One train. L'viv to Krakow. Perfect. No crazy town of Chop in which to disembark with fear. No hidden fees or problems foreseen. Or so we believed until the conductors and engineers started a pick-up game of bumper trains. I awoke and momentarily thought I was in a suspended metal ball, hanging at the end of one of those Issac Newton action/reaction demonstrators. This continued for about two hours at the border, as the train workers lifted and suspended train cars for examination and repairs. I'm glad they waited until there were people on the train to do this essential task. With the beautiful day outside and all the winking engineers, I could have enjoyed this time to relax, except for the fact that they locked the bathrooms to avoid workers getting a dirty shower below.
At this point in our travels, it doesn't even matter to me where we are. All I need is to feel safe, clean, settled and well-nourished. There's only so much bread and corn nuts a person can eat before they start loathing the stuff. As we stepped off the train, a hostel ad magically appeared in front of us, soliciting all the essentials we need and all the free additions we salivate for. It was called Hocus Pocus (the pun was intended). It was here that we nested in bliss for two days with bellies full of perogis and bigosz, minds enriched by local scenery and life, eyes entertained by nightly Euro Cup matches from the comforts of our personal living room.
Garrett's departure date from the continent was veering closer, and unfortunately our last shared day together was on that of our most intense and depressing experience. Let me begin this excerpt by saying how much I find Hitler repulsive. It's difficult to grasp your own dislike of a past figure, such as Saddam or Mussolini, until you are in the presence of their work.
I'd rather not describe in too much detail how I felt touring Auschwitz, because I am beginning to re-experience the depression and sickness I felt that day. With our tour guide narrating the dreaded details at each turn, my skin began feeling foreign to me, like it could do nothing and I was completely helpless and feeble. I realized my view on the human condition was limited to all but utter evil, and I suddenly lost all hope of the human race. It was a gorgeous day outside, which molded the thought of the hell hole these people knew into a hard glob I was trying to swallow. I will never return to this or any other concentration camp, because I have fully received the message and learned from the history of others.
Fun fact: Did you know Hitler was a vegetarian out of disgust for the cruel ways they cage and slaughter animals? What a fatally confused man.
We walked slowly and thoughtfully the rest of the day. It was like we attended a mass funeral we were still paying our thoughts and respects to, and, in a way, it was true. Once again, we sought the gastro-delights of Poland to nurse our souls before Garrett loaded his back with gear and left us, for good this time. Later on, we made a toast to the cyanide, bullet, and syphillis that were Hitler's demise. It's grotesque, yes, but some people unravel beyond repair. Cheers.