So I’m sitting here in cold, snowy, Calgary Alberta.
And I have the itchiest feet ever (don’t be gross, I’m speaking figuratively).
Problem is, I’m in the middle of school. Again. And though I know it’s a temporary grounding (it really does feel a bit like my parents grounding me in 10th grade), it’s hard to stay in one place for such a long time. Which is why reminiscing about my latest adventures keeps me sane. I’m currently watching season 1 of Departures, which also helps me keep sane? No, no it doesn’t. It makes me want to get up and leave SO BAD. But I can’t. School is necessary before I can take that next international step. So I’m here… at least until the third week of April. What happens after that………. is anyone’s guess!
I digress (I always digress).
Since my day-to-day life right now is about as exciting as finding old nacho chips under your couch cushion, let’s talk about my bus trip to Poland. Because Poland, for me, was one of the most unexpected gems I’ve ever happened upon. It’s also where I happened to go after Lithuania, which I believe is the last place I blogged about. I’m also reminded of it because I take the bus every second day here in Calgary and I’m sorry to say, but it’s slightly less eventful.
So I will transcribe some notes from my pen-and-paper journal so we can re-live some adventure, yes?
“Hi. Me again (I feel like a twelve-year old writing in her Dear Diary in this old pink journal. Whatever. Laptops don’t belong on all adventures). Okay. So I’m on the bus from Vilnius to Warsaw. It’s supposed to take 7 hours. And it’s an Ecolines bus because it’s the cheapest I could find. Which… probably… has something to do with how catching the bus was so much less than straight-forward that I’m actually surprised I’m on it. Not only was it not in the birth (is that what bus docks are called? Births? Bus birth? That sounds weird. It’s probably berth. Still sounds weird) that it was supposed to be in, but it wasn’t even in the berth it wasn’t supposed to be in. It wasn’t anywhere. It wasn’t anywhere near the train station at all. This bus, with its yellow body and obnoxious red advertisements sprawled all over it, was a good 90 minutes away. Ya, it was 90 minutes late. Which increased my “did I miss the bus?!” anxiety to exactly unreasonable.
But, alas. It came. And I got on, immediately noting the lack of washrooms. For a person like me with a bladder like a pea, I’m pretty sure I sighed a deep, disgruntled sigh.
I’ve been on the bus for thirty minutes and I already recognize this will be an exercise in abdominal torture. Oh well. When in Eastern Europe?
The Polish stewardess (is that what you call them when they’re stewards of the bus variety?) asks for my passport.
‘Oh! Canadian! We don’t get many Canadians here. And none traveling alone…. (pause) What are you doing here?’
‘Just traveling, actually.’
Blank stare. And then, ‘For how long?’
‘I don’t know really, I’m… jobless and homeless.’
She looks at me as though there’s something seriously wrong with me. Smacks her lips. ‘You are confirmed crazy.’ I suppress a giggle.
She looks down at my passport. ‘You’re so young!’
Suddenly cognizant of the fact that I’m not wearing makeup, haven’t showered in days – let alone wrestled a comb through my hair – and probably look closer to 80 than 28, I keep my head down, ‘Nah, getting old…’
She must have scrutinized my passport a little closer here, because there’s a pause and then, ‘you’re the same age as me!’ Oops. Did I offend her? (I’m good at offending strangers). We laugh a bit – yes, awkward laugh – and then she says to me, quite seriously, ‘I would be afraid to travel alone. Aren’t you afraid?’
I look around me and am reminded that I really am traveling alone from Lithuania to Poland, without a plan of any kind. A little stupid, probably. But I can’t help but smile. Isn’t this what living is all about? I shake my head, beaming.
So the bus is full and I have a neighbour to my right. He’s young-ish (younger than me, anyway), and he’s talkative like you wouldn’t believe. Very nice dude, actually. Born, raised, and currently living in the Polish countryside. We went through all of each others’ photos for the first hour of the trip. He’s just come from Kaunas in Lithuania (where Raminta, my awesome couchsurfing-host from my time in Vilnius is originally from). He says all the Lithuanian girls would call him “Leki” because he’s Polish. I don’t know what that means.
After a couple hours of chatting, and mid-sentence, Leki suddenly exclaims, ‘Oh! We’re in Poland now.’
I look out the window. It’s dark. All I can see is my reflection, staring back at me. How does he know we’re in Poland? I must have grunted ‘huh?’, or something, because Leki goes on to explain.
‘The roads are terrible now. Can you feel how bumpy it is? All of a sudden, like that? We must be in Poland. The roads here are no good.’
We laugh, (somewhat less) awkwardly, and continue to chat about all sorts of interesting things as this bright yellow bus jolts, jerks, rattles and shakes its way through the Polish night.”