Sunday, 2 August 2009

I didn't make it to Auschwitz

So, on my little detour / pilgrimage (in memory of ALL involved) to Poland to see Auschwitz it was terribly fitting that I should have a sufferfest too. The similarities to the jews struggles and my own are tenuous but worth mentioning all the same. It has been the only day that I haven't enjoyed so far. Having no water or food on a bike for hours can do that!! :oD

At the Czech border I left my entourage (for the story consider them my family), being split to go in different directions not knowing where either will end up. The sun was beating down as I trudged towards the old concentration camp. The wind blew into my face, at times I had to pedal to get down hill - my own three pronged whip (ego) beat me to go faster and get there before nightfall.

Initially I felt hope that I would be watered and fed. But my bank has put my cards on hold coz money has been withdrawn abroad (that's coz I've been withdrawing it!!! Arrgghhh.) So couldn't withdraw money, the shops wouldn't accept czech money, euro or pound. (I tried all three - no reaction to all). So I became thirsty, I had one very dry old bread roll in my bag which I tried to eat but the thick spit in my mouth wouldn't wash it down. No one offered me help, as most of the population of caring Germans and Polish felt whilst the Jews walked through their towns villages, they were probably scared of the consequences. (I am looking quite scary and beardy at the mo). Those who offered food to the Jews as they were paraded past there houses were beaten, those who helped them up when they collapsed were again beaten (or worse).

I tried to lighten my mood by hooting my horn, singing, whistling - being cheery to the Poles had no reaction. Those travelling in the opposite direction simply kept there heads down, or looked upon me with glazed eyes without moving a facial muscle, when I hooted my horn their eyes narrowed. Those talking in doorways moved inside and shut shutters when I travelled past. It was eery.

(I have to note here that I did make an emergency turn into the Czech Republic as i was near the border to buy mars bars, coke and water. I'm sure the Jews were not allowed such luxuries!!

I kept plodding on as the sun moved to my back and then behind the horizon (I am one stubborn man) and when I realised I'd taken I wrong turn up a motorway in the opposite direction (I wondered where all those cars came from) I trudged back the exact same way as dark settled in for the night and I had to stop at a hotel 20km away. 200km and no cigar. But good mileage. :o)

Created in 1939 after the German invasion 3 million people (mostly Jews) were killed in the concentration camp. Normally in gas chambers. They lived in shacks in the camps doing hard labour in terrible conditions with no hygiene and poor nutrition.

Comparing my suffering today on a bike ride I chose to make to the above is almost a sin. It's incredibly sad and in my weakened state it has put a tear in my eye. I'm hungry - so I'm going to the restaurant, I'm thirsty - I'll probably sup on a soft drink or as much water as I like, then I'll lie down in a soft bed and sleep till I fancy living my dream again.....

Please please please remember how lucky you are!! We are!!

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