says the Polish announcement at 8:50 - an hour and a half out of Warsaw. We came to a jerking stop in the middle of nowhere. Although we have not gone very far from Warsaw, it's probably too far to walk back. Lots of hammering sounds. Snow everywhere. A barn in the distance but no sign of life. Probably 20 miles back to Warsaw. I could turn on my GPS and figure out where we are.... Suddenly we start up again after a 15 minute stop. I have a 13 minute layover changing trains in Sestokai. But that's at 2:57pm. Surely we will make it up. Strange that we are going this entire leg with almost everyone riding backwards. We make a scheduled stop at Makinia. We are supposed to pull out at 9:00 but it is 9:19. I hope we make up the lost time.
Almost flat land slumbering under a thick blanket of snow except where rivers and streams cross our path. All marginally out of their banks and then frozen in place. The Polish use their land - far different from the French who husband it.
Thank goodness the train's heater works well. The ride is rougher than the rides in France on the SNCF, Transillian, or TGV and much slower but the seats are similar to those French trains - very different from the trains here I have ridden on before. After that stop we are zipping along. GPS says 75mph! 9:44 departure from Szepietowo scheduled at 9:28. 3 of the 19 minutes made up. 12 minutes late leaving Ally. We are making up the lost time. 5 hours to make up 12 minutes and the conductor is working on it. Biaystock - more banging on and shaking of the train. We sit seemingly a long time. Supposed to leave at 10:22am. We leave at 10:39. I have no Plan B if I don't make the connection.
Next stop: Czarna - what a name! - we've made up a minute. 16 minutes late.
It is a terrible thing to be Polish. Caught between the "motherland" of Russia and the "fatherland" of Germany its history is one of seeming endless wars on its soil as marauding, pillaging, raping, destroying, abominations of genocidal hordes swarm out of the steppes and plains to the east dashing to avenge their villages which were similarly devastated by Germanic hordes seeking what their (and our) governments always seek: power and money and land: a frenetic testosterone-driven rampage following close on the heels of the last one and quickly followed by the next. More and more in a bloodlust unquenchable and immune to logic, reason...humanity. Just pure hate-driven evil. All across Poland the armies have trampled exhausting their blood and treasure - akin to the reactionary vitriol that spews on our Muslim brothers and sisters who had the misfortune to be the source of Amerikan enmity. That Poland's people - its survivors - are industrious can be no surprise as only the most industrious could survive the infernos to pass on their genes. Not beauty. Not gentility. Not aspirants. Only those who are industrious. Add to that mix the cancer of the rule-based Antichrist organization known as the Catholic Church which commands -in the name of my Savior who constantly condemned their rule-making and gave the Most Precious Life to set us free from Satan's grip- that in every respite from war the crowds are to be recreated and launched again in pogroms and invasions back and forth. It is a terrible thing to be Polish. I would not survive here on my own. I can't imagine the terrors facing young Polish women as the cannons rumble...approaching from afar. But I understand why they reach for the Risen Savior - if only they were not often blocked by ancient pedophilic priests and higher ups concerned only with show and personal perquisites. God has forgiven me; so I can request no less for others....
Our next scheduled stop was Sokolka. We arrived 17 minutes after our scheduled departure. And left 60 seconds later. They are trying to get us to Sestokai in time. At D'browa we had made up 2 minutes. 3 hours to train change. 16+ minutes to make up. Here we go. 56 mph
It's amazing how sometimes the obvious I overlook. Sestokai is the border. I changed trains there 2+ years ago. There is a train there, sitting empty on the narrow gauge (formerly) Russian tracks. We just get off this train, walk across the tracks, and get on that train. Once that is done, the train in Lithuania leaves. Then the issue is the train change in Kaunas. I have 15 minutes to change to the 5p train. It's not far. If I miss that connection there surely is another. I'd get some Litas from an ATM (?), buy a Lithuanian sim card, and call my friends to tell them I am late. No problem.
Now imagine this: I am on an all day Polish train which has 25-30 cars and there are NO refreshments sold anywhere on the train. I'm glad I loaded up on sandwiches and bottled water for the trip - just in case - before I left Warsaw this morning. Even more strange: I discover that Poland's National Poem - "Pan Tadeusz" - begins with the words "Oh Lithuania, my Fatherland....". It's written by a poet from Belarus.
Suddenly a conductor and a woman frantically race through the car just after we left our most recent stop. The train stops and she gets off - a mile from town. I guess she overslept and missed her stop so the driver stops the train that is trying to make up lost time so this frantic woman can get off. She races back, gathers her stuff, and exits.
Ah, Suwalki - I remember YOU well. My last visit here everyone got off the train, the heater was turned off, and no one was in sight. This time it's not dark, people stayed on the train, and we left - again going back in the direction from which we just came - only 7 minutes late. I THINK Sestokai is on Lithuanian time which means it's an hour away. If not, then 2 hours. It will be nice getting back to Lithuania. Too many Russian ghosts here.
4 minutes late into and out of Trakiszki
We made it - no problem. And the train for the last hour into Vilnius is very clean and modern. Completely unlike the train I took 2+ years ago. I'm less than an hour away so I'll end this post here and pick up blogging about my friends in Vilnius.
In the photo inside the train that's my bag at my seat - the train is not crowded!