04 January 2009


When DM first came to central Europe the exchange rate was 54 koruna to a U.S. dollar. Lately the rate hovered around 20/$1, and on January 1st the Slovak Republic officially adopted the Euro as their currency.

During our travels over the past 6 weeks we have commented many times on the convenience of using the same currency in France and Spain, especially because we went from France to Spain to France during the three weeks we were away from Bratislava. And, now we have the same convenience here in Slovakia and close-by Vienna.

When DM, LG, and I go to the pharmacy [for more meds for MP and CA who both have severe respiratory illnesses] and to Tesco [for groceries and treats] we use Euros. While you still have to do the mental math [@$1.25 to 1 Euro] it feels far easier. You just think U.S. dollars and then add 25%. Tesco has supervisors assisting the checkout clerks as they become accustomed to making change in the new currency. While Slovakia has officially been accepting dual currencies for awhile, the clerks would only accept paper Euros and the 1€ and 2€ coins [no Euro cents] and always gave back change in Slovak crowns.

LG and KF won't remember Slovak koruna [SKK] which has been the official currency of the free Slovak Republic from February 8, 1993 to December 31, 2008. They won't remember a Slovakia not part of the European Union--it happened in 2004 before they were born. Their mommy will tell them stories of life during communism and it will be just words and not reality. MP was 11 years old when communism fell in 1989. She has vivid memories of the celebrations and the optimism engendered by the fast-changing world events. And she has stories of the limitations imposed on their family, especially, as Christians in a communist country.

The wall fell in Berlin in 1989 and immediately rippled across the communist world. There were peaceful demonstrations in Prague and in Bratislava. Then, in early 1993 Czechoslovakia officially divided into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. However, it took almost until the end of the 20th century before Slovakia won its share of the financial resources that had been centered in Prague, capital of the combined Czechoslovakia. From that point forward Batislava has flourished.

There has been an influx of international business creating new employment opportunities and upgrading the socio-economic status of the residents. Currently, the largest employers in the Bratislava region include Volkswagen, T-Com, Henkel, Kraft Foods, IBM, Orange, TMobile and E.ON Energie. Housing prices have soared and there is a housing boom within BA and in the outlying villages. Our children's new home is in a lovely new neighborhood with views of the Carpathian mountains on two sides. Their village is spiffing up with EU funding, and they are quite pleased with the quality of the local schools.

We hear every day about the troubles in the Middle East and elsewhere--wars, bombings, terrorism, abuses... Much of the time I feel discouraged and exhausted and wonder where God is in all this. So, it helps to be here and to observe and to make note and to talk about the good things that are happening. People have jobs and money to improve their lives. There is growth and vitality. There is hope.

1 comment:

Karin said...

Hi, Marilyn!

Okay, I must ask - who was sick? And, you're home, right?

Thanks for posting a comment on my blog. It is fun & cathartic & I'm just now beginning to think that this may be a really good way to "discover my voice" (as you would say...)

Let's get together soon, okay?