Time to go back a bit, to my first entirely self-organized trekking abroad, in 2012. At first we’ve aimed for 5 people and Romanian Muții Rodnei, in the end we settled on 3 people – Ania, Ula and me – going to Ukrainian Svidovec. Date: long May weekend, operational time: 10 days.
Just before setting off, actually just before hopping on a train south, I got a call from my mom with worrying news. On this day there have been several bomb attacks in several cities in Ukraine… the story was all over the news. Honestly I was a bit stressed about it, but after all I was with two girls. Maybe that will sound a bit sexist, but somewhere deep inside I felt like I have to be the calmest one about it. And, after all, it had happened in the East of the country, and we were going to the much more peaceful West.
Another surprise was waiting for us in the train – my friends from scouting were going in the same direction. Kraków – Przemyśl – Lviv. Time passed quickly while playing card games and we arrived in Kraków before we knew it. Quick tour around the city center, after which we’ve found ourselves fighting for a single place on the next train to Przemyśl. Not for a sitting place, oh no. It was even hard to find a space on the corridor, full of people, backpacks and bikes. Huh, what do you know, long weekend in Poland.
Later the bus we’ve taken with the rest of the tourist towards the border in Medyka, was full just as the train. To this degree, that just on the second stop noone from the regular passengers – citizen – could enter, someone started shouting angrily, it all turned into a big mess. We’ve listened to this smashed somewhere between a sit and a rail, or a window… This kind of memories are wash away by the excitement that comes later when you make your first steps in the foreign country.
We’ve gotten stamps in our passports and all happy started our wait for bus towards Lviv. How sweetly naive we were! If we’d only knew what trouble will we get because of these stamps on our way back, we’ve would be far less excited. But that’s the part of the later story.
Nevertheless we’ve gotten amazed in particular when we’ve left the streets to look up over the roofs from the Town Hall tower, where we get with all the scout team. The view on the whole city was marvelous, but the thing that became engraved on my memory were the roofs. I stood there, taking pictures and imagining the stories that have been taking place underneath them. Families, single people, children. Working or unemployed, going every day to school, playing in their rooms. Under a new roof, a damaged roof, a leaking roof, a flat roof, a sloping roof… You know, normal stuff, but somehow more appealing to imagination thanks to them. Anyway, see for yourself:
Next stop was at the Lychakiv Cemetery, so to get there we’ve had to take a tram. Little did we know, what was awaiting for us. Few stops after we’ve entered, a bald and rather fat guy started to wobble, and in one quick moment he lost his ground and felt on the floor. Woman accompanying him began to cry and scream as he started to fall into epileptic seizure, rolling on the floor in uncontrolled spazms. The whole situation suddenly became surreal, like we were inside a movie set. The screams, the man on the floor, the stunned passengers….
Luckily Marek and Przemek used their first aid training from scouting, holding the surprisingly strong guy still, blocking his teeth so he won’t bite off his tongue and waiting for the ambulance to come, as the tram stopped. Unexpected and thrilling experience, taking into account that we were on the way to a cemetery. Makes you think and be uncomfortable aware that one moment you can be riding the tram and the next one you can be in the ambulance or even worse.
So, if we’re uncomfortable and creeped out enough, I can stop my story here to continue it next week with the Cemetery, ride in an Ukraine train and arriving in the mountains.