Travel Experience

Travel Experience

Tree with shadow, words on Polish flag: S-cray-oh-la in Poland

Welcome to my Poland section. I made this section to show my friends and my church the things I learned, observed, and thought during the preparation and process of my trip to Poland to teach English for a year.

2002/09/20

One day more.

My entire life; all that I am, everything I foresee needing, my hopes, my dreams, my love, my gifts, my soul; at least, all of this that can be stuffed, crammed, squished, shoved, and compressed into one thin individual, two sixty-six pound suitcases, one carry-on, and a laptop case, is ready.

I have taken what steps I can to prepare the life I leave behind. Mostly, I wonder, "Am I ready?"

Tomorrow, I will fly on a commercial airplane for only the third time ever. That somehow fails to unnerve me.

I'll be stepping into a completely new world and opening my heart and mind to people who expect a great deal from me, and though I am extremely excited about this trip, I am also scared to death.

I know that, on my own two feet, I am as prepared for this as an Incan warrior would be to face a modern tank.

I am completely inadequate, and my best is not nearly good enough. I am, and will be, a failure.

If I go into this alone, on my own.

In Christ, that picture changes completely. I am, in Christ, more than adequate for this and any other challenge God sends me to meet. I am, as I have always been, in God's hands, and I cannot possibly fail at what God wants me to accomplish.

2002/09/21

I left Tallahassee on a jet plane so small it had only one stewardess.

When I got off the plane in Miami, I walked into a causeway that had panels along the sides in a rainbow of colors. It appeared to be on one side, with a mirror on the other, but after noticing that I wasn't casting a reflection, I realized the "mirror" was just a plate of glass.

Miami International Airport is very big. I had to walk ALL the way around to the other side of the C-shaped terminal to get to my flight. It was very hot. I ate the remainder of the sandwich I had brought as I waited for the next leg of the flight.

The oceanic leg of the flight was in a big 747 with televisions and earphones and such. When we took off, I noticed that Miami stacks up its planes and launches them one right after another. After three hours, my legs felt cramped. I must make a note on the return to stow my coat overhead. It got in the way. The first in-flight movie was "About a Boy", and it was very good (better than I expected from Hugh Grant). I tried to sleep during the second movie, but I was unable to sleep on the plane.

Dinner was Provençale-style beef ragoût with olives and tri-color pasta, orzo salad with saffron and seafood, cheese and yogurt, apple crumble, and juice. The food on the planes was good and plentiful, and I only ate one package of crackers from my carry-on.

The flight took nine hours. Perhaps Lindy should have left from Miami.

2002/09/22

The Paris airport, CDG, is huge! They use two parallel runways and get planes in and out quickly. They don't send many of the planes to the terminals. Instead, they park them in huge plane parking lots and bus people to and from. A lady in a yellow vest was waiting at the foot of the ramp with a sign reading "Warsaw - Moscow". She got the passengers heading to these cities into a van and drove us to the terminal. I must say, this third flight (in the van) was the first time during my trip that I contemplated my life might actually be in danger.

The plane to Warsaw was smaller than the 747, but it wasn't nearly as small as the first plane. I arrived in Warsaw and discovered that the airline had lost my luggage. I was frustrated.

I filled out the forms for lost luggage and proceeded to the exit. I looked around for the pastor I was expecting to meet me. No one was waiting for me! I was very frustrated.

I walked around looking for him, and finally I decided to try calling the only Polish telephone number I had: the office of the president of the Methodist Church in Poland. No one answered. I got some Polish money and went upstairs to a newspaper shop, where I bought a map of Warsaw.

I found the street of the office on the map and took a taxi to a hotel near there.

The employees of the hotel didn't speak much English (which I later learned is rare in Warsaw), and they told me I couldn't pay with traveller's cheques or US dollars. I got them to direct me to a currency exchange, where I turned in all my pocket money (which was supposed to buy me food in Miami, but which I didn't need because of my sandwich), for three hundred something złotys, which was very close to what the room cost. About $85.

"Very good price" the taxi driver had said... My traveller's cheques appeared to be worthless paper and my cash not accepted... I got into my room and stayed there. I wanted to cry. I felt as though I were getting culture shock out of the way early.

I decided I would spend the night rueing the cabbie's advice and praying to God for a miracle on Monday.

2002/09/23

I went to sleep at 3PM on Sunday and slept 8 hours. I spent the rest of the wee hours in a cycle: worry, read, pray, try to sleep, repeat.

My stomach was doing flips, and I was tired of cracker/bad road food. I looked in my carry-on and found a yogurt bar. I thought, 'Oh, boy--mess.' It wasn't messy, and it was good. I felt immeasurably better after eating it.

I called the office from the hotel and reached the president of the church. I felt very relieved and immeasurably better. He said he would pick me up at 11:00, and told me to relax. I did. I discovered that breakfast was included in the price of the room, and I had my first real meal in Poland.

Reverend Puślecki (push let ski), the president of the Methodist church in Poland, arrived right on time, but he didn't bring a car. It turns out I was less than five minutes walking distance from the office. I had chosen my hotel well, but if I had gone to the address instead, I would possibly have learned that he lives in that same building. In Poland, people often live in the building with their office.

I had tea with Reverend Puślecki. He was very helpful, and he even covered my hotel bill. He brought in his niece, who runs the Warsaw English Language Club, which is an extension of the college. I talked with her about the club. The airport delivered my luggage to the office while I was there. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't have to keep up with it during my frustrating night.

I had lunch at Reverend Puślecki's home, and then his son drove me to Iława

On the way, I listened to the radio station his son had chosen. In the two or three hours of the trip, I heard many songs I recognized, including "Gangsta Paradise", "Under the Bridge", and "Lemon Tree" (not the folk song).

Pastor Kopacz is very helpful and nice. Everyone is eager to be helpful, and big plans abound.

I had dinner with Pastor Kopacz, and now I am very tired. My body is rebelling against not having enough sleep, and doesn't want much food. I must sleep soon.

2002/11/06

This is a statue of a famous Polish author. I have forgotten his name.

image description follows:

Statue of Stefan Żeromski.

 

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