So today we went to Chełmno to take part in the Valentine's Day festivities. These included a parade (which we missed - I wondered why all those random people with wind instruments were walking away from the market square), a special Saint Valentine's Mass (which we were late for - the church was beautiful, though, and many people (mainly kids) were dressed in red or even adorned with red hearts), an opportunity to touch a case containing the bones of Saint Valentine (which we did partake with awe and wonder), and a big concert in the market square to finish it off.
Except I didn't exactly go to the concert. I lost sight of the main group (including Cedrick with his bright yellow University of New Brunswick jacket - how could I lose him?!) and decided to hang around the back of everything under the roof of a newspaper stand, as it was snowing just enough to get my backpack soaked were I to have been exposed to it for long.
A heavy-set Polish man saw me taking video and attempted to talk to me. He made great efforts to be understood, unfortunately he could only repeat himself over and over. At one point, though, he drew a diagram of the Chełmno streets using the road grease on the hood of a white car. He told me that he was a carpenter and that he had worked on many of the buildings in the area. We had much more amusing language difficulty, after which he invited me for a beer.
So I became a trifle wary at this point, but to my relief we went into a reputable-looking bar facing the market square. He orders two Specjals, a weak and a strong, and I take the weak one. Then we start to talk some more, and I think I was able to say where I was from (New Scotland, Canada) versus where my ancestors were from (Scotland), but I'm not sure. Not that I try to work this information into a conversation, but I think he was asking.
One guy at another table translated a precious few lines for us, but it turned out he was more interested in asking me about hockey. I mean, this guy was a total fan - he named a bunch of Canadian Teams, and he said his favourite goaltenders were Martin Brodeur and Sean Burke. I told him I was impressed that he knew the names of so many players.
I had my Canadian Flag bag tag conspicuously placed in the hopes that someone would come by who could speak English (as if the two dictionaries next to my beer weren't enough of a clue that help would have been appreciated), and I don't think it worked, but then this new fellow came up, and we introuduced ourselves to each other.
"William, is it? Oh! Do you work in Lisewo?"
Hah! Turns out it's Kinia's boyfriend! Kinia is an English teacher at the Primary School and Gymnasium in Lisewo where I work! He asks me if I'd like to come along with him for a while. Sure! So we leave the bar, pick up some flowers for Kinia, then drive to her apartment.
"Is it really you?"
I hadn't seen her in two weeks - it felt like a year! We sat down and talked, and she offered me some cake. I kept thinking about how much I was going to miss Lisewo, especially the children, since it won't be so simple to see them again. Kinia mentions that the children were all sad that I wasn't there today (although I am never there on Mondays, sad to say). Aww. =( Well, that reminds Kinia that she has something for me.
Awwwww, Martyna (from the Gymnasium) wrote me a Valentine's card! I nearly cried! I can't explain how overcome with joy I was. I want to share it, but I also don't want to, because it's for me. My emotions are actually supressing my urge to blog. How cool is that?
Anyway, it came to be time to get back to the concert, so we left. I took some pictures of Kinia and her beau (whose name escapes me, but he was a cool, bookish guy), and told them I needed to do some shopping. This was done - I acquired gum and some Axe and a Polish brand of roll-on, but apparently they don't have Listerine in Poland ("Gdzie yest Listerine?"). Oh well. (These things might be available in Płużnica, but it's the Canadian equivalent of going to a corner store for your groceries - it's more expensive.)
I found the group again at the scheduled meeting point, and all was swell. And I've been happy since, albeit a little tired at times.
Some other things I'd like to share:
- There's a dog here that needs to be muzzled or something, seriously. This morning he decided to start barking at 5:45am on a morning (this morning) when I didn't plan to get up until 7:15. However, getting up early did work out for the best. This has been a day where chances have been falling in my favour. But at the time, I was extremely annoyed with the dog, which was about ten feet away from the big picture windows in our room that do nothing to block outside sounds. Apparently Czarek was annoyed too, because his first words to me this morning, delivered with a smile, were not "Good Morning," but "We need to buy a shotgun for that dog."
- We went to a Valentine's Day benefit concert in Lisewo last night; it was a lot of fun. Met and talked to lots of people. And no alcohol whatsoever was involved, which helped reassure me that it really is just me that is the cause of my happiness. With help, of course, but happiness is usually self-inflicted. We also watched Love Actually while we were there - O! what a movie! Beautiful soundtrack, great cast, kick-ass writing - it's a great movie with something for everybody which I think you all should see. Having only seen Liam Neeson in The Phantom Menace, I wasn't aware he was so versatile.
- I'm hearing ads for Polish Idol. Yep, they use the same canned music byte. Branded worldwide, Idol is.
- I. Love. This. Place.
That is all. =)