Somewhere over the rainbow

pampa (1)

Now, you just help us out today, and find yourself a place where you won’t get into any trouble. Some place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It’s not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It’s far, far away. Behind the moon… beyond the rain…

I did not even notice when they began to gather. I was cycling in a barren, monotonous, almost featureless landscape, in which the absence of any visible bends was replaced by the abundance of low perennials called Ombu. It is not unusual to notice in their shades Difunta Correa shrines, surrounded by hundreds of plastic bottles of water.

So, I was pedaling in a sort of seemingly lifeless countryside, being more among gathering dark clouds, sweeping over my head, than on that asphalt-grassy land. That feeling does not have to be intentionally aroused nor even longingly awaited. It appears itself, especially in those places, where, after several hours of cycling, you begin to feel a total sensory deprivation of your senses. So, you lose the sense of reality, which, even on a daily basis, you do not have much anyway, and even if you insist that sometimes you possess some of it – that reality only exists when it is strongly overbuilt by a kind of sleepy-imaginative one.

So, starting for the third time: I was cycling on the pampa, being pushed by a strong wind, but at some point it became strangely dark, far too suddenly and without any warning. I stopped and turned around curiously. Huge, darkening cumulonimbuses were approaching from the south, looking like a corn-shaped tornado, spreading quickly over my head. I had no chance whatsoever to escape from their black, cloudy arms.

A powerful storm was coming fast. It was clear, that it will reach me in less than an hour, but despite of the fact (or maybe I should say vice versa – because of it) that the nearest town was fifty miles away, I was cycling like crazy, putting all my strength on the pedals, hoping that the upcoming storm will not get me anyway.

Not counting Ombu bushes, which now, looking on the horizon, I vainly tried to spot – there is no place to hide on the pampa. I could have set up the tent, watching the electric spectacle in the sky, but something invisible was pushing me forward. I could not stop. It got dark, the first drops of rain fell on my face, the long lightning cut the sky. And then I saw it. Although initially it seemed to me that it was just a mirage. Nevertheless, I stopped and on the night stain of a landscape I tried to distinguish some shapes. Meanwhile, the rain turned into a downpour. Another lightning. A bright, clear outline of the building emerged for a moment in the black background. I went closer. I stood on a run-down atrium. Heavy raindrops were performing their dance macabre on a tin roof. Closed up windows and locked doors left no doubt that the house was abandoned for a long time.

When I was setting up my tent on the creaking boards, I heard a sort of timid barking. I held the light. Two terribly emaciated dogs were standing in the corner of the building and barking silently they were turning their sights out of a strong beam of my flashlight. I began to whistle and talk to them with a calm, warm voice. The dogs finally got silent. When I tried to approach them, they fled. Well, if the animals are here, I thought, maybe someone lives in that house, and maybe the entrance is somewhere else?

I walked along the building, but found neither another door, nor (which seemed to be even more weird) the dogs. I decided to wait with putting my tent up, thinking that someone might show up later. I put on warmer clothes I ate steak bought the previous day. Then I went back on the other side of the house, because it seemed to me that I heard whining. I somehow knew what I would see there, but the image was far more poignant than what I had expected. Two dogs lay curled up, huddled together on a piece of tar paper, looking at me with a deep sight full of ambivalent feelings – curiosity and anxiety, joy and distrust, but above all – boundless grief. They looked at me with a sight, at the bottom of which a glimmer of hope glowed; the hope for something that may not have been what they had expected to encounter, but it still was something, on which they could build the new loyalty and trust.

I brought my stuff and the bicycle closer, and set up the tent in the doghouse. Then I cooked dinner and we ate it together. The dogs ate greedily, wiped the bowl within a few seconds.

Two reddish dogs. Not as red as all those cats I met withing the past months. I was looking for a red-haired cat, and I found two red dogs. But the questions was – why and what for? After all, I was about to leave them soon, early in the morning. Maybe it would have been better for them if I had not eaten dinner with them, if I had not stroked them in the morning and had not allowed them to be licked.

When I was ready to hit the road in the morning, a large dog looked at me with his puzzling eyes. He looked at me with his big, immensely sad eyes in so evidently human way, that I couldn’t bear it and had to turn my sight away, pretending that nothing really is happening yet, that no one leaves, that nothing ends up, even that, in fact, nothing really started.

The small dog escorted me to the street. When we were getting closer, he stopped and started looking anxiously behind his back. He was looking at me, and then at the standing nearby building, which was already bathed in an ambient sunshine.

I sat on the bike and rode away. Then I stopped, took out my camera and through its lens I looked at the small fragment of the abandoned reality. A small, red creature was standing in the same place. He was looking straight at me, but he could not have seen from that distance anything else than a dark spot, rippling over a hot asphalt road.

That day the wind changed its direction.

In the evening I got to the city. I set up my tent in the park. The sky was full of stars. It was warm and the leaves of the trees were rustling in the light wind. The air smelled of grass. Not fully-dreamed dreams were hovering around me. The dreams full of flying birds; birds that never fall asleep, those that dream forever. I waved to them. They came and grabbed me into the sky. They held me by the hand. Their touch was warm and gentle. We were hovering high.

In such an evening, all dreams come true.

Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly, and the dreams that you dreamed of, dreams really do come true.

Welcome a Tijuana

Cordoba i Pampa (10)

Have you ever noticed this peculiarity some people have? It is either the sign of an evil nature or of a profound and lasting sorrow. Mikhail Lermontov

It all started with Marcos. A friendly-looking man came up to me at the gas station where I stopped to rest in a soothing shade. After five minutes of conversation, Marcos offered me accommodation in his house. I did not ask. It happened itself. As soon as we got home I met two girls, Sophie and Amelia and their older brother, who gave me his room for a night.

Firstly, I took an awfully long shower, then I ate even more awfully, exceptionally big steak, and finally, I repaired two small bikes, although the whole “repair” boiled down to adjusting of wheels and brakes and lubricating of the chain. The ominous outcome of fraternization with Sophie and Amelia was already looming on the horizon, although mutual familiarity and stalking were being prolonged almost till midnight. The girls – usually very shy and distrustful of strangers – came on my head (alas, literally again) during an oddly sounding game called Papa Francisco. It’s hard to say what the game was about, and its rules to this day remain to me a mystery. Anyway, the whole mess, noise, and loud running through the rooms ended up very late at night, to mum’s consternation, who did not know whether she could already go to bed, or had to wait patiently until the girls calmed down enough to replace their incessant hiccup with sleepiness and fatigue. In the end, mother was first to resign, then dad, Amelia and the youngest Sophie next, and finally – Peter, myself. Brother had enough much earlier and left the house to see his friend.

I would love to stay longer, but not that time, Moomins do not have wings, they do not take me back to Poland, so I am going further, to the airport, to which I still have a long way to go, but even without closing my eyes, I can see it in front of me, although I try not to think about it. I try not to think about returning home yet.

It’s better to look at the blue sky, to enjoy the sunshine, being happy on the road. I pull the sun behind me. I nearly forgot it. I do not remember the last time when I thought that way. That I pull the sun behind me, that it clung to me ages ago and still does not want to leave. And that I will draw it with me wherever I will get. And that maybe someone sees that sun, or even feels it and that somebody has something from it for themselves. It must be so. That writing and that trip must have some weird, unconscious sense, perceivable even for me, because without any warning, even more unexpectedly than an invitation from Marcos – I suddenly got dough for Argentinean chops.

Neither I wrote anything nor I asked about it. Maybe it is bad that I did not, because it is not fun to walk at the back of supermarkets and pick up (still tasty) stale food. It is not fun to go to a restaurant and ask if you can take some leftovers from the table. When I was a teenager and wanted to be a punk – there was some charm in it. Now, it is not so cool as it used to be. Although you may still ride that way, now I think that’s not the point of getting through the world.

Lukasz Supergan, my Polish friend, following suggestion of Przemek (another Polish buddy) launched the campaign on facebook and now, I am able to buy several pounds of pork chops. With a few exceptions, those people who helped me with their money, were complete strangers. Or maybe not entirely strangers, cause they know me a little, by reading my words, and looking at the photos. Anyway, now I can afford to buy a decent dinner every day till the end of the trip, and finally I am able to change some parts in the bike.

Someone sent me an email in which he said that I write a lot about loneliness, but I’m not cycling alone. That there is power of many people who send warm thoughts in my direction, and that they are that wind themselves. The wind that pushes me forward. I read this email through my wept eyes, because I thought to myself that so many times I already wanted to stop writing. Certainly to stop as soon as I return. To write two, three more entries and that will do. To get rid of that feeling that I write to the wall. That I go in silence. In silence, beyond which there is nothing more than emptiness. And if there is something, it is only the echo of my own thoughts, filled with sorrow and longing, still crossing my mind in my dreams.

I smile. And I am grateful. I smile to everyone. How much grateful I am for that unexpected support, for that wind from the north, for blowing in my back, for all warm thoughts and good words in emails, thanks to all of you. I watch the sunset and weep with joy, because I know that I will bring the sun to Poland. I do not know from where exactly, from Patagonia, or maybe from Mexico. Because if the north wind changes, I will not torture myself. I will get up in the morning, turn my bike and will go to the north. I will go back to Mexico even if I had to go to Tijuana. What’s the difference? Ushuaya, or Tijuana – both sound as if they did not really exist. Just to feel this joy as long as I can, just to feel that wind, which does not want to stop blowing, just to feel the sunshine, and, all in all, fuck it that I will not get where I wanted. It could not materialize anyway. So be it.

Solo le pido a dios

Argentina (10)

Everybody in the world is seeking happiness—and there is one sure way to find it. That is by controlling your thoughts. Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions. D. Carnegie

I sit in a clean, well-kept park, in a town to which I got actually by accident, because I did not mark it on my hand-drawn map. I spread an oddly tasting pate on a slice of bread, eating a slightly rotten tomato, which I found just a minute ago on the street. It somehow happened that I can not afford at the moment to gorge myself with delicacy, but the truth is, that from time to time a human being is forced to eat something. So, I treat a skeletal dog to some bread, and, remaining in an odd symbiosis, we both masticate a chewy slice.

The dog lies down next to me, almost under my feet. It is aware that the feast is over, because I myself have nothing else to eat whatsoever. I feel pleasantly, downright lazy, I want a little nap. My overpowered by fatigue body finally gives up – I do not even try to fight with this engulfing sensation of inertia, with an approaching half-dream. The head falls slowly as a shriveled leaf and freezes on my shoulder, I fall asleep for a while.

An uncomfortable biting wakes me up. Ants are creeping all over me. How on earth are there so many of them in here? I look around if everything is in its place. I can see the bike and the dog. Neither of them had moved an inch. The dog only raised its head when I slowly stood up from a foam pad to shake out the running ants. Small, black creatures collected crumbs of bread. Large lumps, irregular flourish shapes were roaming in one direction on insects’ bodies, forming a gigantic queue to the center of the square. They were being carried high and proudly as they were the spoils of war, or some desirable, deserved trophies. It was evident how herculean effort it costs to raise even one crumb, how much perseverance, stubbornness and strength it entails to drag it over the heads, while falling down upon the smallest obstacles, only to try again and again, laboriously moving forward, regardless of the circumstances, not noticing all those ants, which are left-behind, being trampled to death by some idle passers-by.

And when you sit and look at the ants in the city, which is not even marked on your self-drawn map, the world begins to unfold itself. When surviving ants reach finally their destination, and when some remnants of the siesta are blown away by a light breeze, then the park comes to life, or otherwise – you just start to see that life around. The dogs come first – they sniff, search, sometimes bark offensively, but not too aggressively, ending up playing with some horny representatives of another sex.

Then, a few children come up. Firstly, pretending that you’re not in there – they just play on the side, casting slightly furtive glances, but imperceptibly, step by step, they somehow approach you more and more. They seem to be playing with a ball, throwing it to each other, but it falls too close to you, and always ends up on your head. You just smile, it’s enough, and then, in an instant, the kids inevitably come on your head, literally. Maybe one could behave differently, but I am not capable of it, or maybe I just do not want to change it.

Finally, the parents arrive. They spoil the fun, stare suspiciously. Who is that dirty gringo who takes pictures of their offspring? What intension does he have? He is sure to be a pervert, no doubt about that. Parents rarely come up closer, they rather shout something from a distance, something not quite comprehensible to emphasize that I am different, I am not from here, that I’m just a stray, vagabond creature and nothing else.

Children whine, but finally they go away with their parents. Sometimes it happens that the older kids stay with me. If it does, we sit, slurping some juice from a plastic carton, and for the umpteenth time I tell how, where or why I came there, but eventually even the older children have enough and leave me alone, without dogs, without ants, in silence, to which I am slowly getting used to, even if I would prefer the sounds, even though en tu silencio habita mío, my silence dwelt in your calmness.

It got more civilized around, more clean and green. For days I have cycled with a very strong wind, which allowed me to cover long daily distances. So, who blows, if I cycle in silence? Where is the wind coming from? Why does the sudden thought appear that maybe for the first time in my life I will get somewhere? But yet, I do not want to get anywhere. I keep going not to get anywhere. I just want to see another day. To feel the sunshine. To have something to eat and to find a quiet, safe place to sleep. And to change the world, just for a moment, to change it for the better, simply by having some warm thoughts. Or simply not to worsen it.

Maybe I will pray tonight. Just for a change. I do not know yet to whom, but it is quite irrelevant. Maybe I will not use any words at all, I will use only my thoughts. Maybe it’s enough to pray with your thoughts. Or with your dreams. It might be that the dream will do, and I will be able to keep silence. An unexpected understanding often comes in dreams. That understanding that is lost when you wake up.

Solo le pido a Dios, que el dolor no me sea indiferente, que la reseca muerte no me encuentre, vacio y solo sin haber hecho lo suficiente.

Zoon politikon


All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone. Pascal

Although I would like to stay longer at the rectory, after a few days of recovery, I finally said good-bye to padre Jacinto and his charming Polish and Bolivian friends. Unfortunately, I refused to accept the offer to become the second padre in the Bolivian parish at (almost) dried lake Poopó. The next opportunity will probably not happen again, but I think that offer was not seriously submitted anyway, and, moreover, I’m sure I would not be a good priest at all.

Those few days with a group of Poles had a salutary effect on my nut. I can not remember the last time when I felt so well in the company of, after all, strangers. I took a liking to Jacek so much, that  I nearly suggested him accompanying me on my way. Unfortunately, for that moment our priorities are mutually exclusive, so my proposal of holding an office of a travelling colleague was also rejected, and undoubtedly – taken as a joke.

Regarding health, I feel far less dizzy, even my nosebleed almost ceased, although one morning I caused panic, leaving the bathroom with dried blood on my face. In fact, the whole morning was poor and my body also released another kind of matter, not just from the nose. So I went again to the hospital, but the examination did not reveal anything alarming. I thanked for the drip, and, as usual, I got another set of colored pills on the road.

I greeted familiar emptiness of the salar but I couldn’t find myself in its space. Maybe it happened because of the contrast of that empty landscape with those lively, warm reminiscences of the evenings at the rectory, still disconsolately wandering somewhere among my thoughts. Suddenly I began to get lonely even more. And what can I do with all that autonomy in the desert, what with all that self-sufficiency, liberation from unfamiliar ways of thinking, from measurements and assessments of other people? Suddenly I felt like a typical zoon politikon – a stranger in his own world, who breaks for the presence of another human being.

Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.” Aristotle, Politics

People are afraid of loneliness and isolation. This fear of becoming with themselves, without a rhythm of the music, without the sounds of any noise, is a characteristic feature of the present. Peace and silence cause immediate sense of emptiness, boredom, anxiety. Because the most of contemporaries have nothing to say to themselves. Jan Szczepanski

Maybe I also have nothing to say to myself? Recently it occurred to me that I write on this site the same things, still using similar words. Over and over again I repeat myself, I don’t create anything new. As if I tried to find an answer to a question, when in fact, it’s impossible, because how can I find the answer, since I can not even properly formulate that question?

Even wandering around an impossible to decipher phenomenon, impossible to understand, but a  sort of wandering which could be describe as approximating, sensing and guessing – has its deep meaning. B. Pociej

I’m cycling on the salty lake. On the same salar, on which I cycled nearly seven years ago. I remember that at noon I met a couple of Austrians, who were already one and a half years on the road. They started in Alaska and they were heading towards Patagonia. It was August, and the day was very windy and far too cold. We spoke just a moment, but I still remember their faces. And their sparkling eyes. They were looking at me with a sight, in which the wind was blowing, the sun was beating down, in which the months of the trip engraved a sort of slight madness, mingled with the merest joy of being on the road. I looked longingly at the vanishing silhouettes until they turned into small, dark dots. Their shapes swelled in the hot air, seemed to float lightly on the lake, and eventually dissolved and disappeared, seized by waving, white emptiness of the horizon.

In the gathering dusk, the lights of the stars twinkle in the sky. The wind calms down, the air is filled with music. The sounds here never stop. Emptiness and cold sat down beside the tent. I put the kettle on and take some warmer clothes. I look at the horizon, with invariable impression that only thickening darkness gives to the sounds their proper timbre and intensity.