Friday, April 11, 2008

The Wild West in the East.

Now based in the small town of Nowy Sanz in the South of Poland where the weather is unbelievable warm and with plenty of sunshine.
Lodged in the very comfortable bungalow of cousin Jerzyk an office is created at a corner of the 10 persons table in the immense dining room.
Here logistics are managed of life and work, current projects further developed and new ones initiated.

Nevertheless, cousin Jerzyk is afraid that the hyperactive family member may bore himself and this is why last night while having dinner he proposed to go and visit the Wawel cathedral of the city of Krakow soon and the salt mines of Wieliczka.

But this photographer is the worst tourist in the world and hates to visit places to inactively admire things like a church or even a salt mine.
Doing such an activity feels like having one foot in the tomb and the rest of the body to follow soon.

Hence, a counter proposal was made and this concerns the village of Chodorow in the Ukraine where our family originates from.

Since one year it is possible to get a visa at the border to enter the Ukraine.
The Ukrainian authorities have simplified entrance into their country and this makes it possible to go there and visit Grandfather’s grave.

But the idea to go to Chodorow launched during dinner exploded like a grenade filled with confetti.
Immediately the level of excitement, that was at a normal level, skyrocketed.
Everybody started talking with a loud and agitated voice.

It is a big issue for Polish people to think of going to the Ukraine.
There is a long historical background: in the end the Szulc Krzyzanowski family and millions of others were chased away from their lands during the Second World War and had to settle far more to the West.
They lost their home.

The other issue is that travelling to the Ukraine has hardly been possible during the last 60 years.
Hence, the Ukraine is like an unknown territory with unknown people living there and that makes most people afraid and careful.
It is the unknown and not many like to jump into it.

Then there are all the stories about the Ukraine.
That it is worse than what the Wild West once was.
Besides that every other Ukrainian person, so the stories go, is a robber, thief and criminal, the police are the worst.
They have roadblocks every 5 kilometres (3 miles) where a fine for nothing has to be paid.
And once in the city of Lwow in a hotel, it is too dangerous to go out after dark.
In case you want to return home alive.

It all sounds like a holiday in the Green Zone of Baghdad or a trip to Tsjetsjenia and the Ukraine stories might have a flavour of exaggeration.

But you never know.
If a bullet hits a visitor, the adventure turns into a tragedy and the exaggeration in that particular case was unjustified.

At the dinner table cousin Jerzyk immediately started calling people who knew more about going to the Ukraine and one story was stunning.
A Polish truck driver had been to the Ukraine recently and disclosed: “I kissed the ground once back in Poland”.

And another person insisted not to go with his car.
Cousin Jerzyk has a Porsche Cayenne.
That is asking for trouble in any uncivilised country.

In the end it was learned that the way to go was to drive to the Polish-Ukrainian border after arranging a pick-up by highly paid Ukrainian drivers and bodyguards on the other side.
The border crossing would be by foot and the journey would continue with the hired crew of professionals in violence, crime, banditism and corruption.
This is of course another way of tourism compared to visiting the cathedral of Krakow and the salt mine of Wieliczka.

A little bit of extra excitement and a higher premium to pay for health and life insurance.

Would a fervent and loyal blog reader accept this challenge?
To go or not to go?
To ignore the intimidation and put flowers on Grandfather’s grave or to chicken out and pray in the Krakow Cathedral?

This is not a question.
Even cousin Jerzyk, after the initial shock of learning about the plan to go to Chodorow, sees clearly now it is the thing to do.
Hence, the logistics are set up and if this is successful we go.
Bye bye.


1 comment:

Ken Norton - Image 66 Media said...

Almost everything you described about the Ukraine is said about Mexico by the common American.