Let the summer begin

by Evans Yonson

Barcelona – Today begins a feature series of my Eastern European musings and imaginings of everything that happened during my half-a-month travel. This is quite a task ahead but I went prepared and have taken all the possible thoughts ever known to me, myself and my ego. The plan is to present my experiences in a serious manner but most of the time lightly as the vacation was planned to be in the first place. My travel companion is Josephine Pacate, a Filipina ex-scholar who presently teaches in Madrid, Spain. I have known Josephine (aka Jo) since 2005. She has been very instrumental to my life beyond the university residence called Africa in Madrid.

I left Barcelona on the 25th of June for Wroclaw, Poland. It’s the same day I left for the Philippines last year. Life is getting an annual thing for me lately. I went to Madrid this year exactly on the same weekend as last year. Deja vu? Probably yes. And maybe no. Well that’s immaterial now. I met up with Jo in the Girona Airport, about an hour bus-ride away from the city of Barcelona. The flight took us two hours to get to Wroclaw.

We met a Polish mother and son at the airport in Girona. The mother named Maria Theresa looked warm and very caring. If she could only speak English or if only we could speak Polish then our conversation would have been more lively and engaging. Thank goodness for her, Pietr, a travelling musician, for speaking clear and very good English. Pietr showed us how to go about our first Eastern European city. There is something in this mother and son team that made me think about my Nanay. This mother is proud of her kids that no language could ever prevent her from telling what her kids are doing. Pietr plays the guitar. A daughter plays the cello. She plays the piano. They come from a musically inclined family. She told Pietr to invite us for Sunday lunch which the son gladly translated for us. We had to say no. But we really felt the motherly love overflowing inside the bus. As they bade us farewell, I knew then this Eastern European journey will be a good one.

"In the Spring of 1940, on Stalin's orders, 22,00 Polish Army officers, policemen and other prisoners of war were shot in the back of the head in Katyn and other places in Soviet Union." There is always a motherly love everywhere in Wroclaw.

Wroclaw is the fourth largest city in Poland with an estimated population of 600,000. The city is predominantly Roman Catholic. One interesting fact that I am looking forward to is the 2012 UEFA Euro Cup in Wroclaw and Ukraine.

The Hala Ludowa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where infamous people from all over Europe have entered in this historical monument.

I didn’t expect Wroclaw to be warmer than Barcelona and so everyday at around 3pm I would ask Jo that we go back to the hostel and take a nap. I tell you it’s really tiring to move around when it is so scorchingly hot.

Europeans are so sun/tan hungry so they love the heat of the sun. It turns them a bit browner. Just a bit. But not me.

One of those things that I notice immediately is how the statues in Wroclaw were gigantic and they all evoke anger, strength and power. Like they were all gonna move and smash my body into some ash. They are always portrayed as carrying the building like the columns of Acropolis in Athens.

There is really something about these statues that makes me want to read more about Eastern Europe.

Sometimes feelings are carved eternally in stone. But nothing beats the real emotions felt right there and then. You feel the love immediately. You feel the heat. You feel warmth. You feel the sun. After all, it’s summertime in this part of the world. So, let the summer begin!