Hello world,

Ever heard of Teekanne? No? Well neither had I. Turns out it is a tea company that originated in Düsseldorf, Germany. They have made premium tea products since 1882. On Wednesday I visited one of their factories and took a tour there. We got to see how the tea was packaged into the bags and then boxed. It's crazy how fast the process is. I also got to sample some of their teas which was an obvious plus. They come up with 5-6 new tea flavors per year. Some of their newest are strawberry cheesecake and blueberry pie??? I think maybe they've run out of ideas...

On Friday I made Indian food! The first exchange student that ever came to Willich (6 years ago) is back in Germany for work. His company gave him the opportunity to spend three months working in Düsseldorf because he speaks German! It really shows how beneficial having a second language can be. Anyways, he is from India and we had heard the stories of his curry cooking experiences six years previously so we decided to do it again. We made chicken, curry, potatoes, rice, and papadum. It was probably one of the best meals of my exchange. I have missed my diverse food from home so it was nice to have something no offense but not German.

Now onto the coal mills. Sunday I went to the Ruhr Museum with my Rotary club and we took a tour of the Zollverein coal mill. The museum was built in the coal mill which I thought was really cool. What better way to use a giant abandoned space than a museum?

The mill was in use between 1851 and December 23rd, 1986. The mill employed 8,000 people. That would have been 8,000 people without jobs right before Christmas, doesn't really seem like the Christmas spirit to me. Though it was devastating for the people employed there it might've been for the best that it closed. Working conditions in a coal mine aren't great if you can believe it.

90% of the men employed there worked underground in the mines. You could start working above ground at age 14 and in the mines at age 16. Only the lowerclass people worked there because they couldn't find work elsewhere or afford further schooling. The pay was good but it was really bad for your health. Coal was so heavy sometimes that rather than picking it up they had to roll it off of the conveyor belts. Their hands obtained so many injuries that they turned permanently black and blue. You also lost most of your hearing after two years working in the mines. Plus lung diseases from the coal dust were also a major problem.

If not healthy the coal mill was efficient. It was in operation 24 hours a day with three eight hour shifts per day. 12 carts moved up the elevator from the mine to above ground every 54 seconds. The carts took only 30 seconds to fill. 1000 cars were loaded and emptied per hour. As mentioned before the mill closed in December 1986 due to insufficient output (the previously mentioned statistics don't sound very insufficient to me but I'm just writing the facts). The Zollverein mill was the last one to be closed in Essen. After its closing air quality improved in the city which is an obvious plus. And now there is an awesome museum you can visit so double plus!

Last fun fact about the mill, when the museum was built a Dutch architect made bright orange escalators up to the entrance. The reason for the color was that he wanted the distinction between what was new and what was historical to be very obvious. So he showed this with color. Speaking of the Dutch, we visited this museum with our partner club which is located in Holland. It sounds like I will be taking a trip there soon to visit them! Stay tuned.

-kale salad