Sunday, October 25, 2009


Over the weekend the plan was to drive to see the city of Tarnów, which was where Kaśka, Michał and Ania grew up, and visit their parents – Ciocia Maika [sister to Ciocia Zosia] and my Wujek.

It took us almost 2.5 hours to get to Tarnów, but I doubt that it was really that far of a trip – it is impossible to compare distances by time in relation to American standards [ it is actually a very common trait for us Americans to measure distances by time from what I have heard]. Kaśka would frequently complain about the frustrating “Polish roads” [whenever we hit a bump on the scooter, she would just yell into the wind whipping by - Polish Road!]. I would tell her that Michigan wasn’t that great either – but I realized during the drive to Tarnów she wasn’t just talking about the cement – the traffic was absolutely terrible. There was no “highway” which Kaśka would fondly reminisce from her trip to the states. There was simply a two or three lane road, and a huge line of bumper to bumper traffic just leaving the city of Kraków.

[ Polish Road! ]

We were laughing because on the news the day before, there was a pretty well publicized story of a man that used his farm property and made a pass-way through it and would charge 2 złoty to each car in traffic – if you have 200 cars pass a day, 400 złoty… about 125 bucks. The controversy was whether it was legal or not – Kaśka joked that the situation was “definitely Polish,” but it definitely was reasonable, since some off-roading could potentially save hours of time on the densly packed roads!

Kraków is not necessarily a big city – but in the spectrum of Poland, its great churches, castle, market square and scenic streets make it seem very grand. From this Polish answer to a big city to Tarnów, I saw the changes in atmosphere to a smaller Polish city. Arriving at Michał and Kaśka’s old home, I was greeted at the door with big hugs from Ciocia and Wujek – Witam Krzysiu! Welcome – it was as if this visit was 19 years overdue, but it is true, this was my first time visiting someone from the long list of family here in Poland!

[ Making Szarlotka - Apple Cake - mmm, comforts of home ! ]

Sitting around the table with a cup of coffee, my Ciocia and Wujek and I tried to talk and surprisingly held good conversation – speaking for the fact that I can’t string a sentence in Polish together anymore for the life of me, just throwing some words together ungrammatically, but I can generally understand what is spoken around me, and I think the same goes for my Aunt and Uncle.

Krzysiu, your face is just like your mother’s

[ complement? They were smiling, so I think yes ;] ]

The tiny narrow streets outside, glowing with lamplight and lined with the legendary, matchcar-like yugo beaters, the setting was definitely new and different, but sitting at the table, laughing, rapid polish around me, complete with some good polish food, everything was oddly familiar. It was a setting similar to what I have grown up with and made me feel even more at home and with family – even with faces I had only known for minutes.

After a quick kolacje [supper] we were going to go and check out the old market square and some other views of Tarnów. Before we went however, we had to call Babcia up and say hello –

Hey Babcia! Guess where I am! Tarnów.

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