sobota, 14 grudnia 2013

Traveling the world for free? No, thanks.

Have you ever heard of one of these numerous projects aiming to prove how cool and adventurous it is to travel for next to no money? Google gives over 315 000 000 records for "traveling for free", so I assume you have. Because, come on, not only traveling, but traveling for free, this must be some kind of magic, right?

Nope. It's simply wrong, it's wrong on so many levels. This topic was surging within me for some time already, but today I saw one more 'fantastic' project about using people traveling for free and I snapped. Because it's so naive, it's such a worn out concept.

You see, for the past (over) two years I was focusing on my research for dissertation and what's worse, I decided that it's gonna be a damn good dissertation. I spent way too much time reading, interviewing people, researching, talking to backpackers, conducting interviews, researching, reading CS groups and in the end I was told that I have enough material to write a PhD thesis. I'm not writing it to brag, okay, maybe a bit, but you see, I talked to many people about traveling: why they do it, what it gives to them, what's the meaning, when it's easy, when it's difficult. And you know what's the outcome? Surprisingly many people are not very thoughtful about the way they travel,.

Ethical traveling? Reducing your (tourist's) negative influence? Sustainable backpacking? Respect? Forget it. People don't give a crap, they give very noble declarations, but that's all. Sometimes they pretend they do care, but in fact they don't, they just talk about how it gives them freedom and how educative it is. One of the worst things is that so many peopl think that traveling is their right. Guys, you're wrong, it's a damn privilege, it's entertainmnent, it's not a first-need thing. Backpacking is a feel-good tool, it's Disneyland for adults, it's like Prozac, just more expensive. Unless... unless you make it free. 

So, here we go. Traveling for free sounds great, but in fact, for free doesn't exist. Someone is going to pay for the hospitability you use. Water, electricity, shared food, gas. Don't get me wrong, I do hitch-hike, I do couchsurf, but I do it in rich countries, where this hospitability is a small burden for my host.

That's a proof!

But if you're going to travel the world for free, it means that at some point you're going to use resources (money, time, food) of someone, who needs is more than you, but due to cultural taboos is not able to refuse giving a shelter to some spoiled western brat. Because yeah, hospitality is sanctified and traditionally, a wanderer is a less fortunate one, who needs their help. For you, paying for a hostel or paying for food during your trip means one more month of work back home and saving up. Not a big price for not using people, amirite? So, the alternative scenario is that you are putting your trip one or two months off, save up more, come to your dream destination, pay a fair amount of money to people, who are doing great job running their small buisnesses, restaurants, hostels, food stalls, one-man rickshaw services and boosting their countries' economies... how cool is that? 

So, my honest advice: before you go for this illusion, think twice about how much does your traveling for free actually cost.

sobota, 19 października 2013


Last time I told God about my plans, he laughed, so this time I kept it for myself for quite a long time. You know, just not to jinx it. However, the big day is coming and I can't stay quiet anymore, so I'll tell you a secret (imagine I'm saying it with a confidential whisper): I'm moving.

To be precise, I'm moving to Norway, to Oslo and I'm excited and anxious. Mostly anxious, my inner Anxiety Girl is having the time of her life. I've been preparing myself for this step for the past four months, reading tons of articles, discussion groups and books. The good news, is that, apparently, I have some superpowers (or I'm just motivated beyond measure), since in three months I managed to go trough a Norwegian language course, that was designed for a year. So, yeah, if there are some villains in Oslo, I'll talk them to death.

My life is a rollercoaster again. It's Norwegian flashcards scattered all over the place, my mom panicking over the fact that I don't own a down jacket, NRK P2 blaring in the background and me wondering why for every nice international word like jam, sport or jeans, bokmål has a very awkward counterpart, like syltetøy, idrett or dongeribukser (It's like dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Every decent non-tricky international term has its evil twin in this language). It's also buying and re-booking flight tickets, budgeting, sorting things out, making lists and many other things. And imagine that all the fun has just began. Somewhere in the end of this craziness, there is a nice, cozy (probably closet-sized) room in Oslo, job, new friends, old friends visiting every now and then, (because, hey, when you have a chance to save up on accomodation in Norway, just do it, as long as the chance is still there), probably lot of First Price food, Pizza Grandiosa, dugnader, and things that I don't know yet they exist. Okay, now I'm a bit more excited than anxious. 

I feel like I should add some heart-warming illustration, so I'll just upload a
 random picture of a postcard depicting copulating raindeers from
somewhere around Tromso. 

poniedziałek, 26 sierpnia 2013

How to be a Very Good Couchsurfer (in 3 simple steps and plenty of pictures).

Constructive criticism involves both, negative and positive comments, so all right, here we go. Before, long long ago, when Couch Surfing was still a non-for-profit organisation it used to hire volunteers, who'd welcome newbies. I still remember the guy who introduced me to CS, his name was Stergios, he was from Greece and I could ask him any question I wanted. Now there are no volunteer anymore, we just have a really fucked up interface and request system, so we have to deal with it. Here is a bunch of tips of how to enjoy CS and not to damage it from inside:

1. Community. In the past year I went for a spontaneous road-trip to Lithuania with a bunch of strangers, I was skinny dipping in a pond in the night of summer solstice, and a reportage about me was published in a Norwegian magazine Aftenposten. All those things (And many more) happened because of Warsaw community and people I found there. Facebook has users, Microsoft has clients and CS has members, because it's a community. It's called Couch Surfing, so people tend to underestimate the community part, but trust me, it's important. Community develops on local dashboards, and the less spammed they are, the more space for community to develop there is. That's why it's so important not to write couch request at a dashboard. In Warsaw it grows beautifully, we have bridge club, Regular CS Volleyball Games, book club, Alternative Meetings, Dead Drinker Society, Weekly Meetings, Monthly Meetings and the whole bunch of other gatherings. The cool thing about it, is that you can just approach anyone, introduce yourself, make it a beginning of a wonderful friendship and no one is going to give you weird stares.

Here is my tip: find out if there is a meeting in your neighborhood (or organize it yourself) and just meet people. Trust me, at least some of them are cool. 

Summer solstice! (Not enough mead to do stupid things yet)

2. Surfing. On the other hand, yeah. CS is a lot about surfing as well. In the past years it went trough a lot of changes. First of all, it went for profit, then the number of members grew from 2 million in 2009 to 5.5 million in 2013 and then the media started writing about yay, how cool it is to crash couches for free, because, oh my God, people, you can save up 10$ on a hostel!  

Which is just a huge misunderstanding. 

Because CS is a place of cultural exchange. It's a gift economy. The fact that you don't pay with money, doesn't mean you come to your host empty-handed. You come to your host to meet a person, to be closer to everyday life in the visited destination. You come to your host, to give something and to take something. You don't come with money, you come with time, respect, patience and curiosity. And it's not just cliche talking, you don't pay with money, you pay with another currency.

That's why, as a good surfer you don't write come-one, come-all request on a dashboard. A good surfer wants to meet this particular host. A good surfer reads the profile carefully and then writes a personal, non copy-paste couch request. But first of all, a good surfer thinks about what he can give before thinking what he can get.

My tip for you is: before using Couch Surfing, think if you feel like you have enough time and patience. Sometimes you just don't and it's okay, in this case just book a hostel. There is of course a whole set of common-sense guidelines: bring a small gift from your country, adjust to your hosts schedule, bring your own food, keep the place clean, save water and electricity and so on. But first of all, for God's sake, don't write in your request 'I'm looking for a couch, because I don't have money for a hostel'. It's just wrong on so many levels. 

3. How it all works? Okay, I may be naive, but I assume, that there are people, who aren't lazy, just technologically handicapped and they need extra instructions on how to use Couch Surfing, because otherwise they will be posting couch requests on a dashboard, which is, let me remind you, a big no-no. If you're one of them, there is no reason to feel bad, it took me few hours to figure out how to install Facebook Like Box on my blog as well, I feel your pain. Here we go:

Here is the homepage of CS. In the top left corner there is a field where you type your destination:

Let's make it Paris. Click and voila, here is CS Paris community. Click "Plan a trip":

Now you see a simple 3-steps form. It's kinda obvious.Remember to fill all the fields

Step number two is writing a request that will be visible to everyone in the city, including your host. It's called "open request", because everyone who looks for a surfer can see it and invite you. Make it nice, if you are travelling in a group, describe your friends and add links to their CS accounts, write a bit about yourself, about your plans. Use "please", "thank you" and a proper punctuation. Click "continue".

Now you see the list of your potential host. Every host has some additional information:
  • Availability. In upper right corner there is a symbol of a coffee cup (he/she can't host but can meet you), a couch (he/she can host you), a couch with a question mark (maybe he/she can host you) or a plane (he's/she's travelling at the moment.
  • Reply rate. If someone declines most of the requests, he's obviously not a very active host. Look for people with a reply rate close to 100%
  • Reply time. If it takes 6 days for this particular host to reply, you may have to wait for the response from him/her. The shorter reply time, the better. 
On the left side there is a menu that lets you customize the list:
  • You can use the browser to look for hosts (specifying the number of people in your group will narrow down the search only to those who are available to host all of you), other surfers or locals, who can't host you.
  • If you click "Search by map", the browser will display a map, by zooming in and out you can change the list of hosts - the ones who will appear on the list are the ones who live in the area displayed on the map. 
  • You can also use the browser to find people with similar interests ('keyword'), at particular age or particular gender. 

After you click someone's picture, you'll see his/her profile. Read it carefully. Is this person cool? Does he/she have a reliable profile? Does he/she have (a) negative reference(s)? Above the profile picture there is a button "Send a couch request to...". Click it. What you see now is the last form. In the bottom window write why did you choose this particular person, and why he or she should host you. Make sure it's a personal request and it's clear that you read his or her profile. Ask when can you come and don't forget leaving your mobile number. Add your arrival and departure date and how you're going to reach his/her place. Done? Click "Send couch request"

You can write as many requests as you want, but my experience says that 10 nice, elaborate ones is more than enough to find a great host. If you get invitations from two people simultaneously, it's okay to say that you already found a host. Some people like to make sure that you read their profile. My last host in Graz asked surfers to include the name of her cat, hidden somewhere in the text of her profile, to a request. Remember to bring your own food and a sleeping bag, unless your host makes it clear that he has linen for you. Before you arrive, ask if he or she wants to spend some time with you, sometimes the only thing that a host can offer is a couch. After you say goodbye, remember to leave a reference. If your stay was great, just say it out loud, if your host was rude or behaved in an inappropriate way, you can always leave a negative reference.

If a couch request is written properly, it's REALLY the quickest way to find a host and, making your surfing safer, funnier and more enriching. 

wtorek, 20 sierpnia 2013

Biało-czerwona w sosie tabasco / White-and-red flag in tabasco sauce.

Wszyscy wiemy, co się zdarzyło w Gdyni. Według opowieści świadków wyglądało to tak, że 18 sierpnia nad ranem przybyli do miasta dżentelmeni-sportowcy z Chorzowa w liczbie paru setek. Ranek był rześki, do meczu zostało jeszcze trochę czasu, młodzież z Chorzowa, znana głównie z rozlicznych akcji charytatywnych wyległa na plażę. Na plaży przywitali ich liczni lokalni plażowicze, z którymi miłośnicy naszego sportu narodowego śpiewali patriotyczne piosenki. Sielski dzień na plaży upływał leniwie, młodzieńcy zorganizowali pokaz pirotechniczny dla dzieci, maluchy były zachwycone, aż wtem... na plażę wtargnęła banda pokrytych tatuażami meksykańskich żołnierzy z nożami sprężynowymi w zębach, gotowych gwałcić, mordować i rabować. Ale głównie gwałcić. Bandyci rzucili się na nadobne niewiasty, już, już miało dojść do obscenicznych aktów na plażowiczkach, gdy polscy dżentelmeni, brzydzący się przemocą, wobec kobiet zwłaszcza, powiedzieli basta. (zupełnie przypadkowo w dla obu stron zrozumiałym języku). Potem powiedzieli 'kurwa' i jeszcze parę innych rzeczy, które tym razem nie były zrozumiałe i tak rozpętało się piekło. W powietrzu fruwały sombreros i husarskie skrzydła, pierogi i butelki tabasco, kurwy i pendejos. Na szczęście dzięki niewielkiej przewadze liczebnej, jakieś 300 do 17, nasi dzielni dżentelmeni wygrali, cnota słowianek została ocalona, a nad plażą załopotała (fakt, że trochę poplamiona tabasco) biało-czerwona flaga.

Taka przynajmniej jest wersja kiboli. Mimo tak wiarygodnych przesłanek, skłonna jestem uwierzyć w to, że siedemnastu wysportowanych latynoskich marynarzy, creme de la creme meksykańskiej Heroica Escuela Naval Militar, przyciągało damskie spojrzenia. Wiadomo, latynosi są hot, marynarze są hot, latynoscy marynarze są tak hot, że na ich klatach można smażyć boczek. Kibice Ruchu Chorzów natomiast... powiedzmy, że są tak hot jak syberyjskie bory w lutym. Wiadomo też, że przy brakach lingwistycznych jedynym sposobem wyrażenia niezadowolenia z bycia pominiętym na matrymonialnym rynku jest spuszczenie wpierdolu. Dalej wszyscy wiemy co się stało, u nas dym, za oceanem jeszcze do dziś rana myślałam, że mając poważniejsze problemy zleją całą historię. Nie zlali, pisze o tym nawet CNN Mexico. 

Najciekawsze jest jednak to, co zdarzyło się później. Doszły mnie słuchy, że wszystkiemu winne są puszczalskie Polki, zwłaszcza te ze Szczecina, które, ponoć dawały się pukać w każdym hotelu i rozochociły marynarzy, którzy do Gdyni przypłynęli w wiadomym celu. A przecież tak nie można. Puszczalskie Polki mają się puszczać tylko z Polakami (cnotliwymi jak Bolesław Wstydliwy), inaczej przyjdzie chorzowska policja obyczajowa i zbije bezwstydników. Rynek matrymonialny jest mocno liberalny, więc jeśli na towar jest mały popyt to należy go poprawić, bo inaczej można będzie się pocieszać tym, że najlepsza baba to własna graba. Można zacząć od wyrzucenia z wokabularza słowa 'puszczalska'.

Miałam okazję mieszkać w Meksyku przez pół roku. Chamski podryw zdarzał mi się sporadycznie, głównie od wąsatych wujaszków stojących w korku na Paseo de la Reforma, którzy robili to chyba, żeby nie wyjść z wprawy. Całkiem często zdarzało mi się za to dostawać komplementy i spotykać bardzo dobrych tancerzy. Nie wiem czy dla tych, którzy płaczą, że Polki ich nie chcą ta aluzja jest dość czytelna. Wracając do kiboli Chorzowa, to chciałabym zobaczyć statystyki przemocy domowej z Cwajki, Chorzowa II, zagłębia fanów Ruchu. Ogromnie mnie fascynuje to, czy dżentelmenami są w domu czy tylko na wyjeździe. 

Komiksiarz proponuje inne wytłumaczenie tej sytuacji i chociaż mam mu za złe to, że musiałam przez niego czyścić laptopa z kawy, to myślę, że jest ono bardzo prawdopodobne:


We all know what happened in Gdynia. According to the witnesses, in the morning of August 18th a group of few hundreds of athletes-gentlemen from Chorzów arrived to the city. The morning was brisk, there was still some time left to the football match between Arka Gdynia and Ruch Chorzów, so young people, known mostly of numerous charity activities, decided to go to the beach. On the beach local sunbathers welcomed them joyfully and all together they started singing patriotic songs. The day was idyllic, the fans of our national sport organized a pyrotechnic show for kids, who were delighted with it. Suddenly, the beach was invaded by a bunch of tatoos-covered Mexican soldiers, with knives in their teeth, ready to rape, kill and plunder. Mostly rape, as it turned out. Bandits pounced on the ladies, and they were about to perform obscene acts on them, when Polish gentlemen, abhorring violence, especially towards women said basta. (Coincidentially in a language, that was understandable for both sides, since the word means the same in Polish and Spanish). Then they said kurwa and some other things about bandits' mothers, which were not understandable, and that's how the hell was raised. There were somberos and hussar wings in the air, pierogi and bottles of tabasco sauce, kurwas and pendejos. Luckilly, thanks to a small preponderance, something like 300 versus 17, our brave gentlemen won, virtue of slavic ladies was defended and a red-and-white flag (a bit stained with tabasco sauce though) fluttered over the empty beach.

At least this is what hooligans say. Despite having such convincing arguments, I'd be more eager to believe in the fact, that seventeen fit, dark, latino marineros, who happen to be creme de la creme of Mexican Heroica Escuela Naval Militar, coming back home from Szczecin, where they were participating in famous Tall Ship Races on their stunning vessel 'Cuauhtemoc' were turning ladies' heads. Let's face it, marines are hot. Latinos are hot. Latino marines are so hot that one could fry bacon on their chests. Ruch Chorzów football fans are on the other hand... they are hot as deep Siberian forest in mid-February. It's kind of obvious, that with their lack of linguistic skills, the only way of expressing dissatisfaction caused by being omitted at the matrimonial market was beating the shit out of the ones who weren't. We all know what happened next. Till today's morning I was hoping that Mexico has more serious problems and they would ignore all this incident. They didn't, CNN Mexico already writes about it. 

The most important thing is however, what happened on the Polish Internet later. I was quite surprised to hear, that Polish permissive slutty girls are to blame, especially the ones from Szczecin, where Tall Ship Races took place. They were 'letting those Mexican dudes shag 'em in every hotel in the city', so they upped an appetite of Mexican boys, who came to Gdynia for one purpose. And it's not supposed to be like this, right? Slutty Polish girls should be permissive to Polish guys only, otherwise vice squads from Chorzów will come and beat the shit out of profligates. The matrimonial market is quite a liberal one, so if your product has no demand, you should pimp it up a bit, otherwise you'll get blisters on your right hand. You can start with crossing out the word slutty from your vocabulary. 

I was lucky to live in Mexico for half a year, and no one treated me disrespectfully. The worse pick-up line I encountered was eeey, gringa guerita! shouted by moustached old cab drivers, getting bored in the traffic jam at Paseo de la Reforma. I think they were considering it as some kind of a pick-up training and had little to no hope for success. Quite often though, I was getting compliments and I was meeting excellent dancers. I'm not sure if this hint is clear for dudes, who are whining, because they are invisible for girls. Compliments and dance, boys! By the way, I'd like to see domestic violence statistics from Cwajka, Chorzów II, the infamous home of Ruch Chorzów hooligans. I'm curious if they are gentlemen at home as well as at away tie. 

Komiksiarz offers a different view on this situation, and I think it's quite convincing, even though I had to wipe my laptop after I laughed while drinking coffee. The point is that Ola is a female name, coming from Alexandra, and it's pronounced like Spanish hola.

- Łukasz, please, chill out, you don't look like a girl
- I know,  but they  call me  Ola once again and I'm
gonna beat the shit out of them

niedziela, 18 sierpnia 2013

How to become a Very Bad Couchsurfer in seven simple steps

You have no money, but you want to travel to some overpriced super touristy city in a high season. Barcelona. Or Venice. Or Paris. A friend of yours told you once about a website called Couch Surfing, which is basically about having free accommodation, and, if you're lucky, you can even get laid. Yay! What do you do? Obviously, you become a Very Bad Couchsurfer.

Check out a CS group called Funny Negative References, you'll find there
 ideas on how to be a Very Bad Couchsurfer!

1. First of all, you need a profile, but ain't nobody got time for that, so just add a picture of your dog, who cares. Or add a group picture, your hosts will have fun guessing which one is you. Or, if you really think you're ugly, upload a 100 x 150 px picture of you wearing huge sunglasses. Or just don't add a picture at all, your personality beaming from your profile should be enough. If you're a girl, set a half-naked selfie as your profile pic (boobs or GTFO), this will prevent you from getting invitations from other girls and will encourage dudes who want to score you. If you are a guy, make sure to upload every picture of you accompanied by hot chicks, that you have on your hard drive, it surely won't make you look like a creepo. Describe yourself as an open-minded and easy-going person. Don't include your age, after all, you value your privacy. Include some really cool and unique hobbies, like reading books, sport and music, so people would see that you're a very interesting person. Don't forget about travelling, because it may not be obvious, when you're using a travel-related website. You get three points if you manage to create your profile within 3 minutes. 

2. Now you have a profile. Excellent. You chose a city. Barcelona! There will be many tourists there, and you need to get a free couch. CouchSurfing system will be trying to suggest using a Couch Request functionality every now and then. IGNORE IT. Otherwise you'll have to spend hours on looking for a host, and you keep your motto in the back of your head. Post your request right on a dashboard, it doesn't matter that the Barcelona dashboard is flooded with requests like yours and nobody really reads them. Your sparkling personality will beam from your post anyway! Just write that you are coming and that you are looking for a couch. Here is a tip - you are looking for a couch, not a host. We don't want somebody to get a stupid idea that you want anything more than just a free hotel, amirite? If you're coming with friends, don't attach links to their CS of Facebook profiles, your potential host should trust you enough to let you bring to his house pretty much anybody! 

You may not get many responses for your message. Actually, after 5 minutes, you may find your message lonely, forgotten and relegated to the 4th page of a dashboard by eleventy billion new messages from other very bad couch surfers. Shit happens, you'll probably need to go back to that ridiculous Couch Request functionality. 

3. The nosy system will ask you about what are you going to do in Barcelona. Remember that you value your privacy, so write something very general. You have to use at least 100 characters. If you use words such as 'party', 'hang out' and 'drink', you'll need to use only 83 characters for all 'hahahah' and 'lol' that you'd like to use! Now, the system shows you a list of your potential hosts. Choose randomly. Reading their profiles? Come on, ain't nobody... Once you choose a person and want to send a request, this goddamn system will ask you why do you want to meet this person. Duh, because you have no money? (bonus 5 points for including this) And you're looking for a couch? (next 5 points) Really Couch Surfing, is it that difficult to guess? Click a 'send couch request' button and wait.

4. Wait 5 minutes more

5. No response. Go back to the dashboard, repeat numbers 3, 4 and 5 till you get an invitation (as an additional argument for hosting you, you may add that nobody wants to host you and you have nowhere to go. Add a very sad emoticon). Yay! Some very naive and potentially masochistic barceloni wants to host you, even though you gave more than enough signals of being a Very Bad Couchsurfer. Make an appointment with him, don't bother with exchanging phone numbers though. Get late (don't apologize!). During your stay, keep your things all over the place. Take a very long hot shower. Twice. Don't turn off the light. Eat something from his fridge (+ 10 points), after all you are the guest here. Make some noise in the night. If you're with your girlfriend or boyfriend, have sex on a couch and make sure that not only your host, but also all his neighbors (the ones from across the street too) know about it . (If you leave a condom behind a couch, you get additional 15 points). In the morning take an extra long shower, making sure that your host not only pays huge bills for water, but also gets late for work. If your barceloni host is not particularly smart, make him take you for a party. Get piss drunk, pass out in the middle of the party, it will provide him some additional adventures. (If you manage to puke on his shoes, you get additional 10 points, if you hit on his girlfriend, you get 15 points more)

6. After your surfing don't leave the references, unless you were hosted by a chick and you scored her (+ 5 points). In this case, make sure to include this detail in your reference!

7. Did you get more than 40 points? Congratulations! Go to the mirror, raise your right hand and tap your back. You've just became a Very Bad Couchsurfer. Some people may not like it, but don't worry, you're not alone!

wtorek, 13 sierpnia 2013

Waking up full of awesome

I found this manifesto long ago, trough Pinterest. The author is a very brave mom, Melissa Atkins Wardy, who decided to give her kids proper childhood. A childhood, that lets girls grow up in their own pace, that lets them be girls, not small, eroticized lolitas. That allows them to play with Matchbox cars if they want or with LEGO bricks or with dolls. A childhood that is about respect and raising kids, who are healthy, bold and full of awesome. I absolutely love it, so I decided to create a small fan-art. Feel free to check out her website.

Znalazłam ten tekst dawno temu, przez Pinterest. Autorką jest pewna bardzo dzielna mama, Melissa Atkins Wardy, która zdecydowała, że da swoim dzieciom cudowne dzieciństwo. Takie, które pozwala dzieciom na dorastanie w ich własnym tempie, i które pozwala dziewczynkom na bycie dziewczynkami a nie rozerotyzowanymi lolitkami. Dzieciństwo, w którym jeśli chcą, mogą się bawić matchboxami, albo klockami LEGO albo lalkami. Takie, które opiera się na szacunku i na wychowywaniu dzieci, które są zdrowe, pewne siebie i pełne zachwytu. Absolutnie uwielbiam ten tekst, dlatego postanowiłam stworzyć mały fan-art. Rzućcie okiem na jej stronę.

Był taki czas, kiedy miałaś pięć lat i budziłaś się pełna zachwytu.

Wiedziałaś, że jesteś wspaniała.

Kochałaś samą siebie.

Sądziłaś, że jesteś piękna, nawet, jeśli byłaś szczerbata, miałaś potargane włosy a skarpetki w twoich utytłanych trampkach były nie od pary.

Kochałaś swoje ciało i rzeczy, które potrafiło robić.

Sądziłaś, że jesteś silna.

Wiedziałaś, że jesteś mądra.

Ciągle to masz, ten zachwyt?

Ktoś ci go zabrał? Pozwoliłaś mu?
Dałaś go sobie odebrać, bo ktoś powiedziać, że nie jesteś wystarczająco piękna, szczupła, inteligentna, dobra? Dlaczego do cholery miałabyś ich słuchać? Wzięłaś pod uwagę, że mogą gadać farmazony?

Czy to nie byłoby zupełnie bez sensu, gdybym powiedziała mojej córce, że za pięć albo dziesięć lat może nienawidzić się za to, że nie wygląda jak głodująca modelka po Photoshopie? Albo jeszcze dziaczniej: że powinna być raczej seksowna niż mądra, raczej piękna niż pewna siebie? Żartujesz sobie?

Popatrz na nią. Jest pełna zachwytu.

Ty też kiedyś byłaś. Może dalej jesteś. Może jesteś w trakcie odzyskiwania go.

Wiem tyle, że jeśli nie wstajesz codziennie rano czując się w ten sposób, to bardzo dużo tracisz.

niedziela, 7 lipca 2013

Task 20: Hike in Bieszczady mountains

(You may want to read the previous post to know what I'm talking about)

I got my sudden clarity moment on my way to our grocery store, when I sensed a smell of sawmill. And then a smell of wet pine forest. And many other smells that are far away from all these artificial, civilized smells that became so familiar for us. Out of sudden I felt an urge to leave everything and go to Bieszczady. Which is peculiar, because I've never been there. 

When you look at the map, Poland has a shape of a pentagon. The bottom, most southern corner, bordering Ukraine is Bieszczady mountains region, wild and remote, a true borderland. Not really fully Polish, but not Ukrainian either. A bit catholic, a bit orthodox. And it's really wild. Like wolves and bears wild. A hut in Bieszczady is a synonym of not giving a crap about civilization, Sex And The City, glossy magazines and holidays in Dominican Republic. If someone buys a hut in Bieszczady, it means that a) he's going to grow a beard, b) from now on you can reach him only by sending a pidgeon. 

Now, imagine Poland in eighties. No, really, go ahead. Google Chris Niedenthal pictures, they tell a lot about this time. Think about constant lack of everything, about long long queues to a shop, where the only thing being sold is toilet paper (and you must be quick, because there are only 500 rolls available!), about every stupid thing being such a big deal. About needing special permission to go abroad or move to another city. But most of all, think about constant misinformation. On one hand there was the official propaganda and no one believed it. On the other hand, there were gossips, much more trustworthy but still, gossips. And, obviously double standards, some people could have exotic holidays and quality food, some couldn't. You and your family couldn't. And you never knew which one of your friends is actually a secret agent, so you better don't tell that hilarious joke about how stupid the government is, because you don't want sad gentlemen in grey coats to knock your door one day. And this ubiquitous sense of hopefulness, a feeling that your reality is grey and difficult, you can't see the world and it's going to be like this forever. 

It's said that all the tradition of Russian author song was born, because of the crisis in the USSR. People could find truth only in open air activities, such as hiking, kayaking or canyoning. After all day of hiking, they would set a bonfire and songs would just come, out of nowhere. I believe, that this is what happened in Poland in eighties. People were just tired with being bullshitted by the government and the thick atmosphere of Martial Law, so they were just escaping to remote parts of Poland to find, well, truth. Authentic experiences. Freedom. Because the rules are clear in the mountains, there is no bullshitting. If you piss a bear, then you need to run fast. No misinformation, no double standards, no bullshitting. 

That's why Bieszczady mountains started attracting young people. Unpretentious bearded guys with backpacks, fit student girls with checked shirts. Lumberjacks, poets, wanderers, sheperds and artists. And Bieszczady. Wildlife, Simple conditions, shelters with cold water only. Sleeping on the floor. Hitch-hiking. Vodka. Quite a lot of it. Guitars. Young, well-read people. Wolves and bears. Quickly a very particular subculture arose. They started composing music for poems and this is how sung poetry was born. If you ever  find a Polish song for guitar, harmonica and violin, talking about wolf's fangs, lost love, sunrise, wanderers and połoninas, then you know that the authors probably were having beards.

Okay, this is not even Bieszczady, it's Barania Góra, but it gives the vibe, right? You can totally imagine a hot bearded lumberjack with a backpack taking this picture. (The truth is that it was probably taken by one of our scouts, long long ago, but still, it's all about the vibe)

Recently I found old pictures of my scout troop. So old, that there is no chance I could remember them. They were taken in early nineties, at the dawn of culture of Bieszczady, but still, had this very special vibe, that made me long for leaving everything, get some old style backpack, a train ticket and just go to Bieszczady. Wear checked shirt and sing poetry about sunrise in Połonina Caryńska and morning dew and golden icons in empty wooden orthodox churches.

I've never been there, there is a whole ethos of Bieszczady, based on the respect towards nature, people and heritage. At least there was. I've heard that it's kinda difficult to find accomodation there in high season and if you manage to find it, it's expensive. I was told that there are more and more tourists wearing flipflops and 'hiking' in Połonina Caryńska. I may go there and then get a Bieszczady version of Paris syndrome. Still, I'd like to go. I'm stuck at home, doing some work that has to be done and I'm super broke. The weather is beautiful, it's Polish summer at its peak, and I'm dying to hitch-hike to some remote part of Poland, see the countryside and sleep in a tent. I was a scout for 13 years. It means that at this time of the year for most of the summers in my life, I was in some remote part of Poland, sleeping in tent for 3 weeks and hiking in the countryside. I'm pretty sure that one day psychiatrist will research on this urge for leaving the civilisation that comes in July to all those who were involved in scouting and they will call it "post scout camp syndrome" or something like this.

If you want to know more about Bieszczady:

  • Look it up in the old National Geograpics, there were some good articles, at least in Polish edition. They might be translated, and even if they weren't, you can always see the photographs. 
  • Find a book Axing, or the Winter of Forest Folk written in 1971 by Edward Stachura. It's a Bible of people of Bieszczady and a beloved book of generations of poets, lumberjacks and wanderers.
  • Listen to the music

poniedziałek, 27 maja 2013

A Meh Week and "when was the last time you smelled manure?"

It has been raining for days. You know, one of those pranks of summer, when first you get few days of Cuban heat, you do an inspection of all you summer dresses and start making plans about those wild bonfires on Vistula river beaches. 

And then the rain comes. 

And it rains cats and dogs for weeks. And all your summer days become Meh Days. And you know that you should be doing something constructive, that your tasks are piling up, that you should at least learn some Norwegian or practice playing ukulele if you can't do something REALLY important and urgent, but well, it's a Meh Day. You're craving for something or someone who'd give you a kick of inspiration, motivation and energy, but the only thing that's actually coming are rainy clouds outside your window. 

So this is pretty much how my past week looked like. Has been looking like, to be precise. A Meh Week. There is a golden advice saying "If nothing works, cook a soup, a soup always works". So yeah, I put my purple wellingtons on and went to our local grocery store, to get some spinach leaves. Mainly because I want to believe that my decreasing level of energy and motivation has something to do with a lack of iron in my diet, so even if it's gonna be a placebo, I'm gonna make myself a magical green spinach-iron elixir. I'm pretty sure that this is what Panoramix used to fix in his cauldron. I went out and on my way to the shop I could smell: wet soil, wet pine forest, wet, freshly sawn boards in a sawmill, wet wool and acacia blossom. Because, I must tell you, I kinda live in a countryside. It's still within the city borders but it's more like a little village, all my family lives here, we have pine forest, hedgehogs and wild boars, so you gotta be careful when you're choosing your night run route. 

We have bambis too. I wonder why aren't the prices of real estate a bit higher in my neighbourhood. Come on people, a bambi in your garden! And fierce wild boars on your running route. 

The other thing is that I'm sensitive for smells. My great-grandmother could smell sulphur from the other side of a house when my mom and her cousin were playing with matches. I think I'm the one from all ten of her great-grandchildren, who inherited increased olfactory acuity. 

Today, when I was walking to the shop, I realized I haven't been smelling real smells for a long time. Right now I'm in my room, I can smell coffee and a cinammon candle. I'm (and you're too) closed in a bubble of civilisational smells. A smell of a bus. An artificial smell of cinnamon candles. Toothpaste. Coffee. Printed book. Plastic-y smell of new clothes in H&M. Leather in a shoe shop. Parfumed lady passing by in a shopping mall. And then you go out and smell soil and pine trees and it's something unusual. When was the last time when you smelled freshly-cut grass? Manure? Water in a lake? A tomato? Yeah, I mean real tomato, not this Spanish watery crap you buy in Carrefour. (Sorry Spain, I believe that you grow awesome tomatoes, sadly the ones that you export to Poland are crap.). I love the smell of coffee and a printed book, I don't think I'm alone here, but gee, I love also freshly cut grass and pines and it's better to know where is the exit in my civilisational bubble of parfume and new clothes.

I've no idea how did my brain work during that quest for spinach leaves, and how did it happen that all those smells generated a huge longing for going somewhere I've never been to, but my brain works in mysterious ways sometimes. (Like when I wake up after a super weird dream and I'm all like "WTF brain, seriously!?"). What's more, it also made me listen to a prehistoric music and wear a lumberjane checked shirt. But this is a story for another blog post. 

sobota, 4 maja 2013

It's been a year!

When I left home today, I was going to find some peaceful spot in the downtown and a cup of coffee, so I could focus on perfectioning my job application. I ended up cooking delicious Thai food and drinking wine with two strangers. You know, strangers who become your friends in a split of seconds, because something just clicks and suddenly you realize that it's almost midnight and you are passionately discussing about rockabilly skirts and Prussian doctors. That's the magic of CouchSurfing I guess.

I found them on the steps of church in Plac Zbawiciela. First we were proof-reading my job application and then Cole asked Justyna if I can join them for a dinner. I guess that it's the adult version of "she followed me all the way home, can we keep her?"

When I was leaving the apartment of our lovely host Justyna, I felt something. Maybe I felt it just because I just had a great meal and a decent wine in a brilliant company. Maybe it happened because it was one of those balmy nights, when air smells with magnolia and cherry blossoms and birds are singing like crazy. Maybe it happened because it's Friday night and a colorful crowd was filling the streets. Or maybe it's because of a bottle of cat tranquilizer, that my other CS stranger, Cole, claims to always carry on him (he was a chef, I was just chopping, who knows what he poured into coconut milk). I don't know. But I felt like suddenly everything got to where it belongs. That things are going into the right direction, that I'm young, I'm (I like to think so) pretty, and I have whole life ahead of me. Yay.

This reminded me the last April. The time when I started Ten Awesome Years. I was staying at my friend's apartment, cat-sitting. I was alone and the cat was vicious. I was scared, I was overthinking, I felt like my carefree life ended and like I'm trapped in a life I didn't want. All newspapers were writing about crisis and unemployement, particularly unemployment amongst young people, especially those educated in humanities. I was struggling to keep a relationship that had no chance to survive, I had panic attacks and I was PARALYZED with fear. I was so terrified, that for weeks I was having breathing problems, I felt like there is something constantly sitting on my chest, not letting me take a deep breath. If your body tells you that there's something wrong with your mind, you better take it seriously. In the middle of this I decided, that crap, I'm not gonna live this way. No way. I'm not gonna let stupid newspapers itimidate me, I don't agree on having a low quality life.

I didn't know what to do with my life. I knew what I didn't want to do with my life. I sat down and I wrote down all the things that I wanted to do before I die. And then I thought that since I work well under the time pressure, and a whole life is a terribly long time, I should make it shorter. Like... ten years. Ten awesome  years. And that there is a chance that if I make it public, I'll feel like a looser quitting it at some point. And here we go! After I made a decision to have an awesome life, things started to work again. I owe you guys a brief summary of what has been happening in the past year, but it has to wait till the morning. It's 3:32 am, I'm super sleepy and those goddamn birds are still there, singing like there's no tomorrow.

środa, 1 maja 2013

"When one man dies, it is a tragedy, when thousands die, it's statistics"

Okay, so maybe you've noticed, but I had a writer's block in the past ummm... month. Not that I'm a writer. I had like gazillion  things to say, but somehow it didn't look good written down. In past weeks I went to visit my friend in the University of Essex and I came back super stoked, I started planning how to achieve my goal numer four, I had some really cool interviews for my thesis, I even made a short video as a part of my job application. But seriously, none of those things seemed worth sharing. Or they did, but sounded corny either in English or in Polish. (Does any of you experience this? You write a piece of a witty, brilliant text in Polish and when you translate it to English it all sounds like "I be potato". Or the other way round).
But there is one thing that got stuck in my mind and I just must write about it, otherwise I'll explode. Now focus, and think about the most important thing that happened last month and got a worldwide attention.
Mesdames et monsieurs, now my assistant will pick a card, and I'm telling you that first thing that you thought about was Boston Marathon bombings. Did you?
Allright. So, Boston Marathon bombings, 5 deaths in total: 3 spectators at the Marathon, 1 police officer and one suspect. Add to it 281 injuried people. We all know about Dzokhar and Tamerlane Tsarnaev, about their mother, about Chechnya, pressure-cookers, about that eight-years-old boy, who died, about that brave man, Carlos Arredondo, who ran in the marathon to protest against the war and ended up rescuing people.

Nine days later a factory building in Bangladesh collapsed. Now, ask yourself: a) how many people died? b) where exactly did it happen? c) who is responsible for this?
Can you answer these questions? I couln't, I had to google it. 401 people died, 1000 are injuried, it happened in Savar Upazila in Dhaka and companies, which employed those people (and didn't make sure that the factory building meets safety norms) were Benetton Group, The Children's Place, Primark, Monsoon, DressBarn and probably also WallMart. Inspectors discovered the cracks on the walls of the building just a day before. Some of employees were immediately evacuated, but the managers threatened to withhold the monthly pay from garmets workers who refused to enter the factory. Don't get me wrong, every death is a tragedy, what happened in Boston is just wrong and terryfying, but how come that I knew so many things about marathon bombing and so little about Savar Upazila?
Probably, I wouldn't really bother to check anything about what happened in Bangladesh, but I found this on Facebook and I can't stop thinking about it:

This photo just left me speechless. You can watch documentaries, read tons of reports and articles and then a picture like this comes and you feel a lump in your throat, even though you aren't particularly emotional person. And you can't help thinking that  she is a person, she has a name. Maybe it was Chaitali, maybe Devangi. The skin on her arm is smooth, she's young, could she be your age? Or maybe she was your little sister's age? Who gave her this golden bracelet? And him? Maybe he fancied her? Did he try to rescue her or just embraced her because he knew he's dying and just wanted to hold someone? The lump in your throat is still there and you can't get rid of this image and erase it from your head for the rest of your day. The jumper you wear is made in Cambodia, your T-shirt was produced in China and out of sudden they don't feel that comfortable anymore. But on the other hand you know that voting with your (very thin) wallet won't make a change. Will it?
I saw this picture in the morning, now it's 5:35 pm and I keep thinking about it. Yeah, Benetton is guilty, Mango is guilty, Inditex is guilty for using other people in different parts of the world. I am guilty and you are guilty too because you're buying their products. But do you really have a choice?

piątek, 5 kwietnia 2013

All the fuss about suspended coffee / O zawieszonej kawie

I bet you've heard about so called suspended coffee. If not, I don't know where are you living, but surely not on the Internet. So, it's all about a custom from Naples, which says that if you're having a good day, you should share your happiness with the world, by buying a coffee for someone in need. You go to a barista and order two (or more) coffees: one for yourself and so called caffe sospeso. If someone walks into a cafe, he or she can just order it and a barista has to give it for free. Simple as that. This idea was ilustrated with a picture of a hobo holding a cup of coffee, and got spread virally across the Internet. The response was amazing, there were either people saying that it's an awesome idea, making world the better place, puking with rainbow and stuff, or people saying that every single waiter in a cafe will steal their precious coffee and even if he won't, a cafe will get crowded with stinky homeless people which must be a traumatizing experience for clients. 

As you may know, I'm currently researching on things like gift economy, so I find this phenomenon particularly interesting. To make it clear, I'd like to tell you an anecdote. Once upon a time, before the World War II, the hottest soldiers in Poland were those from cavalry units. The top womanizer of Polish cavalry was general Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski. When he came to Warsaw for the first time, he and his friend were strolling down one of the streets of the city and Wieniawa was tipping his hat to every woman who was passing by. His friend was really confused and eventually he made a remark, that perhaps Wieniawa could re-think it, because half of the women they met were hookers. The response was quick: It's better to be a gentleman to ten hookers than being rude to one decent lady. 

I'm telling this story, because I'm amazed by the negative response to the idea of suspended coffee. People are saying that it simply can't work in Poland, because 
a) No cafe would like to serve coffee to homeless people
b) Baristas will keep all coffees for themselves if no one controlls them
c) Coffees will be taken by people who don't really need it
d) Coffee is extremely expensive in Poland so for those money you can feed a person in need for two days.
e) It's against the law.

I was thinking about it. I have a low bullshit tollerance and I'm not a big fan of sugar coated stories, Kony2012 and liking posts on Facebook in order to save the world. However, when you look at this case, you'll see that there are already nine places in Warsaw and many more in other cities, that serve cafe sospeso. For a cafe it's a pure benefit - they not only sell more coffee, but also have good PR. I have never worked as a barista, but I talked to my friend, an expert of Warsaw's restaurants and cafes, who told me, that it's normal that waiters eat lunch at resaurant and baristas have some limit of free coffee, so seriously, probably they won't give a crap about your precious 8 PLN. If coffee is really taken by people who don't need it, then as Wieniawa said, it's better to tip your hat at ten hookers than miss one decent lady and it's better to give coffee to ten people who don't need it, than miss the one in need. Sure, coffee for 8 PLN is relatively expensive. This is I guess a little less than a waitress earns per hour, but for those who say that it's better to buy a meal to a hobo, or cook a soup and give it to people, or donate a big bag of potatoes to charity: ask yourself when was the last time you bought a meal to a person in need. I don't really see people doing it often. Also, the whole idea is legally clear, there is a coffee, there is a purchase, there is a receipt, taxes are paid.

But all those things are not the issue. True, a cup of hot beverage may make a difference sometimes, but mind that, all this idea, at least here, in Poland (in Italy, I believe it has slightly different roots) is not meant to achieve measurable goals, it's more about changing attitudes. It's gonna make a change, not by feeding homeless people, but by making people realize, that they are an agent of change.

One last thing: for my research I need to ask people difficult questions. The sociological trick to get an honest answer is asking what people think instead of what do you think, because people tend to project their beliefs on everyone else. If I'm envious, I'm gonna tell that other people are envious. If I'm tempted to use other people's good will or feel superior when I'm looking at a homeless guy, well... this sentence you can finish yourself.


Założę się, że już słyszeliście o idei zawieszonej kawy. Jeśli nie, to nie wiem gdzie się chowacie ale na pewno nie w Internecie. W całym zamieszaniu chodzi o zwyczaj z Neapolu, według którego, jeśli ci się w życiu powiodło albo z jakiegoś powodu masz dobry humor, powinieneś się podzielić swoim szczęściem ze światem w taki sposób, że jeśli kupujesz sobie kawę, kupujesz też drugą, "zawieszoną". Jeśli do knajpy wejdzie ktoś w potrzebie, może o nią poprosić i obsługa ją wyda. Cały ten pomysł został opatrzony zdjęciem żula z kubkiem kawy i rozwlókł się po Internecie. Reakcja była fascynująca, ludzie podzielili się na wiernych fanów, rzygających tęczą nad ideą i tych, którzy twierdzili, że na pewno na ich pracowicie uciułane 8 zeta za kawę czyhają zastępy złodziei, z kelnerami na czele, a nawet jeśli nie, to żadna kawiarnia tego nie kupi, bo tłum bezdomnych wypełni ich ulubione miejsce na Zbawi wonią nie mytych nóg. 

Jak może wiecie, jestem w trakcie badań nad takimi zagadnieniami jak między innymi kultura daru, więc całe zamieszanie jest dla mnie szczególnie interesujące. Żeby było jaśniej opowiem anegdotkę. Dawno temu, konkretnie przed II Wojną Światową wszyscy chcieli być generałem Wieniawą-Długoszowskim (albo z generałem Wieniawą-Długoszowskim, w zależności od preferencji), kobieciarzem, uberhipsterem, żołnierzem, bohaterem, poszukiwaczem przygód i w ogóle what-not. Kiedy przyjechał po raz pierwszy do Warszawy i przechadzał się jej ulicami ze swoim znajomym, uchylał rogatywki przed każdą mijaną kobietą. Kolega był trochę skonfundowany i w końcu odważył się powiedzieć, że Wieniawa kłania się w dużej mierze warszawskim dziwkom, na co dostał odpowiedź, że lepiej ukłonić się dziesięciu dziwkom niż ominąć jedną damę. W gruncie rzeczy nie wiem czy to był na pewno Wieniawa, ale to w te chwili nieistotne, liczy się morał.

Opowiadam tę historię, bo jestem zafascynowana tym, ile negatywnych emocji towarzyszy całej inicjatywie. Mówi się, że to nie może udać się w Polsce, bo:
a) Żadna kawiarnia nie będzie gościła u siebie żuli
b) Bariści będą żłopać zawieszoną kawę wiadrami jak nikt nie patrzy
c) Masa cwaniaków będzie brała sobie kawę, chociaż nie potrzebują
d) Za kasę którą wydaje się na kawę można wyżywić bezdomnego przez dwa dni, oraz
e) Zaraz przyczepi się skarbówka

Trochę nad tym myślałam. Mam low bullshit tollerance i do historii w których występują nakarmieni bezdomni, biedne psy i afrykańskie dzieci podchodzę z rezerwą. Nie jestem fanką Konego2012, naiwnych historyjek i akcji, które ratują świat za pomocą zbierania lajków. Mimo to, kiedy się temu przyjrzeć, można zauważyć, że jest już dziewięć miejsc w Warszawie i dużo więcej w innych miastach, które serwują cafe sospeso. Dla kawiarni to sam zysk, sprzedają więcej kawy i mają dobry PR, na który nie wydają ani grosza. Nigdy nie pracowałam w kawiarni, ale rozmawiałam ze znajomą, która zna warszawską branżę gastro od podszewki i dowiedziałam się, że z reguły bariści dostają limit darmowej kawy. Nie wiem, czy gdybym pracowała 8 godzin dziennie z kawą, miałabym ochotę, podstępnie podprowadzać jeszcze tę charytatywnie zawieszoną. Jeśli rzeczywiście zjawi się armia cwaniaków, to tak jak powiedział Wieniawa - lepiej uchylić rogatywki przed dziesięcioma kurtyzanami niż ominąć jedną damę, lepiej dać coś dziesięciu cwaniakom niż pominąć kogoś naprawdę w potrzebie. Pewnie, że 8 zł to dużo jak na kawę, pewnie to tylko trochę mniej niż godzinowa stawka kelnerek, ale tym, którzy twierdzą, że lepiej kupić bezdomnemu zupę, ugotować gar rosołu, stanąć na rogu i go rozdawać, albo ufundować wór ziemniaków dla jadłodajni radzę przypomnieć sobie, kiedy ostatnio któraś z wymienionych wyżej rzeczy miała miejsce. Nie bardzo widzę, żeby to zdarzało się często. Co do skarbówki to sprawa jest zupełnie legalna: pieniądze trafiły do kasy, zostały wydane kawa i paragon, podatki są zapłacone.

Ale tak naprawdę te wszystkie kwestie nie są istotne. Owszem, kubek czegoś ciepłej kawy może doraźnie pomóc, ale tak naprawdę myślę, że chodzi o coś innego, w każdym razie w Polsce. Nie chodzi o osiąganie wymiernych skutków i analizowanie ceny kawy vs ceny worka kartofli i potrzeb czteroosobowej rodziny ze Szmulek. Myślę, że potencjał tego pomysłu leży w tym, że ludzie nagle dowiadują się, że oni też coś mogą zrobić. Że nie musisz czekać na MOPS, WOŚP i Polską Akcję Humanitarną, żeby coś zmienić. 

Ostatnia rzecz: w moich badaniach muszę zadawać ludziom kłopotliwe pytania. Socjologiczny trik polega na tym, że żeby dostać odpowiedź, zamiast pytać o to co oni sądzą, pytam ich o to, co sądzą inni ludzie. To trochę jak z piosenkami disco-polo: nikt nie lubi, wszyscy znają słowa. Wiecie: "ja nie mam nic do Ruskich ale generalnie to się ich nie lubi". Albo "ja to bym nie wziął sobie tej kawy, ale znamy tych baristów". Albo "ja tak w ogóle nie mam nic do biednych ludzi, ale..." tutaj możecie sobie dokończyć sami. 

piątek, 29 marca 2013

Task seventeen: Dance tango in Buenos Aires

First watch this:

(Antonio Banderas is the best proof that God exists and she is a woman)

So, now it's clear why, despite making a strong resolution of staying at home till I'm done with my thesis, yesterday I ended up at a milonga with a newly-met Greek guy. His name was Periklis, (which is super cool, it's like meeting an Egyptian named Tutankhamun), so waiting at him I was imagining what would happen if I welcomed him with "THIS IS SPARTAAA!!!" and I was wondering if he's going to wear a chiton. (He was actually wearing a cap and a very warm coat and turned out to be a super nice guy. Dear Periklis, if you are reading it right now, please, don't feel bad, I blame popular culture and history of ancient culture course, that I took at the 1st year of studies for my very particular image of Greeks. :-) 

Our destination was a place called Złota Milonga in Krasiński Park, and loud "welcome, beautiful madame" that I heard from an elderly gentleman at the entrance made me sure, that it was a good choice. I was expecting  to feel clumsy in the beginning, probably stepping on my partner's feet and having an epic fall at one point, but surprisingly everything went smoothly. Periklis turned out to be a patient teacher, great dancer and simply a cool guy to hang out with, he taught me some basic steps and even asserted, that I have a potential and I should develop it :-D. Well, who am I to fight against my potential? As soon as I'm done with my thesis Im gonna take a tango course. It's already decided. Yesterday I had so much fun, apparently dancing tango is the only moment when I enjoy to have a guy deciding what I do.

Under one of tango films on YouTube I found a comment: "Men should take a lesson here: take time to learn to dance. Dancing is clothed intimacy and powerful in creating connections with a woman. It is romantic, daring and very masculine. It makes you seem larger than life. I'm amazed at the men, who claim they don't like to dance yet say they love sex. There is a very little difference between the two". True story.


Najpierw obejrzyjcie to:

(Antonio Banderas jest najlepszym dowodem na to, że Bóg istnieje i że jest kobietą)

No, to teraz jest jasne dlaczego, pomimo mojego twardego postanowienia, żeby siedzieć w domu, póki nie napiszę pracy, zupełnie nieoczekiwanie wylądowałam wczoraj na milondze z nowo poznanym Grekiem. Grek nazywał się Perykles (co jest absolutnie fantastyczne, to zupełnie jak spotkać Egipcjanina o imieniu Tutenchamon) więc czekając na niego, nie mogłam się opędzić od różnych "Co by było gdybym na dzień dobry powiedziała THIS IS SPARTAAAA!!!" albo "Ciekawe czy przyjdzie w chitonie". (Przyszedł w czapce i bardzo ciepłej kurtce i okazał się przesympatycznym gościem).

Naszym celem była Złota Milonga w Parku Krasińskich a głośne "witamy piękną panią", które przywitało mnie kiedy przekroczyłam próg, utwierdziło mnie w przekonaniu, że był to dobry wybór. Byłam przekonana, że zaliczę orła na parkiecie a przynajmniej okrutnie podepczę mojego partnera, tym czasem wszystko poszło zadziwiająco gładko. Perykles jest bardzo cierpliwym nauczycielem i dobrym tancerzem, nauczył mnie podstawowych kroków a nawet stwierdził, że mam potencjał i powinnam spróbować rozwijać się w tym kieruku :-D Kimże jestem, żeby walczyć z własnym potencjałem, jak tylko napiszę pracę, zapisuję się na kurs. Postanowione. Prawdopodobnie tango jest jedyną sytuacją kiedy mam frajdę z tego, że facet decyduje co mam robić : )

Pod jednym z filmów na YouTube przeczytałam "Men should take a lesson here: take time to learn to dance. Dancing is clothed intimacy and powerful in creating connections with a woman. It is romantic, daring and very masculine. It makes you seem larger than life. I'm amazed at the men, who claim they don't like to dance yet say they love sex. There is a very little difference between the two". Cóż, nic dodać, nic ująć.

poniedziałek, 18 marca 2013

How to go to Norway, have fun and come back with both your kidneys / Jak pojechać do Norwegii, mieć z tego frajdę i wrócić z obiema nerkami

When Chodak (who happens to be my ex scout leader and a friend) and I decided to go for a spontaneous hitch-hiking trip to Catalunya, we had quite a limited budget. Frankly speaking we were in the red, so during ten days of our trip, sleeping in Couch Surfing and hitch-hiking, we managed to master a useful skill of budget travelling. We mastered it so much, that one day, when we spent 1,35 EUR per person in total, Chodak granted me with a honorary Scrooge scout badge.

It was slightly more difficult with Norway, however, with reasonable planning, it's possible to limit spendings without selling any of your internal organs.  

1. Transportation
The maneuver I performed may be difficult to repeat. For a flight from Warsaw to Oslo I paid 1,02 PLN, which is 0,25 EUR. For a flight to Tromso and back I paid 60% of what it should cost, because Norwegian put their tickets on sale. It's good to follow newest Ryanair promotions, Warsaw-Oslo flights often cost around 39 PLN (10 EUR). It's slightly more difficult to get to Tromso. The cheapest airline that can get you there is Norwegian, and when I write "cheap" i mean "Norwegian cheap" not "Ryanair cheap". There is no railway in the far North and getting there by car will take 21 hours. I decided to stay for a night in Oslo, the rest of our group joined me on the next day after a short intermediate landing in Gardermoen. If you want to stay in the city, you have to take into account:
  • Getting from Oslo Rygge to the downtown by a shuttle bus, probably with a Polish driver - 120 NOK (I paid 80 NOK, just because the driver seemed to have some sort of a paternal instinct towards me. I really hope it was paternal instinct.). 
  • Getting from the Oslo Sentralstasjon to wherever you want to go by public transportation -  30 NOK for a single-fare ticket, 50 NOK, if you buy it on board. You can buy them in every Seven Eleven (I chose walking, Oslo is small)
  • Getting from Oslo Sentralstasjon (central railway station) to Oslo Gardermoen airport with the national railway operator NSB - around 90 NOK, unless one decides to take a super-duper Flytoget train named Airport Express. For a 170 NOK you will have a luxurious 22 minutes journey by train that has flight attendants and safety instruction cards (true story!). Norwegian railway accepts non-Norwegian students IDs, NSB would give you some discounts and Flytoget charges you half price, if you're a student. 
Timetables and prices are accessible HERE

Unmistakeably Norwegian

2. Food and stimulants
Even Lonely Planet says, that it's wise to take your own food when going to Norway. It may not be healthy, but it's budget-friendly to live on pasta with instant sauces, instant soups and other instant crap for ten days.
Luckilly, there is First Price. First Price is a kiss from the God to all budget travellers in Norway. They sell all basic products in prices comparable to ours. You can find it in EuroSpar supermarkets and probably also in REMA1000. The discovery of our trip was a brown cheese called Flotemysost, that smells like sour toffee mixed with peanut butter, looks like plasticine and tastes good with literally EVERYTHING: 

Booze is super expensive and alcohol sales law is very strict. Low-percentage alcohol can be bought in grocery stores Monday-Friday till 8 pm and on Saturdays till 6 pm. Liquors and vodkas are sold only in special stores (weekdays till 6 pm, on Saturdays till 3 pm). Alcohol sale is prohibited on Sunday. Instead of buying cigarettes, you can act like a local and use snus. It's tobacco in small, celulose bags, you have to place it under your upper lip and it really kicks. It used to be popular amongst sailors, it's traditionally a 'guys thing' to use snus. If women use tobacco in Norway, they smoke it, that's why the lung cancer rate is higher amongst Norwegian women than Norwegian men. A pack of snus is around 70 NOK.

Booze is behind that curtain. Don't get tricked, contrary to what it says it's
 not "Arctic Water". Unless it's Arctic-you-know-what-I-mean-Water.

3. Accomodation
Couch Surfing in Tromso simply doesn't work, especially during Northern Lights high season. I wrote nice personal couch requests to fifty people and I got only three answers, all of them negative. I sort of understand it, surfers can be really pushy and demanding these days, no wonder that hosts don't want to deal with them. There are also just too little hosts and too many surfers. Accomodation is really expensive here. There are no hostels and the cheapest place, that we managed to find was a city camping. We paid around 230 NOK per night per person and we got really lovely and neat wooden cabin with fully equipped kitchen, bathroom and TV. Good value for money. It's a bit far away from the city center and a walk takes around 4 minutes, but it's a nice walk and  we had no problem getting there and back by foot.

The best Norwegian cabin ever. 

4. Admission fees and additional attractions
Museums in Tromso are not mind-blowing. Okay, maybe they are for fans of stuffed bears and styrofoam-y ice blocks. However, it's worth to see them anyway, because let's face it: in a town with 60 thousand inhabitants, there is very limited amount of attractions. It's good to come to Tromso around National Saami Day (February 6th), mostly because of accompanying events, such as Midnight Sun Marathon including Reindeer Racing Championship, Norwegian Lasso Throwing Championship and Saami Market. (More about Midnight Sun Marathon)

  • The Polar Cathedral looks nice, but come on, we come from a country, where  churches look like hens, so you need more than a pretty cathdral to impress us.
  • Polaria Museum - a whole variety of tickets. Adults - 120 NOK, students - 70 NOK. 
  • Polar Museum (property of Tromso University) - Adults 50 NOK, students 25 NOK. I particularly recommend seing Hjalmar Johannsen's long johns:

You never know when you become a famous polar explorer and parts of
 your  underwear will be worshipped by crowds of foreign tourists.

5. Aurora chasing
You can't see the lights every night. Even if they appear, the sky may just be too cloudy to see them and the glow from the city lights may be too strong to see them properly. If you're ready to pay 1200 NOK and have super cool pics, you can subscribe for an aurora chasing trip. It's a night bus trip and basically the bus is   chasing clear skies and Northern Lights. No one can guarantee that there will be aurora in the sky, but your chances significantly grow, when you have handsome and charming guide Francesco by your side. It takes few hours and for most of the time the team looks for a right spot, either on the coast or in the mountains. On the spot guides and photographers hired by the company will help you with the camera settings. Temperatures can get as low as -25 C, but you can always come back to the bus and have a cup of hot chocolate and cookies provided by the tour company. There are plenty of trips like this. You can combine aurora chasing with dog or raindeer sledding, ship cruise, staying in a traditional Saami lavvu tent, riding Icelandic horses and many other things. The price is a killer, even my Noregian friends said that it's expensive (if Norwegians say so, it really means something), but you can live with it if you don't think about it too much. For photographing aurora we were adviced to set our cameras for ISO 1600, aperture f/4 and shutter speed 15''.

6. Internet and information
Computers with Internet access can be found in the public library (Grønnegata 94) and in tourist information office (Kirkegata 2). Tourist Information also provides up to date Northern Lights forecasts. During our stay, it was stage 3 on 10-stages scale and it looked like this: 

7. Packlist
  • Mandatory: skipants
  • Hiking waterproof boots
  • Tripod. Snowpod won't work, trust me
  • Food
  • Woolen socks
  • Vacuum flask
  • Student ID


Kiedy pojechałyśmy z Chodakiem na zupełnie spontaniczny wyjazd autostopowy do Katalonii, miałyśmy dość ograniczony budżet. Konkretnie obie byłyśmy pod kreską, toteż w ciągu dziesięciu dni, podróżując stopem i śpiąc w CouchSurfingu, udało nam się do perfekcji opanować trudną sztukę budget traveling, do tego stopnia, że kiedy pewnego dnia wydałyśmy po 1,35 EUR na osobę, Chodak przyznała mi honorową sprawność Scrooge'a. 

Z Norwegią było trudniej, ale mimo wszystko z rozsądnym planowaniem da się ograniczyć koszty na tyle, żeby nie trzeba było sprzedawać organów wewnętrznych:

1. Transport
Manewru, który zrobiłam, nie da się raczej powtórzyć. Za bilet Warszawa-Oslo zapłaciłam 1,02 PLN, za lot do Trømso i z powrotem 60% ceny, bo Norwegian ogłosił promocję. Tym niemniej, warto śledzić promocje Ryanaira, bo często loty do Oslo kosztują ok. 39 zł. Trasa z Warszawy do Oslo to ta łatwiejsza część, bo do regionu Nordland, w którym leży Trømso, nie dojeżdża prawie nic. Nie dojeżdżają tam pociągi, ani nie latają tam żadne niskokosztowe linie oprócz Norwegiana, (którego niskokosztowość można, mimo wszystko, kwestionować), jazda samochodem zajmuje natomiast 21 godzin. Ja zostałam na noc w Oslo, reszta grupy doleciała następnego dnia z krótkim międzylądowaniem w Gardermoen.
Jeśli chce się tak jak ja nocować w mieście, trzeba wliczyć w budżet:
  • Dojazd z Oslo Moss do centrum miasta busikiem z polskimi kierowcami - 120 NOK (zapłaciłam 80, ale tylko dlatego, że panu kierowcy włączył się instynkt ojcowski). 
  • Ewentualne jeżdżenie po mieście - ok 30 NOK za jednorazowy bilet komunikacji miejskiej, 50 NOK, jeśli kupi się go u kierowcy. Bilety do kupienia w Seven Eleven. (chodziłam na piechotę, Oslo jest małe)
  • Dojazd z Oslo Sentralstasjon (centralnej stacji kolejowej) na lotnisko Oslo Gardermoen narodowym operatorem NSB - ok 90 NOK, chyba, że weźmie się ekstra pociąg Flytoget, czyli Airport Express. Podróż zajmuje wtedy 22 minuty i kosztuje 170 NOK. Norweska kolej honoruje polskie legitymacje studenckie, przy czym w NSB zniżki sięgają kilkudziesięciu procent a we Flytoget płaci się pół ceny. 
No i oczywiście warto pamiętać, że 1 NOK = 0,54 PLN.
Ceny przejazdów pociągami do sprawdzenia TU

2. Jedzenie i używki
Nawet Lonely Planet twierdzi, że najlepiej brać ze sobą własne oprowiantowanie. Przez tydzień da się jeść makaron z sosami instant, Gorące Kubki i Słodkie Chwile, chociaż w połowie piątego dnia zaczyna się świecić w ciemności. Na szczęście istnieje marka First Price, która jest przyjacielem każdego turysty i sprzedaje podstawowe produkty w cenach zbliżonych do naszych. Można ją znaleźć na pewno w supermarketach EuroSpar i chyba w REMA1000. Odkryciem wyjazdu był dla nas brązowy ser Fløtemysost, który smakuje jak toffi, pachnie jak ser, jest konsystencji plasteliny i pasuje do wszystkiego:

Alkohol jest okrutnie drogi i objęty restrykcyjnymi regulacjami dotyczącymi sprzedaży. Niskoprocentowe alkohole można kupić w sklepach spożywczych w tygodniu do 20:00 a w soboty do 18:00. Wysokoprocentowe alkohole są sprzedawane w specjalnych sklepach monopolowych, w tygodniu do 18:00, w soboty do 15:00. W niedziele alkoholu nie sprzedaje się w ogóle. Zamiast papierosów warto być jak prawdziwy wikiński twardziel i kupić snus, tytoń w torebkach, który wkłada się pod górną wargę i który dość mocno trzepie. Kiedyś był popularny wśród marynarzy, tradycyjnie to męska rozrywka, kobiety jeśli korzystają z tytoniu, to palą papierosy, dlatego odsetek raka płuc jest znacznie wyższy u Norweżek niż u Norwegów. Paczka snusu kosztuje około 70 NOK.

Mimo mylących napisów, za zasłonką jest zakazany po 20:00 alkohol

3. Zakwaterowanie
W Trømso nie działa Couch Surfing, szczególnie w sezonie na zorze. Na 50 osób do których pisałam osobiste Couch Requesty odpowiedziały mi trzy, wszystkie negatywnie. Problem jest taki, że jest tam mało hostów a masa turystów, więc dla mieszkańców jest to dość męczące. Z reguły zakwaterowanie jest dość drogie. W mieście nie ma hosteli, najtańszy nocleg, który udało się nam znaleźć był na miejskim kempingu. Za równowartość ok 115 zł za osobonoc dostałyśmy bardzo przyzwoitą "value for money" - schludny drewniany domek dla 5 osób, z łazienką, w pełni wyposażoną kuchnią i telewizorem. Polecam rezerwowanie chatki z łazienką i kuchnią, to żadna frajda wracać spod prysznica z niedosuszonymi włosami przy -15. Kemping jest oddalony od centrum miasta o 3 kilometry, czyli około 45-minutowy spacer. Wbrew pozorom nie jest to dużo, nie miałyśmy problemu z pokonywaniem tego dystansu nawet kilka razy dziennie, a widoki z mostu, który łączy wyspę z lądem są niesamowite.

Najlepsza norweska chatka ever.

4. Bilety wstępu i dodatkowe atrakcje
Muzea w Trømso nie powalają. To znaczy być może powalają fanów wypchanych niedźwiedzi i styropianowch bloków lodu. Tym niemniej stanowią ciekawe urozmaicenie, bo spójrzmy prawdzie w oczy, w 60-tysięcznym miasteczku istneje ograniczona ilość atrakcji. Warto trafić w Saami Week, tydzień kultury lapońskiej, który jest zawsze w okolicach National Sami Day (6 lutego), głównie ze względu na malownicze wyścigi reniferów i lapońskie targowisko.

  • Katedra Polarna jest owszem, estetyczna, ale jako, że jesteśmy z kraju, w którym kościoły wyglądają jak kury, specjalnie nie rzuciła nas na kolana. Na pewno nie na tyle, żeby płacić za oglądanie jej od środka.
  • Muzeum Polaria - cały wachlarz cen biletów (dorośli, studenci, dzieci, rodziny). Dorośli: 120 NOK, studenci 70 NOK
  • Muzeum Polarne Uniwersytetu w Trømso - Dorośli 50 NOK, studenci 25 NOK. Szczególnie polecam kalesony Hjalmara Johannsena:

Nigdy nie wiesz, kiedy zostaniesz sławnym polarnikiem, a twoją bieliznę
z nabożną czcią będą oglądać turyści.

5. Aurora chasing
Nie każdej nocy można zobaczyć zorze. Jeśli jednak są, może się zdarzyć, że zachmurzenie jest zbyt duże, żeby je zobaczyć, a łuna nad miastem psuje efekt. Jeśli chce się mieć super zdjęcia i jest się w stanie odżałować 1200 NOK, można zapisać się na aurora chasing, czyli nocną wycieczkę autokarem w poszukiwaniu czystego nieba i zórz. Nikt nie może zagwarantować obserwacji zorzy, ale szanse znacząco rosną, kiedy ma się pod ręką przystojnego przewodnika o imieniu Francesco (przy czym nawet, jak zorzy zupełnie nie będzie, to widoki i tak są atrakcyjne, zwłaszcza dla damskiej części grupy). Wycieczka trwa kilka godzin, przez większość czasu szuka się odpowiedniego miejsca na obserwację - na wybrzeżu albo w głębi lądu. Na miejscu przewodnicy i fotografowie opłaceni przez organizatora pomagają ustawić parametry aparatów. Temperatury sięgają -25 stopni, ale można schować się do autokaru, organizatorzy zapewniają też ciastka i gorącą czekoladę. Takich wycieczek jest masa, można połączyć zorze z jazdą zaprzęgiem reniferów/psów, rejsem, popasem w tradycyjnym lapońskim namiocie lavvu, nocną jazdą na kucach islandzkich i innymi cudami na kiju.
Nasz organizator ma biuro w hotelu Radisson Blu i generalnie byłyśmy zadowolone z jego usług.
Zgodnie z radami przewodnika zdjęcia robiłyśmy na ustawieniach: ISO 1600, 15'' i f/4.

6. Internet i informacja
Komputery z dostępem do Internetu można znaleźć w bibliotece miejskiej (Grønnegata 94) i w informacji turystycznej (Kirkegata 2). W informacji można też dowiedzieć się o aktualne prognozy zórz polarnych. Podczas naszego pobytu były maksymalnie 3 stopnie na 10-stopniowej skali aktywności, w praktyce wyglądało to tak:

Prognozę zórz, również dla Europy, można sprawdzić na stronie Instytutu Geofizyki Uniwersytetu Alaski w Fairbanks.

7. Packlista
  • Obowiązkowo spodnie narciarskie
  • Buty z bieżnikiem (nie wszystkie ulice są odśnieżane)
  • Statyw - a must
  • Jedzenie
  • Ciepłe wełniane skarpetki
  • Termos
  • Legitymacja studencka