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July 9, 2006

Jakub is a small farming village, so it was kind of surprising when our friends from the strawberry patch invited us on an outing to the Kacina villa just 5 km from our door, tucked away in a small forest that used to be the local lord's hunting grounds. It turns out that every village had one of these, some grander, most humbler. Many have fallen into disrepair or altogether disappeared, but Kacina has been restored and serves as both testament to the high living of nobility as well as a museum to the local agricultural heritage. It's an interesting mix. In the basement and sub-basement there are models, dioramas, stuffed livestock, and tools relating the entire history of farming in this area, including an exquisite collection of elaborate beehives carved from tree trunks, most of them depicting religious scenes as honey gathering was typically the province of the clergy, who devoted much of the harvest to the production of mead. Upstairs, 6 meter high ceilings,
intricate jigsaw cut hardwood floors, hand carved trim, and monumental ceramic stoves which were
stoked from behind by unseen servants in hidden passageways with camouflaged doors. This was the
trophy home of the local noble who owned all the surrounding land, village, and people
in it. Europeans like to remind Americans how much more history they have,
but it was these centuries of feudalism which people fled to start afresh in
America with its promise of
equal opportunity. (And not to
be outdone by Old World ex-
cesses, Americans created
their own dubious history of
Indian genocide, African en-
slavement, & class warfare.)