Goodbye, Poznan

I write this article while I have a suitcase 80 centimeters from me and everything ready to leave Poznan in just a few hours. These last months and, especially, these last weeks have been such a wild ride that it is even ironic how they can end so quietly. It seems like if the city was already in peace with the idea of another bunch of volunteers going back home and ready for the next, but it is a nice feeling, Poznan will be always a friend to us.

Last week was by far the most emotional; most of us had no activities and were more focused on the preparations to leave the country, the usual stuff: cleaning room, fighting to fit things inside a suitcase, closing bank accounts and start the long list of people to say farewell to. This was during the week, but our organization had something special reserved for the weekend, three days in the lake, enjoying the sun and also the possibility to live the Summer Solstice in the middle of nature.

I am going to be honest, I didn’t want to go but I felt that it was my responsibility to enjoy these last days with my fellow volunteers. Camping is not for me, I jumped at the sight of any insect and I become completely paranoid about mosquitoes, but still I went there, ready to commune with nature and others. I think I was able to do it.

We arrived to the lake in Imiolki without Beka and Keti, our Georgian volunteers. Beka became sick just that weekend and Keti was traveling and saying bye to the country on her own. Well, there was nothing we could do about it and we brought also Polish friends with us so we were ready to enjoy nature to the fullest. In my case, I was excited to take a kayak and go around the lake. I did kayaking for years and I take any chance to move through water for hours.

Storms came while we were still on the kayak and the feeling of the rain drops on the water still as a plate became one of my fondest memories of this country. First, it drizzled while the clouds were grey and menacing, then, it started to rain fast and quietly like a summer shower that covered the lake and then it became harder. We reached the beach and put the kayak to a side, my friend Aga and I were completely soaked in water already and we decided to swim under the rain, another memory I will take to Spain.

During the day people prepared the flower crowns for Kupala Night, a Slavic tradition associated with the solstice in which people jump over bonfires and women throw these crowns to the water hoping to find sign of their love life, I even wore my own crown. Night fell, even if it took long, and we were around the bonfire.

Next day, during the evening we moved to another part of the lake to celebrate this Slavic tradition but we didn’t move to any lake, we were in the same place where Poland was baptized and left behind its pagan ways. It was a political movement that has his repercussions even today, when Poland is one of the most catholic countries in Europe and there are pictures of the Pope everywhere.

I became completely hypnotized by the traditional dancing, so different from the ones in Galicia and Spain. It felt magical to be there, receiving so much from Polish and Slavic culture in such a special date and it also helped killing my homesickness. That same weekend was Saint John’s night which has a great following in my city where thousands and thousands of people go the beaches to jump over the fire and be pagan for one evening. I couldn’t stop to see the similarities and the differences while I looked at the children wearing their crowns; I was so fascinated by everything. This was another memory I will take to Spain.

We came back the next day, full of mosquito bites and tired of sleeping in a tent but I couldn’t complain, it was a nice way to say bye to Poland. During the voluntary service, it is easy to get into a routine of places to go every week, shopping groceries, doing your tasks and, occasionally, traveling to different places. This weekend showed me a different way to see the country in a moment I thought I wasn’t going to see anything new.

The time has passed since I started this article and my suitcase is still close and in a few hours I will take a bus and leave Poznan. The suitcase refuses to close nicely and I’m sure it is beyond the weight allowed by the airline but it doesn’t matter, my room is completely empty and in a month or so it will be filled by a Polish person. Volunteers come and go but we have left a mark in our way, I hope. We are not the drizzle on the lake but the memory of swimming under the rain.

Oh my goodness, this is so poetic and this was supposed to be just a report about the camping but it is normal to get emotional when you are about to carry more than 25 kilos of luggage. 

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