The Second Week

Just like the previous Thursday, April 24, this Thursday, May 1st, I woke up at 10am. The car was ready. What wasn’t ready was my anxiety for driving the car for more than 300 km for the very first time.

The bags were packed since last night. I leave the room and go wash my face. I tell Tomek everything’s ready. We eat something and soon I have to leave. Not without give a hug in Krisztina. Grzegorz I gave a hug before he leaves for his training. Both, besides the initial shyness, liked the hugs – I think so.

Before I leave, Krisztina asks me to take a Picture with me – as if it was needed to ask such thing. We go down and Tomek takes a few more pictures with me and comments “You know how my mother is, she liked you and wants some pictures of you in the car”. I smile and make some scary faces, like if I was suffering while driving the Lada. Tomek then goes to his car and I follow him. He would guide me to the road I should take.

We get to the road and he pulls over and gives me the sign to keep going. Our goodbye was a horn from Lubenica and now I was on my own. I take the road and start feeling the car in faster speeds. I get surprised with how stable the car is. Even though it was shaking a lot before, when it’s on cruise speed, it softens a bit.

I tested the engine behaviour while speeding. After all, the car has only four gears and I didn’t want to press the rev pedal too deep and consume a lot of fuel. I noticed that between 80 and 90km/h the engine was dealing fine. Between 2800 rpm while at 70km/h and 3500 at almost 100km/h I’ve done the first 350 km of the trip, between Zabrze and Poznan.

The first half was until Wroclaw, that was a double lane highway. From there I took a one lane road to Poznan. A little break at a gas station for water, bathroom and a check with the map. I bought one in case my phone’s GPS, that isn’t any real GPS garment, fails. It wouldn’t be so hard anyway.

The fuel tank was half full. Small one, only 40l of capacity and I had already rode more than 200 km. Bad fuel consumption also, no more than 9l/100km. As I still had more or less 180 km to cover, I decide to fill up 10l more, just to be sure I would get there.

Everyone in the gas station were surprised to see a Lada and even more surprised when they saw a brown-skinned guy, with big nose and arab face leaving the car. I felt like a not so famous celebrity, that everyone knows the face but can’t remember the name.

I follow my way, this time at this one lane road. Field and more fields of yellow flowers showed up. I was never quite interested in botanic so I have to admit I still don’t know which flower it was – and actually I still don’t care much to know. I only know that the road was quite scenic, calm and nice to drive.

In Leszno, a city 80 km away from Poznan, I stopped the car for a while and called my friend, as we had planned. I put on the GPS where I should go and, even though the signal was lost sometimes, I followed my way. While I was stopped, a kid, not older than 15 years old slapped the car while he was walking with a friend. I looked at him quite angrily and we was in shock when saw my face. I think he thought no one was in the car. Jerk.

One hour later, around 5pm, I was already in Poznan, precisely where I should be. The GPS worked after all.

I stop in a gas station and saw some parked trucks. I park near a Polski Fiat 126, the Maluch, made in Poland during communist times. It was quite popular and nowadays is admired by classic car enthusiasts. It wasn’t in the best shape, but the color was quite similar with my Lubenica.

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Wojciech arrives right away with his friend Marcin. They enter the car, not before make some jokes about it, and we head to the flat. I park, we go up and we start eating something.

It was holiday and the next day would also be. Just like in Brazil, when a holiday is on a Thursday, in Poland they also take the Friday off. So, unfortunately there were no reasons to try to go the city office or to the camera store.

So we had no choice but get some beers and start talking about my trip. Marcin was really interested and asked me more questions than I asked him. He wanted to know all details about life in Brazil and he was really surprised to know how similar we are.

Wojciech wanted to party harder. We didn’t see each other in the past four years and we were party buddies in Lithuania. He wanted to revive those times and soon he brought the vodka.

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Since I moved back to Brazil I didn’t drink vodka in shots. I couldn’t refuse and suddenly I had already three shots. I was already drunk. It was time to go to the city center.

Poznan is the third biggest polish city and one of the most famous places for Erasmus students there. With this nostalgic feeling, Wojciech took us to the official Erasmus party in Poznan. And it didn’t take much time for me to know that the past was somewhere far from me. It was too much hot, crowded and I was drunk and lost. In 20 minutes I couldn’t stand anymore and we left.

I asked to go to a calmer place, without so many foreigners. Then we went to this rock and roll bar. There wasn’t a table for us so we stayed somewhere and kept talking. A couple right next to us overheard about my trip and we started to talk about it. They liked the idea. But their friends, also a couple, didn’t care much. They didn’t talk to us at all.

When I came back from the toilet, I wanted to comment about how cold it was – and it was really cold, -1C for May it’s cold even for them – and I used a word they use simply all the time, “Kurwa” – more or less their “fuck”, but that can be also understood as bitch. I said “kurwa cold night” and the friend of the couple, who didn’t like me since the beginning, stood up, pointed the finger at my face and started to say a lot of bullshits in polish that until now I have no idea what they mean. He was bald and really tall. I was completely speechless and while his friends were taking him by the arms, my friends did the same for me and we left. Unfortunately our time at that bar was over. And maybe I shouldn’t try to know what has happened there. Some things we should better not try to understand.

Back to the street, we decided to go to a last bar before we leave. It was a fancy-but-looking-dirty bar that I am used to see in São Paulo. They pretend to be dirty and cheap but they are actually fancy and expensive. There I told Wojciech I didn’t want to drink anymore but even so he brought me a shot of vodka. I refused it and then he offered to a couple next to him. They started to talk and he came to introduce us. The guy was Indian and started to tell me I was Indian too. I smiled and said I was Brazilian. Then the girl was happy. She was Brazilian too. Now everyone was smiling.

After forty hugs he gave me we could finally leave. On the way a homeless guy came to me to ask for money. I told him I didn’t have anything and that I was just a poor Brazilian. He smiled and asked me in English “communist?” I wanted to play with him and said “yes, I am”. He smiled a smile with a few teeth missing and said he was too. He tried to told me that during communist times he had a job and now he was homeless. I wanted to talk more, but it was really late and we all were quite hungry, cold and tired.

Then, finally, after a week in Europe I could eat my first Kebab. How I missed it. No onions, of course.

The second day was quite useless. We were all with hangover and me even more because of the driving and still trying to get used to their time. After a whole day recovering, a Italian friend, Nicholas, who dates a polish girl and lives in Poznan, calls me inviting me to play bowling with him and some of his friends. We all decide to go and the day ended up nice.

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On Saturday, my friends took me to Gniezno, a city 50 km away from Poznan and that was the first polish capital. Finally a historic and not alcoholic trip.

Pleasant city, small but quite touristic. We went to a history museum and we were invited to attend a 3D movie about the History of the city. I couldn’t understand a word and even see the movie properly due to my strabismus, but it was interesting anyway.

Back to Poznan, Wojciech wanted again to party and invited some friends to come to his flat. One of them, Mateusz, brought a homemade vodka made with plums and that had something like 60% of alcohol. The tragedy was announced. One, tro, three shots. Finally the bottle was over. More friends arrive bringing a new bottle of vodka. We were in more people now, so it was “only” two shots more before we leave.

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Before we leave, Mateusz tells me about his polish motorbike from 1962 and he wanted to show me. Unfortunately he lives in a city a bit far, but I promised him I would try to go there and see it.

On the way to the city center I was quite drunk. I wanted to be nice, but I could have said now. Now it was gone. I just had not drink anything more and soon I would be ok.

In the center, I stop in a kiosk to buy na energy drink. I had to be ok and stay awake until the end, so I needed something to slap my face and put me back on my feet. I leave the kiosk and my friends go to a bar famous for cheap vodka shots with something colorful inside. I refuse to even enter the bar.

Outside, two homeless guys come talk to me. I said sorry but couldn’t speak polish. Then they tell me in English “a cigar please”. I tell them I don’t smoke, but give them some change. They were happy and we started to talk. It was a nice chat, honestly.

While my friends were laughing at me from inside the bar, I was out there, save from drinking more and having na interesting conversation about the life on the streets of Poznan. We said bye and I entered the bar. But just to use the bathroom.

On the street again, my friends decided to go to the same Erasmus bar we went two days ago. I tried to convince them not to go, but they won. At least this time people weren’t hitting me with their elbows like the previous time. But anyway, I wasn’t enjoying too much.

Marcin is missing while Wojciech is on the dance floor trying to find a girl I stay behind, with their friends, Rafal and Ewelina. After more than one hour there, they leave and Marcin is still missing. I go to the dance floor to try to talk to Wojciech and ask him to leave. He says yes and we go to take our coats. His coat was missing. He decided to go back to the dance floor, but I take him by the arm and insist to leave. So we leave. I get up the stairs and when I look back, Wojciech isn’t there. He didn’t go up and went back to the dance floor. I try to go back, but the security guy disallows me. I had to pay a new fee and I had no money left with me.

I go to the street and found Marcin completely lost. He was drunk and got into a fight with the security guy, who kicked him out of the club. He was there simply waiting for us for more than an hour.

I was tired and angry with my friend’s behaviour. I try to call him but he doesn’t pick up the call. I send him some SMS, but he doesn’t reply them. I start to get realy angry. I was really tired, very cold and hungry. Marcin pays me a Kebab and I calm down a little bit, but still with no answers from Wojciech.

After one hour, he finally decides to leave. I was so angry I could have punched him, but that’s completely stupid. He tries to explain me that he went back to try a last time to find his coat, then started to talk to a girl, got her phone and decided to meet the next day. I pretended to be happy with him, but deep inside I was really angry. He pays the taxi on our way back, kind of an “I’m sorry, dude” act.

Sunday is another useless day. Wojciech leaves early – 1pm – to go meet the girl from the night before. I and Marcin stayed in the flat. I take the time to edit the timelapse, write a little bit, calculate the costs so far and use the internet freely. Wojciech comes back in late afternoon and Marcin has to go back to his hometown, nearby Poznan. He gives us a ride to the city center and there we walk around the Warta river’s shore, where there’s a small cultural spot made by old containers. It’s windy and cold and we can’t stay much and soon we went back to the flat. We talked for a while and went to back not so late, after all, Monday was almost there and there were plenty of things to go still.

We woke up early and left to the city office. At the information desk a lady told us the process is quite simple, all we need is the responsible for the flat, owner or who’s renting, proves that I live there and after that the car could be registered on my name. This process wouldn’t take more than 20 minutes, as long as the Head Officer was there. And he wasn’t there right now; he would be only in the next day. She told us to come back the next day. I was happy with that and we left.

He wants to show me his team’s stadium and there we went for a guided tour. The stadium is big, nice and cool. The second biggest of the country. It hosted a few matches in the Eurocup 2012 and is regarded as a motive of pride between the supporters of Lech Poznan.

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Then we went to the câmera shop where I have found the items and prices through internet. Unfortunately almost everything needed to be ordered because they didn’t have them in stock. I make the orders. In Berlin the prices were almost the same, but somehow higher.

We went back to the flat. Lech would play soon, but not on the nice stadium we have been a few hours before. They were going to play in Bydgoszcz. Lech won by 2 x 1 and was closely following the leader, Legia, on the fight for the title.

We drank a few beets, laughed about some stupid polish and brazilian vídeos on youtube and went to back as early as the previous night.

Tuesday starts a little bit later than Monday. We went back to the city office with the Lada and my friend asked to drive it. He has some troubles with the toughness of the steering wheel and the gear pedal and stick, but we arrived alive. We took off the license plates and made the registration. The girl who made the registration, when knew I was Brazilian and the car was being registered on my name, couldn’t hold herself and laughed a little bit. It was too much absurd for her. We three laughed a bit and soon the document was on my hands. The car was officially mine. We changed the license plates and drove to the camera shop to check how the ordering process was.

The camera has arrived, but not the batteries and lenses. I buy the camera, a couple of memory cards and had to keep waiting for the other things.

It was Wojciech’s birthday and we decided to drink a few beers on the river’s shore with some of his friends. Ducks are swimming on the river, a lot of youngsters are drinking and having fun. But as he had to work the next day quite early, we didn’t take long to go back to the flat.

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I got the feeling that birthdays are quite calm around there. So calm that they don’t even have a proper song to sing on someone’s birthday. It’s just “happy birthday” and “I wish you to live a hundred years more”. I found it a bit disappointing.

The next day Wojciech leaves early and I stay sleeping in the flat. I decide to clean the flat, after all, I had plenty of time and I had to pay back somehow all what Wojciech was doing to me. I also use the internet to check on another stores for prices of lenses and all the stuff I was still waiting for. I found that maybe a store could have one of the lenses I needed and I call my friend. He tells me to go meet him at the restaurant he’s working, so we could go together after he leaves his job.

I arrive at the restaurant and it’s quite fancy. He brings me some toasts with roast beef and ruculus. Even though I don’t live ruculus, I eat it anyway and it was quite good. After that, we leave and go to the shop, on a distant shopping center, and there we found out there were no lenses. I buy then some UV filters and a monopod. On the way back we crossed the Warta Poznan’s stadium, the second team of the city. A small stadium for a small club that only became famous lately due to the fact that its former chairwoman is a celebrity in the country, also a former Playboy cover. The team got the chauvinist alias of “the football club with the hottest president”.

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We go back to the flat and rest a bit. I take my time to pack my things, in hope the store would call me soon and tell me the things had arrived. They didn’t call.

The evening has come and it would be probably my last night in Poland. I ask Wojciech to go to the city center to have a couple of beers. I couldn’t go without say goodbye. I had ups and downs, but it had been two very intense weeks. I hadn’t even officially started the trip and I was already feeling like a completely new person. So many people supporting me, helping me and believing on me and on my idea. And so far it was only an idea, nothing really was done.

At this moment I will leave you and get dressed to go and say goodbye to Poland. Tomorrow everything restarts. A new country, new language and finally the trip itself will start. See you soon.

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