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Posts Tagged ‘Bieszczady’

There are no mountains in Poland. After hearing this statement numerous times, my Aunty decided to take my sister and I and show us this was not true. We headed for the south-eastern corner of Poland, for a mountain range known as Bieszczady, slipped between Poland, Ukraine, and Slovakia. Different and smaller than the Canadian mountains I am used to, they are one of Poland’s big attractions, being a National Park in Poland. These mountains are held close to the heart for many nature lovers, and to many people in my family.

My dad, who values nature above all others I’ve met, fell in love with these mountains, so to speak. The only mountains close to home, during his university years he made many trips there with friends. I think this only made his love of nature grow, or maybe reminded him time and time again how beautiful it is. It was his get-away. Last time he came to Poland, however, he didn’t want to go back to Bieszczady because, after living in Canada for 20 years, my dad had seen many different and greater mountains, more grand, wild, and wonderful than any he’d seen before. He didn’t want his memory of Bieszczady to be any less than it was. I think he’s slowly been changing his mind however. No matter what he’s seen, it’ll always be a special place for him. Before Dorothy and I left, he started telling us all about these mountains, and the trips him and his friends went on, the peace they found there. Now, I am waiting till he returns home (he’s in the middle of nowhere right now, working) so I can tell him that we went. I think next time he’s in Poland he will make a trip back.

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Anyways, enough family-related talk. The mountains are beautiful, but in a different way than the mountains where I come from are. They are covered in mainly deciduous trees of all colours, being autumn. Yellows, browns, golds, oranges, and all hues in between. The reds were just starting to happen. There is hill after hill of these colours. At the top, it is barren of trees, covered in shrubs and grasses. It’s incredibly windy, and the mountains appear more green than the colours viewed from the bottom. In the middle of summer, I’m told, they appear a true, vivid, Irish green though right now it was more of a faded colour. Though lower in elevation, they are widely spread out and barren at the top. I think Canada’s mountains are more jagged, wild, and weathered than these and greater in size. They are covered in mainly evergreens, or the scraggly kind of trees that you find on some mountain tops because of the decrease in oxygen. Or snow-topped, depending on the elevation.

Still, the walk up was the same. Just as hard, and just as rewarding. My Aunty kept asking us if this was different than what we had in Canada. And in some ways, it was. The views, scenery, and atmosphere[1] was different. But even if it was exactly the same, I would still enjoy it just as much. Because I don’t hike for the pleasure of seeking new things, hiking is the same routinely process. Back home, I hike the same mountains regularly. Because I love the feeling (the views, too, of course) but it’s mainly the journey. It never gets old. No matter how hard the hike, I enjoy bringing this challenge on myself, and the success I feel at the top. The five (more or less) hours that are entirely mine.

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Referring back to the different atmosphere, another big difference about these mountains was that you have to pay. You have to pay to hike. (How ridiculous is that?) You pay for the journey, to be able to see the beauty that was given to us from God. I think these mountains, among other places, should be open for everyone. It doesn’t feel right to have to pay. But they are a National Park of Poland. And an attraction to many. I can see in someone’s eyes, the profits he/she envisioned. And when you see money, why not? It’s a trap many fall into.

We (we, being my aunt, my cousin, my sister, and I) hiked two mountain tops. There’s enough there to keep you busy for two weeks, my Aunt says, but we only had two days. The first day, starting at about 3pm because we arrived later in the day (had to drive a few hours to get there) we hiked the smallest mountain top. The next day, we hiked the one of highest elevation. I liked the buildup, the “warm-up” that was the first day.

Here’s one of the many signposts, suggesting different routes you can take.Image

After the first day, going to bed, I felt really happy. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but I’m glad to be here. And I am happy to be where I’m at. All my past choices, big and small, the decision to come to Poland, everything feels right. It was a really good feeling to have no regrets, about everything. To just be happy to be where I am.

My Polish is improving daily. It feels so good. I know I still have a lot to go, every day the journey ahead seems to expand, but I’m feeling more confident. My thoughts are even becoming Polish. I may not speak as much as I used to, but my mind is working twice as hard. Words come to me that I may not have heard in years, and I learn new words that I may never have heard. School starts in less than a week. I can’t wait for the training in reading and writing because I feel that’s where I’m most lacking. I just can’t wait for a lot of things right now, actually. But I’m proud of myself for how far I’ve come; for throwing myself into this pool of the unknown and for wading through it. Things feel good.

Joanna


[1] The atmosphere referring to the people. There were tons of people hiking. And they all held these mountains with such fascination. Back home, you are nearly alone when hiking. It is more isolated, more personal a journey. You are not saying “Dziendobry” or “Czesc” to every person you pass.

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