The past few days of my German language course has wreaked some havoc on my ego, perhaps from having high expectations to easily understand the language after only two months of instruction. This stems from humoring myself that I am some kind of Jose Rizal of the modern ages- a polyglot who seemed to had no difficulty learning a foreign language. He left some history here in Germany- in Heidelberg, to be exact- and learned the language proficiently in no more than a year of stay in the country.
Internet research on Ka Pepe occupied some of my free time a couple of days leading to our excursion to Heidelberg last Saturday. I listed down places where he was supposed to have lived and wrote letters to his family he left in the Philippines, drank beer with Germans as described in his letters, and studied to become an eye doctor to later on treat his mother’s eye illness.
After a tour of the Altstadt where the oldest university in Germany could be found and climbing up the tower of the Church of the Holy Ghost, we were only left with one hour to have lunch and roam around, before visiting the city’s renowned castle. Armed with a map of the city map provided us by the Sprachlehrinstitut, I frantically searched the Altstadt (literally “old city”) for the addresses I have gathered online. To my frustration, I wasn’t able to find those marked by the Philippine Embassy, mainly because I was pressed for time looking for them. The best I could do was to take a photo of the street where I was supposed to find the concerned houses, and this happened in at least two occasions.
The grand entrance to Karl-Theodor-Bruecke (bridge)
For a while I doubted Rizal’s stint in Heidelberg, as the numbers of the houses did not seem to exist at all- the street would break into a corner where I should already find the house, and thereby changing the street name and number. There was one exemption in Karlstrasse 16, where Jose Rizal was supposed to have first stayed when he arrived in town. It left no mark of his stay there- no plaque from the Philippine Embassy nor any reminder of him inside. I sneaked inside the building which has been turned into the Faculty of Theology, maybe an anonymous and sublime yet fitting reminder of Rizal.
I plan to visit the town again in the future, and maybe next time visit the park dedicated to him in Wilhelmsfeld where he stayed longer and finished writing Noli Mi Tangere.
Other interesting pictures of Heidelberg can be viewed in my flickr.