After a mammoth hike in the relentless, pouring rain I found an ATM to settle the bill for lodgings. I then found myself in a carbon copy scenario of yesterdays hitching attempts. 2 guys manned the station, the rain did fall and after a few hours they let me inside where the same system as yesterday developed. Only difference being I was 'roadside' thanks to the only let up of rain that day... as they introduced me to Trevor.
Trev was a polish fella in his 50's with 2 pals in tow. After a 5 hour wait and a 1 hour drive we arrived at the Polish border at 5pm.
Quite a large, bustling border this one. I waited in an ugly mesh enclosure with around 100 peeps for an hour in the cold, wind driven drizzle, waiting for the cattle gate to open as clumps of peep slowly got herded through to the customs building.
On the Polish side all sorts of activity was present...Supermarkets, bars a 24 hour pizzeria. Border rats doing whatever it is border rats do...all a bit shoddy but rich in character. It was around 7pm, I fancied my chances on the 300km to Krakow by midnight. It was prematurely dark, the moody skies hung low, very little traffic was coming into Poland from the Ukraine side. I noticed the odd set of headlights sloping on to the main road off in the distance. I hobbled on forward... the drizzle turned chubby.
Standing in a shadow soaked to the bone under a thin rattling rail bridge, surrounded by fields and an onlooking Cow... I didn't like the odds of making Krakow by midnight.
I have been plodding along on autopilot for weeks now, snatched the odd chat in broken English here and there, no phone and scattered Internet communication has me cut off. This is far from a hardship, but the chats I am having with myself in the mind are becoming repetitive. I used to get sick of the sound of my own voice... now its my thoughts. I did however enjoy the moody isolation under the bridge. It brought around a bout of self consciousness, one step closer to home yet still in the middle of nowhere, I didn't know where, what or if the closest town was even there. A nice Kodak moment I thought... struggling to balance the camera on the rucksack a bus straight out of 1960's England drove past to drop a fella off 50 metres down the road. He sought shelter under the same bridge as I on the other side of the road...
he shouted over
" ich tit bruder uler tier"
"am English pal"
he looked at me funny
"wit waaaa dat"
I quickly turned back round and looked at him funny.
My ears tuned in a little more this time, an instinct must of latched on to an echo of his tone reverberating round my head... forcing the mind to go back in time and do a few extra sums.
It can't be, not out here!
"say again pal"
"whrrr u from"
the mind had caught up with real time and tuned in...
" where you from more like..." I said smiling
"what you doing wandering round here with a suitcase on wheels"
" your a Geordie, I used to live in South Shields...great place"
I burst out laughing.
Starved of any real conversation for weeks and I meet a 62 year old Glaswegian Oil Engineer, under a rickity bridge in the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain, soaking wet and the first thing he mentions is my hometown South Shields.
" is the border round here he said again"
"aye ...its just up that road" I said.
Gorden handed me a Cigar as we chatted away under that bridge in the pouring rain till darkness fell. Having given up on Krakow for the evening I escorted Gordon up to the border to the 24hr Pizzaria for just the 1 drink, that 1 turned into a lot more which carried us into the early hours. No rooms or lodgings anywhere...we both stretched out on the Picnic tables outside. It was very cold and damp. But the world provided me with the best chat I could have wished for at such a point on this trek. Cheers Gordon Stewart.