3355 km so far.
We started the day in the perfect way. Coffee with Jerzy, sitting on the patio of his bar, talking about life.
We found about life in Zambrów and the history of the area. Being so close to the Russian border, the area was a frontline in WW2. Half the town’s population was sent to Treblinka, which is only about 25 km from here. We talked about how the Polish underground army operated in the area, undermining the Nazi forces, and how some people in town were collaborators.
Jerzy told us stories his father had shared with him of living in Warsawa during the war. His father remembers having to go shopping with his mother because women with young children were less likely to get rounded up by the Nazis. We talked about how much life, politics, and corruption in Poland has changed, mostly for the better, since the fall of communism.
We also discussed how Jerzy has single-handedly introduced good beer to the townsfolk of Zambrów. OK, he didn’t quite say that, but that’s how I decided to see it.
It is amazing the people you can meet and the human interaction you can have if the timing is right. If we had gone left instead of right, crossed the street at a different place, or stopped to argue for 10 more seconds none of this would have happened.
And if Jerzy hadn’t come back to say hi, we never would have met, or seen these baby birds.
The Tide Turns
That was the best part of the day over, but we didn’t know it at the time.
Today was not a pleasant ride.
The day started with sunshine, but we spent the best weather of the day talking with George. Twenty minutes into our ride huge rain drops began to fall. They were fat and cold and almost like sleet. Ten minutes later we were soaked. Soon, the hard rain petered off into a cold, misty drizzle.
There was a break in the weather accompanied by some downhill riding so we had pretty much dried out when stopped after 25 km to go to Tesco and buy second breakfast. The shopping took way too long because it turns out they had built a massive Tesco Extra, but not hired any staff. The three check-out queues had a minimum of 15 people waiting in each.
We only wanted a couple of donuts and some fruit, but the break took 45 minutes.
The Mercury Falls
By the time we’d snacked and got back on our bikes it was 1:00pm and the rain was getting ready to start again. This time it was accompanied by heavy cloud cover and a most unpleasant wind. The temperature dropped to about 10C (50F) in minutes and all of a sudden we were freezing cold, wet, and had a lot of road ahead of us.
It was during this cold, wet rain that we saw the first other bike tourists we have seen in Poland! They were headed south and we gave each other big waves as the rain poured down, and our fingers began to numb. It has been approximately 1,000 km and one month since we have seen other bike tourists.
If the weather had been more pleasant we definitely would have stopped for a chat. As it was, and with big transport trucks whizzing by in both directions, we settled for a wave, and kept going.
Still it’s nice to know we’re not the only crazies on this route.
The Lord Giveth
We pulled into an empty church yard for a lunch break a while later. The church had a wide awning to shelter us, and a corner where we could be protected from the wind. But, since we weren’t generating heat by pedalling, by the time we had eaten, our toes and fingers were numb.
With only 35 km to our destination we pressed on. However it got colder and we couldn’t get warm. We spotted a hotel another 10 km along and, despite the high price for not much, we checked in.
The building was the synagogue here in Kolno before the war. It is, apart from Kraków, only the fourth or fifth sign of the former Jewish past on our entire trip. Most synagogues were wiped out along with the people.
After warming up we went for a walk through town.
There was a beginning-of-summer festival happening in this incredibly cold weather. On a large stage, young girls were singing poorly, doing dance moves and songs completely inappropriate for their age.
There were bouncy castles, toy plastic guns for sale, an ice cream vendor having the worst day, and for some reason way too many fully decked out security guards and police.
We started the day off where beer is almost holy, we sheltered from the storm where Jesus is king, and we sleep tonight in a sanctuary where Yeshuah was worshipped.
I guess even non-believers can benefit from a little faith now and then.
Soundtrack: SummerJams 2013 (a Spotify playlist our friend Elke introduced me to) | Calexico, Algiers | The Blow, Everyday Examples Of Humans Facing Straight Into The Blow | The National, Trouble Will Find Me | Kanye West, Yeezus ♥