We’ve been holed up in a university dormitory in Gdansk, Poland, for the past four days. Pretty basic facilities, but they did the job. Here are the pluses: There was a little fridge so we could store milk, cheese, and yogurt for our breakfasts. There were two big windows that allowed air movement to dry our clothes after handwashing them in the shower stall. And the building was secure – we had to show an ID card at the front door before the receptionist would electronically open it so we could enter.
Here are the challenges: A toilet that refused to flush properly and then decided to leak. It grew worse by the day, leaving the bathroom floor wet. Yesterday I mopped it four times in an effort to keep it as clean as possible. And oh yeah, there was the pub located at the end of our hallway, about four doors down. The patrons obviously like loud music…until 2 or 3 a.m. I bought sleeping pills after the first night – a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do to get her beauty sleep.
We spent the majority of our time preparing for the upcoming evangelistic family camp. Besides teaching an English class and Bible study each morning, we’ll also be teaching five parenting workshops. Bless his heart, Gene collected material for the latter before we left Canada because I was swamped with writing two more chapters under deadline for my next book proposal. Now it was my responsibility to organize and edit what he’d done.
Late Friday afternoon, we decided to take a break and head for the beach. Gdansk is located on the Baltic Sea, and its beaches are beautiful. So, we caught a tram and spent about 20 minutes traveling through the city. When we arrived, we took off our shoes and walked along the surf. Lovely! We decided to spend most of the next afternoon there. Things didn’t go as planned!
By the time we finished the day’s work, it was after 1:30 and we still hadn’t eaten lunch. So, we found a little restaurant, grabbed a bite to eat, and then caught the tram. Unfortunately, the sky turned black and a wind came up at the same time. When we arrived at the beach, we were the only people headed for the surf against a tide of about 300-400 leaving the area. Not to be deterred, we spread our towels on the sand and sat down. That lasted about 30 seconds.
Lightning flashed around us, thunder boomed and cracked, and we joined about 60 others under cover as the rain began to fall. Five minutes later, it let up enough for us to try again. That lasted maybe a minute before we once again ran for cover. A third try let us stay on the beach for about 10 minutes before the rain rolled in once more. That’s when we gave up and caught the tram back to the university. We’ll try again on Sunday, we thought. Things didn’t go as planned!
Yesterday dawned with black sky and more rain. We spent most of the day hunkering down in our room, waiting for a break in the weather. When it came, we walked to a huge mall about 30 minutes’ away where we found internet access outside a Kentucky Fried Chicken food booth – no kidding – a KFC.
This is one of the biggest malls I’ve ever seen – three stories of glass-front stores with wares of every description, many of them North American name brands. It’s been only 20 years since Communism fell – how a country could make so much progress in two decades is beyond me. Or…is it progress? Actually, the availability of goods might be a danger to these folks as a materialistic mentality takes hold. We met a Canadian couple on the street and walked with them to the mall – he’s Polish and they’d returned to visit his parents here. The wife looked around the mall and said, “This is absolute nonsense. It’s dangerous for the people – for so long, under Communist rule, they didn’t have material goods available. Now the goods are available and they buy them even though they cannot afford them.”
Well, our train leaves in 25 minutes and we still have to walk to the station lugging our bags. I’ve gotta dash!
I might not have internet access for the next week. If so, it will be quiet on my travel blogs. If not, I’ll do my best to keep you posted about how things are going at the camp!