Friday, October 23, 2009

Sunday 10/4: Mass and Bus Rush

Even though I didn't go to sleep until past five, my body woke up before nine. We got dressed in the cleanest clothes we could find, and walked to mass at the cathedral. Earlier in the week, we watched a concert here and the church seemed like something of a tourist draw. Now it was filled with devout church-goers. I have never attended mass before, so all the standup-sitdown surprised me a bit. But it kept me awake, which I think might be the intention. I didn't understand a word, since the service was in Polish, but the music was beautiful. The choir and the giant pipe organ resonated through the church, stirring up souls to repentance (I assume). At one point, the guy at the pulpit must have instructed everybody to meet their neighbors, because the wrinkled grandmas and grandpas in the row in from of us turned around and gave us the biggest smiles. I may not agree with everything their church teaches, but I do agree with people who are doing their best to be their best.

We spent the most of the day tired and ready to go home. On Sundays, a market fills the square in front of the hostel, so we burned some time poking around there. There were booths of fresh produce, clothes, antiques, junk, and old books. I bought a beautiful old book from the same stand earlier in the week, but it was still my favorite to dig through. We ate our favorite french-bread pizza (for the fourth? time that week) and I took a nap at the hostel. Our beds were already made for the next guests, so Andy let me crash in his.

I woke up with just enough time to grab my bag, and we headed out the door for the bus station. One of the front desk girls showed us how to get there on a map, but she couldn't get any more specific than saying that the bus and train stations were next to each other and that a shuttle bus to the airport would be waiting. We set off walking, and realized that the bus station was much farther than we anticipated, and we had no extra time to compensate. We broke into a fierce power-walk, taking turns carrying the two bags. Our bus was scheduled to leave at exactly 5:00, and we were afraid that if it was a big charter bus on a schedule then it wouldn't wait for us if we were late. With five minutes left on the clock, we found the bus/train station. We had a sticky note from the hostel, who arranged our reservation, but it just said "Bus Station, Platform 15&16, 17:00." We couldn't see platforms anywhere and started to sweat. I showed a woman working at a stand our sticky-note but she spoke no English and just brushed us off. We were all sweating, stressed, and grumpy. We had no idea where to go and our bus was leaving any minute. If we missed our bus, we would most likely miss our plane. If we missed our plane, the next one wouldn't be until tomorrow, and then we would miss a day of teaching. If we missed a day of teaching, we would be dead meat. I accosted the next person who walked by, "Excuse me, do you speak any English?" The boy, about our age, replied with "A little," so I showed him our sticky-note and asked him if he knew where our platform was. He looked at it and said, "Oh, you're looking for the bus station. This is the train station." Please visualize four girls with looks of utmost horror on their faces. Time was nearly gone. We still hadn't paid for the bus nor had tickets of any kind. Only a sticky-note from the hostel and a promise that our names were on some reservation list. We frantically mumbled something, asking if he could give us directions to the bus station. Instead of just pointing the way or explaining, he personally marched us across the train station, through crowds, outside, to the adjoining bus station, and then showed us exactly where we needed to be. We made it to the shuttle exactly on time, and had the whole van to ourselves. We never found out that boy's name, but he went above and beyond the call of duty and saved our foolish skins. Yet another person on this trip helping to restore my faith in humanity.

We made it to our flight on time, and Ukraine even let us back in the country. The passport inspection lines, which were such a nightmare when we came from America, were uncrowded and took less time than it took to fill out the forms. A shuttle bus was waiting right outside the airport, and dumped us off right exactly where we needed to be. The metro shuts down at midnight, so I called my host mom and told her that I was back safe and would be sleeping over at Jessica's apartment. We walked into her apartment tired and starving, but Jessica's roommate, Jo, had a homemade cake waiting for us. The three of us ate the entire cake in one sitting, and slept in till noon.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alena,
    Great blog! Your mother gave me the url and told me to check out your travels. Great narrative, even better pictures and lots of fun I'm sure. Enjoy! Bro. Anderson


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