29 December, 2005

Ultimum: A Numbers Game

Yesterday John was going to visit a friend from church, and since this particular friend is married with two small children I decided to tag along to meet the family. John called for some basic directions, and we headed out into the sleet. After stopping by the store for some chocolate covered cherries to present to our hosts (yes, we are in fact experts in this culture), we turned our attention to 5 tall skyscraper-esque (soviet bloc-esque might be more accurate) apartment buildings, one of which housed our visitees. Knowing only that we were looking for the building named (I know: named?) ‘Ultimum,’ we continued on. None of them appeared to have names or signs, and John thought his friend might have said the first building, so we started there.
Upon entering, we were confronted with 4 or 5 different elevators to choose from. Having a mind like a steel trap, John was fairly certain that the apartment number we were looking for was 6- and he remembered this even though it wasn’t written down. The elevator is nearly impossible to describe, so I will only say that it was small and had roughly 30 floor-buttons to choose from. The thing is, the numbers were in almost completely random order! Thankfully, the number 2 was where it should have been anyway, and that was the floor we planned to start with.
After pushing it a few times to get it to work (and trying the number 3 button, too), the elevator whooshed into motion and promptly carried us to the 14th floor, at which point we were immediately joined by a woman, which also meant that, due to the small size of the elevator and slightly complicated door situation, we were pretty much forced to remain on our chariot of the sky, and that was fine since we didn’t want the 14th floor anyway. From what I could tell, our new lift-mate pressed the button for the 11th floor. This (logically) got us to the basement. Then she pressed the 2nd or 3rd floor button, which got us to floor 26. Of course, I was doing everything in my power not to laugh out loud or snort or something, though a few small gasps did escape. Eye contact with John was completely out of the question. Finally she got out of the elevator and we managed to get to the 3rd floor and get out.
We were too high (not a drug reference, I only mean that we were past apt. #6), and tried pressing the button to summon several different elevators, with no luck. We also noticed that some of these had no ‘up’ option at all, only down- perhaps a metaphor? Thankfully, we located a sketchy looking door that we hoped would lead to stairs. And it kind of did. Scary, rusty outdoor-fire-escape-ladder-stairs. But they were functional and we made it to the 2nd floor, which was still too high. Back to the tetanus/chlamydia stairs. Finally we found apartment #6! Nobody answered. We took the elevator down one floor to the exit and stood out in the rain while John called and confirmed that we should go to the 4th skyscraper. Excellent- only 15 minutes late and we didn’t waste any time searching the 2nd and 3rd skyscrapers.
Still no sign that said Ultimum, but this time apartment #6 was easy to find. And the door swung open to reveal…a non-English speaking grandma. With the help of her grandchildren we successfully determined that our friend did not live in apartment #6. Another phone call later and we were on our way to the 16th floor. We spent a very enjoyable few hours in apartment #100 talking and making faces at the baby and tasting blueberry schnapps (the baby had some, too…not kidding). Ahhhh, Croatia, how I love thee. I also have a new appreciation for cell phones.

1 comment:

sarah may said...

Sounds like a great adventure. Too bad you can't market a game like that...or can you?