I’m standing by the side of a busy Krakow road with little sleep and getting drizzled on. Nobody is stopping. They need to hurry up as well because I want to be out of the country before a certain special lady receives a bunch of thirteen yellow roses with red tips. Yes I know it’s a stupid thing to do and totally pointless but it’s one last shot across the port bow. I don’t really know what I was hoping to achieve, but I didn’t want to hang around to tempt myself any further into melancholy.
I was about to throw in the towel having convinced myself I wasn’t in a good spot, when I spy someone leaning out of his car door. “Where do you want to go?” he asks in good English. “Rabka” comes my response, to which he replies he can take me to within a few kilometers before he goes to work. Big win.
An hour or so later and we’ve driven well past the original dropping point, fallen into spirited conversation and this hero of a man is going well beyond the call of duty. He’s eventually deposited me at a small town a few miles from the Slovak border, in a great spot to grab a second ride. Sir, I salute you; the world needs more people who share your generosity.
I’m in the charming mountain town of Bukowina Tatrzanska, which I can’t actually see much of as it’s getting dark. With the fading light brings the chill, but I’m good spirits regardless thanks to probably the most remarkable hitch to date. I give the roadside an hour or so before deciding to call it a night. It’s a little too quiet here to have success, but with plenty of accomodation on offer, I opt to bed down in alpine chalet digs. I’m the only guest, and for around four pounds I’m treated like a king, with a cosy room, a hearty meal, and Polish vodka with the sozzled landlord who doesn’t speak a word of my mother tongue.
“No kompuuterr!” He demands as he closes my laptop lid and thrusts me a drink.
“I wouldn’t understand him even if he spoke English right now!” I laugh sometime later to the little Polish waitress who can speak a little. “He say’s he doesn’t even understand himself” she translates back, his aging, pockety face glowing red with the booze, grinning from ear to crumpled ear. Every time he mumbles a comment I don’t understand, he raises his half empty glass to cheers mine. Who needs to understand another language? A filthy hand with signs of work, wear and tear is extended as I bid good evening, with dirt under overlong fingernails. I shake it warmly. I was blessed tonight in seeing a side of travel not many are graced with, and thankful that such hospitality and kindness still exists in the world. People are good. People are good.