China Elevator Stories

A stay in the german countryside

I stay in the German countryside in the summer of 2019.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


I arrive in Diepenau, a small town in Northern Germany, after two flights and a 1-hour train ride. Henry, my Airbnb host, picks me up from the train station by car.

After we arrive at his place – a two storey house located in Northern Germany’s countryside – we both take a bike and he shows me the way to the next supermarket in town.

His house is a cozy wooden house that comes with a terrace, an unkempt garden, and a frog pond.

pond with frogs - illustration Ruth Silbermayr

I spend my days looking for work, translating WeChat messages from Chinese into German, and chatting with my children via video calls.

I visit the next biggest city, Minden, a few times by bike and go to the local library.

My host Henry is working during the day, and I have most of the house to myself. I like spending time in his garden and enjoy a coffee while I relax in the sun in the early afternoonsHenry likes to drink a beer or two in the evenings. He doesn’t talk much.

On my first evening in Diepenau I join him on his terrace while he opens a bottle of beer. He tells me he used to work as a soldier in Iraq. I ask him: “What did you do there, exactly?” He says: “I worked in IT.”

When I ask him about the reason he stopped his work in Iraq, he explains: “A few of my colleagues got killed. Most soldiers became traumatized from the experience. It wasn’t what I had expected.”

Henry has a shooting license, and one of his hobbies is to hunt raccoons in a nearby forest. A few rifles line the wall of the entrance area of his home.

On a few weekends, Henry takes his dog, Sally, a German Shepherd, and goes into the woods to hunt raccoons. He comes back home with a few dead raccoons every time. He usually puts them into the freezer. Once they are frozen, he then takes them out another day to prepare racoon meat in the kitchen.

The way he prepares raccoon meat is by skinning the frozen racoons, cutting off big chunks of meat, and then drying them in a dehydrator. Once he is done, he has a lot of dried raccoon meat he then feeds his dog Sally as a treat and the house is filled with the smell of dead raccoons.

Have you ever lived in an Airbnb home?

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