Sunday, June 30, 2013

From Siedlce to Zakopane

My day started very early. I woke first at 3 AM, startled because it was starting to be daylight. Daylight appeared in Amsterdam at 5 and I thought I had overslept. A look at my watch -- well actually the time on the Kindle-- I can see that without glasses -- allowed me to go back to sleep for a bit. But I had completed my shower and had everything packed up and was downstairs in the lobby with my luggage at 5:25 AM. When I stepped out of the elevator and got in range of the router for the Wi-Fi my phone announced I had mail.

 I spent a few a minutes doing texts with my friend in Nebraska. Then I sent Dorota a message saying "Jestem up i ready."  A few minutes later a text returned telling me that she and her husband were on the way. We walked basically just around the corner where the bus was to be parked. As the bells chimed in the cathedral for 6 AM the bus appeared. Then began the job of packing in all the luggage for nearly 50 campers along with food and water for the day, the teaching supplies, and even towels for all of us to use in Zakopane.

 Dorota and I started out in a car with Jacek, one of the camp directors. I sat in the back seat wondering if we were going to stop in Minsk to pick up more campers, and if so, what would we do with the luggage. Before we got to Minsk Dorota told me that we would be wait for a van from Reymontowka that would be going all the way to Zakopane. We would change over to the van and the extra luggage would be loaded in the van. And so we were off.

About 45 minutes later we pulled into a gas station and picked up one last camper. The next stop was traditional, the McDonalds at Radom. Since last year this McDonalds has done a renovation. There is now very nice outside seating, but the what surprised me was the ordering system. One now places the order, gets a number and then moves to another counter to receive the order. Meanwhile one can watch progress on a digital monitor.

 We stopped again later at a gas station -- not for fuel for the vehicles, but rather for the restrooms. I always enjoy these stops, wandering the aisles to see what's the same and what's different. Maybe I've not looked well in the United States, but surely for Poland -- a tea drinking country, the item below surprised me.

We had a slow journey through Krakow. The road takes us by the the big box stores and on Saturday afternoon that was crowded with stop lights about every 4 blocks. At last we were at the Krakow airport and we found another 8 Americans. I finished the journey with two women from Hawaii who had just flown up after visiting also in Budapest and with 1 man from Washington, D.C. I had had e-mail conversations with all these folks, so it was already like being with friends.

It took us about 2 hours to get to Zakopane. Unfortunately for the new visitors, the weather was cloudy and rainy and they did not get the good mountain views. However, the beautiful hotel is beautiful rain or shine!

We all did some unpacking and then gathered for dinner at 6 PM. After the evening meal we had a short meeting to introduce ourselves to each other. If I have it right besides Hawaii, D.C., and Minnesota (me) we volunteers from Ohio, New Jersey, Arizona, and Texas. All of us are "older" except for one young man -- a 7th grader, who is here with his grandmother. We are off to a good start -- and obviously the Internet works good too!

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