities of the conversation.
Much like a game I used to play with a fiance a long ago, watching other diners in a restaurant from afar, I would make up the words of their conversation. Language barrier was more intricate, besides reading body language, a great deal can also be picked up from tone and inflection.
Still feeling emotionally turbulent, like the swaying of this swiftly moving train, I have found myself up and down and everything in between in only a few short days. As for London and Paris, I have only grazed the tip of the iceberg; both seem nicer and less dangerous than I thought.
As for going it alone, everything seems to have sharper edges. There is not that cushion of having someone to look over and smile at when things don’t go quite how they were expected. I must reason it out myself, but I have more exposure and the direction I choose to go in is wide open. The boy to my right, good looking but very young, 17 or so, is flirting madly with the two girls he just made some excuse to sit with, a young Casanova in the making. During our stall at Metz, I met Edith, the lady in front of me who has a daughter about my age, she said. She kindly helped me understand what was going on at the time. She speaks French, English and German. Her daughter is living in Morocco. She married a man there and is experiencing something like the plot of the book and movie “Not without my Daughter.”
Edith is on her way to Frankfurt now to visit her older married boyfriend, who lives there. The train is stopping again. We are probably 45 minutes outside of Frankfurt and the delay this time could be even longer.
Edith has told me- someone has died. She relayed the story to me in bits and pieces as she picked it up from other passengers. A large man, very overweight, has had a stroke. He died right there in the train, three cars ahead of us, and he was on his way to meet the woman he was going to get married to. They had met online and the lady had her two kids with her in Frankfurt, waiting at the station.
Eventually the train started moving again. German police, having removed the body, followed procedures and completed their paperwork. My concern that I have missed my connection sleeping car to Prague and that I will not get there at ten in the morning to meet Dana, from the language school seemed shallow in comparison to the death of a stranger. It all seemed too unreal.
My reality still demanded that I check emails to get the contact information, soon. My phone from the US died somewhere over the Atlantic and I had not, as yet, developed any sort of communication contingency plan. I relayed all of this to Edith and she said she would help me talk to someone when we got to the train station. As soon as we arrived, she grabbed my elbow and led me to some sort of desk. As she spoke to the Eurail representative for me at 3 am, I began to get the sensation that despite what seemed an unusual situation, it was all playing out as it was supposed to. They came to an agreement of some sort and Edith asked me what time I would like to leave in the morning.
“As early as possible,” I said. I would be leaving at 7 am and the train company would be putting me up in the hotel across the street. I thanked her profusely and we parted ways. Me, hoping the hotel was posh enough to provide internet service (and it was) and Edith, happy to have helped an other-wise stranded and frustrated traveler.
After a good three hours’ sleep at the hotel in Frankfurt, I had managed to get ready early enough to be treated to one of the world’s most wonderful specialties- a German breakfast. I was starving and made good use of my appetite as I raided the overstocked buffet of eggs and meats and fruit. I made my train on time and was on my way, further into the land of fairy tales, through woods that could easily be home to elves, gnomes and werewolves.