Thursday, 28 October 2004

The Children of Chudobczyce

Last Monday I travelled backwards in time.

I slipped through a crevice in the space-time continuum and found myself in a long forgotten place inhabited by long forgotten people.

A place called Chudobczyce...

On Saturday I left behind the comfort of Nathan's Villa and the hustle and bustle of Warsaw and travelled to a small city called Poznan.

Poznan is a beautiful city. My guide for the two days I was there was a Polish girl called Dominika. On Monday I left Poznan and boarded my time-machine - in this case a small Polish bus - and began to make my way through the villages and countryside of Poland.

Civilisation fell watch began spinning wildly in the wrong direction...the crows feet around these blue eyes began to fade...memories cartwheeled through my mind and a multitude of faces danced their way across my brain as the bus wound its way down winding roads and past wizened trees.

Eventually the bus came to a stop and I got off, backpack in tow. A German girl came bounding up to me. "Are you Andrew?" she enquired. I replied that I was, because anything else would have been a lie. My journey was at an end. I had arrived in Chudobczyce...

Chudobczyce is a small village with a population of about 170. Life has changed little since the collapse of Communism, or indeed since the collapse of the Roman Empire. Cars and mobile phones, and indeed Englishmen, are not a common sight here.

Chudobczyce is home to a project called Barka, which helps recovering alcoholics and homeless people. It's also home to a Spanish girl called Berta, her boyfriend Mariusz (who I like immensely) and Linda, the German girl who met me at the bus stop.

Berta has dedicated the last year and a half of her life to helping the children of Chudobczyce...a noble task, giving up all of the luxuries that we take for granted to help the children of a forgotten village.

I like these kids. They're sweet. I've spent the last days playing and chasing them - or being chased by them - and I think (or hope) I've managed to connect with many of the youngsters.

Shortly after my arrival on Monday I went to explore a nearby forest, where I promptly got lost. I had visions of being eaten by a bear (a rabid bear recently attacked and killed two people in Romania) and it was up to the children and Linda and Berta to come to my rescue.

But that and one other incident aside, I've really enjoyed my three days in this funny little place.

I came here to meet the children, and Linda and Berta, and to decide if I want to return here early next year. But as much as I've enjoyed these last three days, there's one thing that I hate about Chudobczyce, one thing that I truly despise: the flies.

Chudobczyce is home to millions, possibly billions, of these big, black, buzzing creatures. And they're adventurous little things - they like to explore your soup, your hair, the odd nostril and one or two other orifices - but we won't go into that (or them) here.

On my first night I discovered dozens of the little monsters living around the window in my room so I decided to zap them with a can of Raid. Big mistake.

It was like something out of a Stephen King novel. They started attacking me and dive bombing everything in sight, including my head, so I got out of there pretty sharpish, taking my mattress with me, and set up camp in the kitchen.

But the flies followed me and were soon dive bombing me in the kitchen. Enough was enough, I was not lord of the flies. I retreated outside of the my room and slept in the hallway, where I was awoken some hours later by a drunk man who was kicking me in the head.

But as I wrote, imaginery bears and flies aside, I have really enjoyed my time in this long forgotten place and I hope one day to return. I'll just remember to bring a bigger can of Raid...

And now it's time to board my time machine and head back to civilisation. My bus leaves in an hour from now. It will take me back to Poznan where I will board a train for Warsaw. Once I'm in Warsaw I will catch a train that will again take me backwards in time to the long forgotten country of Belarus.

Until my next entry, from within the USSR, it's time for me to say goodbye to Dominika, Berta, Mariusz, the children and the flies, and time for me to prepare for the long journey ahead.

Goodbye from Chudobczyce...

Back to Civilisation.

From the memory box of a Professional Englishman.

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London, ENGLAND, United Kingdom
This is me. Read a few entries and they will tell you more about me than I can fit into these few paragraphs. Many of these entries started their lives as mass emails. That was before I discovered blogs. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for visiting my blog and reading about my life. Both a work in progress.