wägler /way-gler/ noun a. A person who lives in a bauwagen. Literal translation: “wagoner.”
steinhäusler /sty-n-hoy-sler/ noun a. A person who lives in a stone house. Literal translation: “stone houser.” The detail of stone is included due to the fact that most houses in Europe are built of stone. In America, for example, the term Backsteinhäusler (“brick houser”) or Holzhäusler (“wooden houser”) might better apply.
It is perhaps also important for the burgeoning German student to note that the only people I have ever heard use either term are people who live in bauwaegen.
A night in a “stone house” is, admittedly, a luxury. Especially on the nights when there is a party scheduled in the venue at the front of our property that is bound to bump and thump (or in the case of electro, twink and twonk and beep?) late into the night. As a person who values sleep above just about everything else, and with a Beard planning to work the following day, we fled the premises and spent the night at some friends’ empty apartment in the city across the river.
Staying in apartments and houses is a mixed bag. There are the luxuries: hot showers and baths, walks to the bathroom that don’t require going outside, large indoor spaces that can fit quite a few people, heating systems turned on and off by a dial, running water in the kitchen, and reliable internet connections. The main downside is that I always wake up feeling like I have the Sahara desert in my mouth.
On paper, the luxuries outweigh the downsides. Then again, most of the downsides don’t really weigh in on a one-night visit. The cost of rent, the environmental absurdity of peeing into a bowl of water, the fact that you can spend hours (days! weeks!) without ever setting a single foot outside, and the strangeness of living in a building full of strangers. I can’t say I can imagine ever renting again.
Sometimes, however, I can imagine a house. Nothing big, and certainly nothing with electricity or running water, but a pretty little shed somewhere in the woods with a wood stove and a nearby stream and a composting outhouse across the meadow. When I let my imagination run wild, I imagine that someday I will find a run down old summer camp property for sale for a song, filled with strange tiny buildings that will fill with good people.
I fell in love with this shack while we were in America. As far as permanent structures go, this would have to be my dream house. It’s in the woods yet near an interesting town, it’s next to a stream, it’s go a ton of problems that I know how to fix, it has no running water, the neighbors are awesome, and it could very feasibly be squatted.