Communication Barriers

By Jane Mountain | June 27, 2013

3113 km so far.

The ladies having a very loud conversation in the hostel hallway from 6am to 7am really added a little sparkle to Stephen’s morning. I was wearing earplugs so I missed the whole thing, but it reminded me of that campground in Croatia when the maids stood outside our tent arguing at dawn.

The Accommodation Problem

We are currently skirting around the east side of Warsaw, having had enough of city traffic for a while. Bike touring through this part of Poland at this time of year is proving to be a little tricky. There are very few campgrounds in Poland, and none anywhere near our route.

Stealth camping would be great, since there are plenty of forests and abandoned farm houses. But every time we take a step off the road, be it to picnic in a local park or answer a call of nature, we are swarmed with mosquitos. And I’m not just talking about a few mosquitos. They come at us in their thousands.

And this is coming from a girl who spent whole afternoons as a kid counting her mosquito bites.

Someone heartier than we might brave it, but there’s just no way we want to camp with thousands of mozzies dining on our blood.

The tricky thing is, there are very few major towns, and next to no guest houses around either – at least not ones with websites. We have stumbled across plenty with no online presence, but it’s always hard to find one when you need it, and planning ahead is impossible.

Today’s destination is an agroturystyka 82 km from Radom, which may or may not be there, may or may not be open, and may or may not be full. They do have a website, but no email address, and our attempts to phone have so far failed. Nevertheless, this is our only option, so we’re hoping for the best.

Easy Riders

This morning we had a lovely flat ride on relatively quiet roads. Many of them were in great condition too, so we zipped along quickly. The route was lined with villages, so there was lots to see as well.

We saw dozens of yards full of chickens and fierce barky guard dogs to protect them. We also saw plenty of cows and horses. There were lots of elderly ladies and gentlemen out riding their bikes, loaded down with groceries. There were women picking mushrooms in the forests, and a man using a set of antique wooden crutches to hobble down the street.

A cherry-laden tree along our route.

A cherry-laden tree along our route.

We also passed by a woman sobbing at a roadside memorial. Of the hundreds of memorials that we’ve seen in the last three months, this is the first time there has been someone there, paying respects to the victim of whatever war or tragic accident took their life. It was very moving to see such naked grief on display, and got me thinking once again about how lucky we are to have each other and to be doing this amazing trip.

Bagels on a string bought from ladies by the roadside.

Bagels on a string bought from ladies by the roadside.

Just after noon, we arrived in Deblin, having already gone 60 km. I was desperate to eat, since we’d delayed our meal long enough to make it into town, so we sat in the first non-mosquito-ridden spot we could find. It just happened to be this parking lot.

Our picnic spot for today.

Our picnic spot for today.

Oh the glamour.

No matter, we enjoyed our sandwiches filled with chickpea smash and sun dried tomatoes, even if the people coming and going from the building did give us some strange looks.

We wanted to try and phone AgroEko Rancho before leaving town, so we searched for a place with WiFi in order to make the call. We were also searching for soy milk for breakfast tomorrow, some beans for dinner, and a restroom.

All of this took a REALLY long time. Like, almost 2 hours. For some reason, possibly because we waited so long to eat, I crashed, hard. Stephen had to drag me around town as he tried to solve our various problems. I was about as useful as a lump of grumpy dough and, given a chance, I would have happily laid down on a bench and gone to sleep.

Stephen handled me remarkably well by just ignoring me altogether and getting on with things. Well played Stephen!

Local Colour

The final 20 km to the little dot we’d marked on the map seemed like 40. And then we were there, but where was AgroEko Rancho?

Nowhere to be found.

In its place was an old farm that had obviously never been an agro or anything other than an old farm. Luckily, there were a few people outside, so we rode down the driveway to ask.

They were very helpful, but only in Polish. We caught some gists and surmised that our agro was 80 m up the road and then to the right. Good enough. We’ll try that.

Except the man who was helping us didn’t want us to leave. He was trying to make a phone call on our behalf. To whom? The agro? Someone he knows who speaks English? The King of Siam? We’ll never know.

All we do know is that everyone at the farm was involved in hunting for his glasses, and then the phone number (except the old woman who just kept plucking eyes out of potatoes the entire time we were there). Our friend finally went inside and had a long conversation with somebody. When he came back out, he told us a lot of stuff in Polish, and sent us on our way.

Having no idea what just happened, we followed the directions he’d initially given us, and with the help of a few townsfolk pointing us in the right direction, we found the agro. Since we didn’t call first, Barbara and Bogdan, the proprietors, are currently sorting out a room for us. They has some relatives staying, so are shifting people around to accommodate us. Sorry Barbara and Bogdan!

To give them some space, we rode back to the local sklep (store), where they sell beer and have picnic tables outside to drink it. I guess this is what passes for a bar in a town with no bar. We’ve been watching the local colour come and go.

A man without a shirt who didn’t need more vodka bought vodka, teenaged boys buy drinks and chips, middle aged men are doing shots (using the store’s shot glasses) and nursing their beers. One woman even left with a power tool!

stork in a nest poland

Where do baby storks come from?

Of course, everyone stares at us with incredulity. We stare right back. Very pleasant way to kill an hour.  

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Diane

    Diane June 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Another great post. I could really picture your experience and had some laughs as well. If you are having trouble with Polish just wait till you get to Cambodia!

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