Sunday, August 23, 2009

Next Stop Auschwitz


(August 23, 2009 - Krakow, Poland)
It was gray and rainy when I entered the lobby of the Hotel Lord in Dębica, Poland. I had parked my bike under an awning to keep it as dry as possible but I knew from experience that I was going to have a fight on my hands getting her started. I didn't even bother putting my gear on.

I was soaked by the time I pushed life back into my motorcycle. Not to mention I was a good half kilometer away from the hotel. Wet, freezing, and out of breath I puttered back to the hotel to prepare for today's journey. I had a lot of kilometers ahead of me and the weather wasn't going to make it easier. I choked down three Turkish coffees while I dried off using hotel towels. I wasn't worried about my bike overheating as it idled in the parking lot. The weather was damp and crisp. Good for an air-cooled engine, bad for the pilot. I put on my limited rain gear. I didn't have any boots so I tucked my feet into plastic bags and put my shoes on over them. Today wasn't a fashion show to say the least.

I had looked at the road ahead on the hotel internet. I had about twelve hundred kilometers ahead of me and I was running out of time. My trip was coming to an end.

I went to turn out of the parking lot and my back end swung wildly out nearly flinging me off my bike. I decided to take a look at my back tire. I knew it was losing tread but I didn't want to see how bad it was because it might shake my confidence. Changing rear tires at the point in the trip wasn't even an option. I examined my tire, there was still some tread on most of it but I could see the steel showing through on patches of it. A smart man wouldn't have taken a chance of riding on this but I never professed to be all that smart so I continued forth.

I was nearing Krakow and I decided that I couldn't come this far and not stop at Auschwitz. I was making good time and I did need to stop for gas anyways. Besides, riding in the rain was making me cold and miserable. I really needed to stop and warm up.

I left the highway and followed the signs. It was pretty easy to find my way to this terrible place. I just followed the people. When I arrived at the gates I got a chill down my spine. I was actually glad that I didn't have time to tour about the compound because that gave me a good excuse to get out of here. I drove around the outside stopping here and there and that was enough for me. People who know me can understand this. Being near the place that dispatched so many human lives was overwhelming to my psyche. I had to go and I had to go now! I got on my bike and put this place behind me.

My mood was gloomy to say the least. The images of what had taken place at the concentration camps filled my mind and darkened my soul. I am by no means a 'new age' kind of guy but I can honestly say I have never been so filled with negative energy. As I headed up to the highway I had a sense of foreboding weighing me down. I couldn't shake the feeling and I knew if I wasn't so angry I would probably be crying right now. I was having troubles focusing on the road and the traffic around me. I should never have stopped there.


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