Day 12: 8th August
Eish – I am losing track of time. I have to try and count on my fingers how many days and just where the hell am I. If it is Tuesday - it must be Belgium. No it is not. It is the Czech Republic and after SSS, it takes a mere three hours to pack up.
This whole amazing construction mounted on roller with no name attracts a crowd and thunderous applause as they take photos and post them on Facebook - 'Check out this fucking idiot - it is amazing he still alive or not arrested!'
I need to look at the map very carefully as I struggle to comprehend that I must be insane and why am I torturing myself? I pop my pill and smile - this is unquestionably the best time I have had in years.
I bid farewell to my motor heads, who are so sweet. The owner took kids around on the trike. They screeched with delight. Then all his pals insisted I park up next to his mighty machine and we made revs. (The video is on FB TGK – please join, you are missing loads of extras).
And so, I hit the road, and, it was rather uneventful, nice scenery etc until... somehow...
Down there is where I do not belong
And up there is bad news...
I AM ON THE BLOODY MOTORWAY again, and crapping myself. Eish, trucks, cars, blaring horns, waving wagging fingers out the window. I see visions of flashing blue lights in my tiny side mirrors. I would not hear the yowling of sirens because I was (was) so chilled, I had the MP3 player blasting away with America's greatest hits Part 2. This includes the track 'If I can make it to the border'.
I had an awful feeling I might make it into either a hospital bed or a police cell or a morgue or all three.
Did I shit? Oh yes. I took, 10 clicks later, the first exit - promptly stopped the roller (which had been at full throttle) and vomited all over the grass. Like hell I did. I removed my helmet, rolled a fag, and saw yet again a strange shape with wings going up to hide behind some clouds.
I had a problem with what the map said was a village but actually huge cities! The west was here also, no Penny Markt, but Lidle and Kaufland. I just wanted out. Traffic was heavy, the roads, well, they are still fixing them.
Once, I had to cross a pontoon bridge. They had stripped the tarmac ready for a new layer. The problem was that it was riddled with ridges, and the scooter was a nightmare to hold onto the 'road'.
And trucks!!! One nearly wiped me out as I desperately tried to hold the line. Listen hey – they don't need a zero tolerance for drink driving, you would not last a minute here – as I spotted from all the crosses and mini alters just about every 5 clicks on the side of the road.
The problem is the road directions are confusing
Stopping for a cup of china, in some dump, I spotted this
I had parked up at the border and used my German card for some Slotties. Such a strange name for a currency. Well, it seems you can slot four for one euro. I have not a clue what this will buy. Maybe a bribe if the Polish Police stop me.
I had refilled earlier. Now, heading towards Krackow, at 4.00pm, with over 100 clicks behind me, I needed a bed of some sorts – as in camping site.
The scooter is happily brumming away. Still no signs for anything besides... the worlds largest car scrap dealers. Hard to fathom. I think I drove 10 clicks or more and both sides of the road were just full of neatly stacked bits of cars! A street of scrap. Name a car, need a door, bonnet, tyre, boot...thousands of them. This was a street with a name . Scrap, Crap Street, which in Polish is...
I am not really panicking but my arse was a bit sore, and 150 clicks on the tiny roller is hard work...and then – whilst I keep a wary eye for the sign depicting a tent – the guardian angel swoops down and opens my eyes to a sign. A SIGN – Jesus Christ, I see the light – yeah hardly, I nearly crashed the scooter as suddenly the name of some small back arse town rang a bell – plus the massive announcement was hardly one to miss -
HERE IS THE CITY OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
Now, being a clever sixpence, if his late Holyness came from this joint, there has to be plenty of idiots wandering around flogging themselves with rent 'a hire shamboks and miniature crosses'. I have seen all that bollocks just down the road from where I live – Alt Otting. Old Rotting more likely. My, those sharks take the punters to the cleaners with their Catholic crap. Although, trade did drop off a bit when Ratzinger threw in the towel. All well and good chanting 'Pope from here and now Pope has done a runner.`Well, well hey. Fancy that! As if I care.
The way I saw it, with JP 2 kicking his first breath here, there just has to be a stable for Mary and Joseph. Actually, me and scooter with no name. So I parked up. Is not hard to suss out where to go. All you do is follow the souvenir shops. As you wander towards the main plaza, the price of the crap goes up.
I find the 'I' for information. Holy my rollie, as I roll one, it is packed with dozens with the faithful from every corner of the planet. I manage to explain to a scary bald headed bloke in charge of the joint, answering all questions in about 14 languages, that I am looking for a camp site.
Well, after a lot of interruptions from the dumb ass peasants paying a fortune to check out the plaza with a church (I can hardly describe what was going on), the bloke sends me to the holy camp site after phoning them. HUH! Cool, it is like rocking up at heavens door, except, me thinks, the place (down the drag four clicks), would be crammed with candle burners and cross staggerers – the joint is totally empty.
Hmm, my Jewish blood surged, what a waste hey. Instead of 'Camping' as a sign, put up 'J-P 2 slept here as a nipper.' and the bucks roll in. But as I rock up, there is a bunch of wild boys booking into the chalets.
So, busting for a piss, I hand over the passport, and I am told it will cost four quid a night. Holy bucks hey. If the fact that they have no internet; I could retire here.
Outside the camp site (a mere 20 second drunken crawl) is all you need. Cheap booze and food. Sorted.
So I leisurely make my home.
When I was almost finished, the yobs show up at the communal sit around and grill. The one lunatic is hacking wood up with an axe. I watched with horror. One misplaced blow and he chops his own hand off. Just for a joke I went over to the eight of them (all lads, early 30s), and presented my mini First Aid kit.
Well, did they laugh or what, plus they had seen me arrive with my overloaded beast. It turns out they were on a bachelor party and all of a sudden – I am guest of honour. I had bought some holy steak in holy square - not bad, rib eye for 1.50 euro, and at Lidl had picked up a small potato salad, (and almost passed out with fright. The road Number 28, is heavy with traffic. I have my blinker on and need to cross over and turn left onto the main drag. AND, oh help me guardian angel, at that moment the cops turn up blinking to turn into the supermarket. Well, they did a good looky at me and roller packed to the proverbial hilt. I was creaming my unwashed jocks big time. They turn in, I turn out and look in the mirrors, expecting them any moment to give the good old flashing blue light and wailing noise...nothing), so, they had a grill going, I was the royalty, and ...erm
They like VODKA. Bottles of it. I had the most amazing party. The bloke who was chopping the wood is nicknamed 'Butterfly', not sure why, but he had mouth only equalled to mine, and...German is not spoken here. English is the second language, and how we laughed. The groom received his presents. Two boxes that took two men to carry them.
Crazy shit. The boxes were full of weights.
But I can lift them - with a little help from my friends...
I cannot recall when 20 shots of VODKA later, I managed to find my bed.
Day 13: 9th August
I awoke around about … no idea. I didn't really have a hangover because I was still pissed. Everything was a bit of a blur. All I can work out is I need to find internet. The roaming on the stupid smart phone does not work.
Totally off my trolley, I had shower and with roller with no name totally enlightened, I stupidly headed back to the holy place. I mean, there must be internet there - even maybe a direct connection to God.
I was dressed to kill. T shirt and shorts of my Boss's firm. But the whole place is just one huge rip off. I park my roller, wander to the square. It is full of clowns crossing themselves, touching bronze statues whilst anointing themselves with the trickling water that pumps quietly over JP 2 s feet.
Stupid – Oh so stupid. These people are fools. Simple minded in a belief. Idiots- strange, I see no signs to tell me how to get to Auschwitz. It is not far. I gather JP 2 actually had the decency to rock up at the place. So kind of him hey. I think they made the so called 'Nazi Pope', (he made a deal. The corrupt waster – I no see – you no invade the Vatican), a god damn Saint!
And I am here, just 50 clicks away from the place. So the trains full off Jews must have rolled by this city. I feel it. It is here. Death. German is not spoken here. JP 2 must have known. Yeah, stuff him and all the religious shit.
In the plaza, still a little woozey, I get conned. I order an ice coffee. Yeah, Jesus prices hey, and ask if they have WiFi. Yes they do. Until I get the drink and told sorry, no WiFi.
In fact, of all the places I have been to in the last two weeks- here, I am frightened. I have no fear of the people, they are the best and friendliest – but I feel something. Anyone who has read 'Simply the Pest', will know I am not religious, but why must I go to that camp? Camp – yeah, I gathered it took over 50 hectares of land and nearly two million people were murdered there. As Goebels said, 'A hundred dead is a tragedy, a million is only a statistic.'
All around is crap for sale. In the plaza, the highest price for some shite pic of JP 2 and as you wander back to the roller, the shit is half price. I just want to vomit. Yeah, Jesus, where are you with your whip in the temple? Believe me, if this town hadn't got a Pope, it would just be another tiny, unnoticed dot on the map. There is nothing here. But wow, how to milk the holy cow – and the idiots spunk massive dosh for the shite. Since when you have to pay entry to a church!!!
Ahh. I eventually get WiFi. Upload a couple of videos and stuff for FB. I order a cup of china at four euros a pop and all I want is OUT of this disgusting place. God is not here - just money. So many people from all over the world, just being bled dry...for what? Of course I have pictures. I have to show the world- DO NOT BOTHER coming here.
That night Butterfly and co are having party day number two. One chap spoke very good English. He had worked in a scrapyard in Ipswich for four years. He explained,by living on almost nothing, he saved enough to buy a house in Poland. RESPECT..
And, he hated the UK, hated the beer, hated their attitude to foreigners, and is delighted to be back at home. But to them as a Rhodesian, they haven't the foggiest notion of putting me in any kind of catorgary. I am neutral. Being a Rhodesian I find that I am not just only neutral, I am welcome.
Day 14: 10th August.
I awoke a little hungover and now faced a dilemma. I had planned to meet up with Darek, a bloke that bought loads of my stuff from Ebay a couple of years ago. I had given him a ring but he said he would only be back in Krakow on Wednesday night, the 13th. Hmmm I need to make a plan, but before one can find its way through a haze of caffeine mixed with the last of the vodka, another crowd pitch up.
Well, the usual happens. Where you from, where you going, all in a mixture of sign language, a bit of English and German. All best friends as the beer flows so of course the day is cancelled.
Day 15: 11th August – It is Monday
And tell me why I don't like them? Because that night the heavens opened and it does not stop.
There is no need to make a plan. It is blasting down. The tent stays waterproof but soon everything is damp. A few crawls away is a supermarket and the restaurant where I eat. I set up the Notebook to write but within minutes I am interupted (there is an open shelter with benches) and it does not take long before the beer and vodka flows. The people (all Polish) are of course on holiday here.
There is a young couple who plan to cook some sort of stew on the grill in a stone fireplace at the end of the shelter. I am invited. They use my extension socket and plug in a portable beat box. It pounds out heavy metal Polish. The young father (two lovely girls) is getting extremly drunk to the point of dropping bottles of beer onto the floor, shattering glass everywhere. The noise is disturbing me big time. I pack up my stuff, (notebook and rucksack), but them in my tent, grab mymoney belt and head for the restaurant for some peace and quite and some food.
It was to be a huge mistake...
As I nosh away outside (seating and tables covered by huge umbrellas), a rather boisterous crowd of young men in their mid twenties soon latch onto me. One of them spoke fluent English with, of all things, a Manchester accent! He happens to like the UK. I cannot recall what he had been doing there but intended to return asap.
Now, this is where I start having a problem. We all became great chinas, took photos, all sitting around having a laugh. I had stupidly taken my money belt off because of its clumsy bulk whilst sitting and eating. At some late point, I went to the toilet. I came back, and through a rather murky world (I might have had a beer spiked), noticed the belt was gone. Check mate. At some time the drunk young man from the camping site had turned up looking for me, droppedmore glass bottles, stirred aggro, but he went. Now I am frantically looking and asking what appeared to be a rather thinner crowd if anyone had seen the belt.
It had been stolen by one of them. Now I was well and truly fucked and one of the restaurant staff called the police. They rocked up 30 mins later. Not a lot they could do really. I was told to turn up for an interview the next day at 8.00am.
Day 16: 12th August.
I awoke, and the panic attacks hit me. Not only that, my pills were in the pouch. I took a massive risk and drove down. Normally I kept the keys in the pouch but obviously in some stupor I had left them in the ignition! I was trembling and shaking all over. They had arranged a translator for me. A nice enough bloke but the stench of his breath made me often go to the toilet to dry retch.
The sorry story? Passport, two bank cards, one credit card, health insurance card, Rhodie driving license, 80 euro, 1800 kronur (about another 80 euro) and a bit of Polish kronur. Still, I suppose I was a bitlucky. I had photocopies of the lot (not the cash of course).
With no internet and my nerves in bits, I text my ex, Daniela to send money via Western Union.
In the town of John Paul Part Two, was the utter stupidity of the staff in whatever bank I went to. (and for some strange reasons the banks outnumber the pubs and the queues are longer than an average bar multiplied by three).
Explain the hassle - show them police protocol, and tell them the story and could Danny simply wire via Western Union to one of their staff. It takes a couple of hours and job done.
Then you hit the classic 'Humba', one finger in nostril, one digit up bumhole." I speak Manager."
Manager come. me say, "Pretend you my china ekse and get money for me."
"Ah not possible, I not know you."
"Ah not possible, I not know you."
Me say - "You see that flag pole outside your building? How thick do you think it is, because your head is at least four times its diameter? You dumb fuck!"
Back at camp, the owners and another couple. Rafai and Ania The bloke with 'Fuck the police tattoo' and his babe) try to help, but the language barrier is a problem. In the end we work out I get Danny to send the money to the woman who owns the joint. Sadly she writes her name with Polish funny things like tails, I send it all wrong.
We rock up at the bank just before it closes. Well,5 banks later. They find it on the computer, everything is correct but for two letters spelling mistake. No money. Resend. Danny is not impressed. Still, the fact that they now know there will be money, the owner gives me a bit of credit. I go to bed, without eating or drinking. Oh, the lady, after much hassle, managed to get me replacement pills.
At enormous cost I used my German mobile phone to phone the UK and cancel my cards. They did tell me they have not been used. Also, phoning the UK embassy in Warsaw was about as helpful as asking the street beggar for a loan. Pop up, and maybe we can help. Sure I said, no money, no petrol and 300 odd clicks away. Thanks but no thanks. Twats!
Day 17: 13th August.
It rained all night. Was still raining when I got up and made myself some coffee. Danny had sent a text that she had corrected my mistakes and the dosh is ready to pick up. We all pile down to town. It takes one hour, 30 pieces of printed bullshit later to finally get 150 euros!!!
With the weather clearing a bit and it was already mid day, I had made my decision. It was time to start heading back via Prague the next day where I had to go to the Embassy there and tell them about the stolen passport and get some temporary I.D.
But – with a hole in the sky for a change, I hopped on the unloaded scooter and went off...
(To be continued in next posting)