Quo vadis?

I think that each of us can see some watershed moments. They are often relatively short but extremely important events. They are associated primarily with joys, but often remain colored with sadness. I think that if anyone ask about it a passerby on the street, he/she would have mention at least two-three such moments without any hesitation. However, it happens – and it is not isolated at all – that we mature to a particular moment in life, sometimes for months and years. Then, one day we simply wake up with a strange feeling of participation in something new; that the rays of the sun on the wall look different, that I understood an anecdote heard years ago; the memory of the book read long time ago emerged from the abyss of memory and prompted “read again, then you will understand”. Something unusual, new and disturbing occurred in my life; kind of change. I’m different. Better? Worst? Poorer? Or maybe richer? Just different. After a while, I am familiar with the situation and look back. I can see this point, which, although unnoticed till now, have decided about where I am and what I do – here and now.

One morning in August I woke up slightly stunned by both – the heat in the house and sleep. By a strange dream, on the verge of a hyperrealistic vision and nightmare. It was a difficult time in my life, a kind of a bend, although it was closer to alpine switchbacks. There was no way to pursue your passions. Only the thick volume Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry saved me from complete corrosion of my mind. A beautiful book about a very long way – real and symbolic. For the aim of which the travellers had a very hazy idea, but they took a chance.

Something sparkled this morning. Suddenly, a stream of thoughts passed through my head, and I have made another coffee right after drinking one. Such a power. Act, read, search, write, call, realize – something inside me suggested.

I started to search, quite in the dark, nervously, chaotically – as always a dozen or so tabs on the browser toolbar, and it still comes. I have a pretty good sense of smell, so I quickly got to where I wanted. I remember a few telephone conversations that were crucial in my life – it was one of them.

I signed up for training on a tourist guide to the south-eastern subregion of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship. Nothing special, right? Right, a course just like an ordinary one. Many of us go to courses and trainings not necessarily interesting and needed.

The training cycle was organized by the West Pomeranian Agency for Tourism Development. It was possible to take part primarily in training on a off-road guide throughout the entire province, or one of four subregions: north-west, north-east, south-west and south-east. As luck would have it, I’m totally in love with the south-eastern areas of our province, and there are only a few places left in there. The beginning was planned for the middle of September, and the main meeting place was beautiful Szczecinek. Every dog has his day! – I thought.

In its foundations, the training meant to be multi-sided: from the basics of group psychology and dealing with difficult situations during the guide’s job, through art history classes and geography in general to off-road trips – icing on the cake. The program itself seemed very attractive. Program as a program, formalities as formalities. I will leave it on the side, because it is not important in the final analysis. The most important ones are people.

During the first group meeting, it turned out that there were no random people among us. Not only that: for the first time in my life I felt such a strong sense of community in the group; that we got there to broaden our horizons, gain experience and, finally, also a certificate to start working as a tourist guide. Most of us are people who live permanently in the region where the training was concerned.

From Czaplinek we had a strong group, represented by Jola, Gosia and Marta.

From Borne Sulinowo were Wiola and Mirek.

Barwice and its beautiful surroundings had representatives in Agnieszka and Wojtek.

The most numerous group was obviously from Szczecinek. Our hosts were Ania, Iwona, Bernadeta, Ewa, Paulina and Mateusz.

Roman has been driving for each lessons from Chrzanów, which is quite a few hundred kilometers from Szczecinek. Danusia and Gienek joined us straight from the seaside: Gąski.

I was the only one from Koszalin.

Here we are:

By the Otter Block in Drawa National Park with Mr Tomasz Duda.

Most of the stationary classes took place in the walls of the revitalized Castle in Szczecinek, in rooms with amazing views of the Trzesiecko Lake. Here we have learned, among other things, the basics of the guide’s work, as well as important information about both history and geography of Pomerania. In addition, in a very interesting lecture, the legal aspects of tourism in Poland and the operation of tourist guides were presented to us. An extremely instructive lesson.

However, in order to be a guide, you need to get to know the area where you want to tour. Therefore, the main points of the course were trips. If it comes to trips, it has to be a bus. In the bus…

 …numerous discussions and conversations. And a lot of laughter!

Well, for most of our trips, our trainers have developed a list of topics related to the region we were moving on. Each of us drew lots about the topic that we were supposed to elaborate and then present it: on the bus or in the field. Practice above all – such a slogan guided our trainers.

Some were prepared perfectly:

Ania just started her story about church in Barnimie in Drawa National Park.

Hard-working students made some precious notes.

Agnieszka is making notes…

It happened, that we needed a while to refresh the knowledge…

“Couldn’t they write it in two-three sentences?”

But the truth will always come out.

“the forest dulcimer” (polish word ‘cymbał’ has two meanings: musical instrument and… a knucklehead 😉

Roman told us a great legend about a lapidary stone in Kalisz Pomorski:

Together with Wojtek we’ve checked the possibilities of this stone.

‘yep, it is shaaaaaarrrppp…  ouuuchh!!!!!!!!’

Sometimes we had to go a little off the route…

“Where does this guide lead us???!!!”

Some were interested in treasure hunting on the Swedish Earthworks in Drawa National Park. It was quite inconclusive, which is not a surprise, as this guy had a map of Podkarpackie Voivodeship. What a dude…

“It was somewhere here… or not?”

He probably didn’t find the treasure, because we’ve met him a few weeks later in Museum of State Agricultural Farm in Bolegorzyn near Czaplinek.

“what do ya want? go away!”

Sometimes we had to stop joking, especially when women had their heavy “arguments” like the one below, in The Museum of Cold War in Podborsko.

“Don’t make me laugh ffs, because we’ll never pull this bloody thing out!!”

The road is ours! Actually, most of the roads were ours.

We wouldn’t have such amazing pictures if Mirek wasn’t there!

Mirek caught by Paulina in a short moment of not making photos.

We also had an occasion to meet the local people. Most of them were very helpful, kind and interesting. Chapeau Bas!

We also visited places, which lead to a deeper reflection in a places of often tragic history.

The monuments nearby the ruins of a Stalag Luft IV Gross Tychow – now Tychowo.

We also had many occasions to face sacrum. The most memorable and exceptional place in Pomerania is an orthodox church in Biały Bór. It leaves no one emotionless.

Due to the intensity of the course and the weekly meetings, each of us felt at some point exhaustion and straining. In my opinion, it’s something natural, and sooner or later such feelings appear. Besides, we all have our own lives, whether we like it or not, suffer in a certain way due to our absence.

In addition, the amount of information we have taken at once is colossal, and it will be a long time before we can learn this.

Most of the trainee – including me – were for the first time in their lives in countless places. I often wonder how it is possible: we live very close to such interesting and beautiful places, and we discover them so late.

In any case, the absolutely added and unintentional value – are we. Each of us has brought into this universe a part of themselves, without which the picture is poorer and deformed. Experiences, stories, knowledge, skills, humor and approach to life – we have all introduced it into a jointly created, small but extremely rich world.

I want to thank you for these wonderful moments. Extremely interesting and clever conversations, sense of humor, knowledge. For those moments restoring faith in what is good, valuable and beautiful – thank you.

Personally, I would also like to thank the coaches – the guides who co-created this atmosphere: Tomek and Małgosia Duda, Iza Opas-Zajdlewicz, Piotr Letki, Tomek Olechwir and Paweł Redmann. As well as Andrzej Krawczyk – our driver.

© translation by Anita Bernaś.

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