MAY 13, Friday: The Laughter Hike and GibberiShpiritual Bliss (Graz, Austria) (Day Seven)
Guten Morgen! The laundry is done nicely, and we repack our bags. Bidding farewell to Alex, we stream aboard and the bus heads out at 10:00am. At the border between Slovenia and Austria, the Guard, when told we are a “LachClub Group,” asks us to pull over to the side of the road. (Also odd for him was that we had a huge bus - with only 7 passengers!) Two Guards come on the bus, a young man and a younger woman. The fellow takes all our passports and walks away – we laugh away our nervousness. The male guard returns in five minutes giving us the “okay.” He says they are looking primarily for illegal persons.
Frohlich Dahveedt drives us to Gartnerhaus Spechtel where we meet our contact folks: Elfi Seher and our Talented Translator, Petra. Petra’s English is virtually fluent - a pleasant relief. We have a nice lunch as they offer regional specialties. Weary of all the potatoes and starches, I ask for a substitution (with my WienerSchnitzel): a second salad. That’s no problem, but when I ask that this salad be warm Sauerkraut, every European gets an astonished look on their face – almost one of disgust! It seems that sauerkraut may be acceptable to go with sausage, but NOT with breaded/fried steaks (which is what a WienerSchnitzel is). Undaunted, I enjoy my excellent repast. Celeste points out that one of the ice cream specialties is named “Heisse Liebe” - literally, “Hot Love.” We get a lot of laughs anticipating “Hot Love” at our hotel tonight, and going down to the local market to pick up some of their “Hot Love.”
The bus remains here (where Dahveedt will sleep, as he required a single room) and Petra and Elfi drive the rest of us (in two cars) to “GartenParadis” for our Laughter Walk in the Woods. On a gentle circling path, surrounded by trees and greenery, we stop at several “stations” and perform rituals, focusing on gratitude, love, connecting with the earth, etc. At a roughly-hewn picnic table we do Laughter Meditation – which goes on for more than 20 minutes! Poor Beth, anticipating that something with the name “Meditation” in it would be silent, was disappointed. She was hoping for Peace and Quiet in the woods, and instead had to put up with a long stretch of hysterical laugh-roaring. Anne and I do Headstands on the table top, and also set up for a PhotoShopped attempt at “Levitation.” We joke: “Wow, Elfi is quite a teacher! She got some of our group to float in mid-air, and in only one session!” ;-]
After the walk and enjoying the owner’s collection of sculpted elves, sprites and bunnies (and plenty of garden plants for sale), we head over to the Babaji-Haus, where we will have a Gibberish Party/Laughter Session and sleep this night. The place is very woodsy, with “Om Namah Shivaya” signs scattered throughout. Our hostess Anamika shows us the rooms, which are divided informally: Ruthe gets the masterful, earthy main bedroom, Anne goes for the topmost loft. “Do you need bedding?” Anamika asks – many of the “pilgrims” who visit here bring their own sleeping bags. We admit we are not so-equipped, and bedding and towels are made available.
Frohlich Dahveedt bales at the site of the vegetarian cuisine, and drives to his digs (and dinner - of “real” food) at Gasthaus Spechtl. The rest of us find the cuisine exquisite; clearly prepared with love and consciousness. Elfi and Petra and I paste together a rough agenda for the evening’s program, scheduled to begin at 7:00pm.
Guests filter in and we actually start at 7:30. Anamika joins us along with Gordona (she also helped with dinner prep) and two or three others. (A longtime laughter buddy, Aron Fejer, arrives 45 minutes later.) After a 2-minute English introduction, the event takes off. Ruthe and Dave demonstrate “How to Speak Gibberish” (inspired by our video, but here all the narration is IN Gibberish). There are segments of Jokes, Poetry, Singing; Laughter Exercises (led by many of us); Fast Gibberish (aka Verbal Diarrhea); and a Guided Relaxation. The repeated phrase for “Relax” (approximately “Pee-waah…”) cracked up Gordona terribly – and this caused Anne to crack up, too. Very little actual Relaxation occurred –the segment turned out to be more like an extended Laughter Exercise.
After a tea break, we segued into a long session of drumming. We were invited to participate in a Fire Ceremony in the morning, scheduled for a time a bit too late (as Dahveedt was due to come by to fetch us in the AM). Anamika said she would shorten the ritual a bit and start it earlier, so most of our group plan to attend the next morning. Happily buzzing, we all fall into a deeply-nourishing, post-Gibberish, post-Trance-Drumming sleep. The best!