Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The shortest visit in Poland

What was just 970 km on the map turned out to be 1290 km in the reality. The day was rainy and I got an offer to stay one more day at my place in Copenhagen but I already had my mind set on hitchhiking and knew that bad weather somewhere on the way was inevitable.

I had some luck at the very beginning. The truck driver, Turkish guy living in Germany, was going all the way to Berlin, taking the ferry from Rødbyhavn. He told me we would get to Berlin by 18 but actually we reached my gas station at 20.30. He had left for Copenhagen early at night and had slept just for 2 hours, so at every gas station we passed he got some coffee and that resulted in such long breaks on our way to Berlin. By the way, it was the first ride and I already had to speak only German. i didn't even have the last chance to listen once again to wonderful Danish!

My situation after this ride was miserable. It was getting dark (at 21!), the gas station was so small, no cars that seemed to be going to Poland apart from one that was full, only three cars that stopped with an offer to give me a ride to Berlin. Fortunately I was rescued by two Polish guys coming back from Oslo.

We had a chat about working and living abroad and came to conclusion that even if you have to give 60% of your salary to the country and pay unconscionable prices for living, it's still better than living and working in Poland. They dropped me off at the tool booth just before Poznań, in pitch dark and pouring rain.

The next ride was rather an emergency rescue from a dire situation. Instead of getting into Poznań, just a stone's throw from my town, I decided to hitch any ride, just to escape the rain and cold. I got way too far east, but in a nice companionship of a Ukrainian truck driver. Listening to Ukrainian music, talking about countryside life, finding out that even Ukraine is more expensive than West Europe, I survived the rain.

One ride that really helped me adjust to the crude Polish reality was from a guy who worked in Utrecht. I swear, all my complaints about Poland found a good listener at last! Complaints about low salaries, high costs of living, unfair employers who don't respect the worker, cheating you about money, getting a job "because you're my friend," studying "to have a good job and prestige," struggling to get by with 400 euro per month were understood to a fault. We understood each other so well and the discussion was so involving that I missed the spot where I had to get off and had to get from east to west part of Torun to hitch my last ride.

I was damn exhausted after over 24 hours of continuous hitchhiking. To my big relief my last driver was going to Szczecin, so from the place where he dropped me off I had just a 20 minute walk.

My neighborhood welcomed me with paved roads (after 16 years of living there!) but the city itself annoyed with countless constructions that caused my confusion and disorientation when I tried to find my way. Fortunately, with a little help from my friends being back in Poland didn't seem to be that bad. And the very close future has some more days on the road in store for me...

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