my roommate arrives

Nopp is from Thailand and she had been visiting her family before the trip. She flew from Bangkok to Poland. She said the flight was so full that some people actually stood for the entire flight! I guess flight regulations don't apply to eastern block countries.

Nopp brought a suitcase full of toilet paper. Bless her! She gave a roll to Teré and one to Lori and said that was all that they get. The rest was for us. Yay!

The Polish students had arranged for us to take meals in the school cafeteria. Our first meal was Fat Tuesday. We walked into a large nondescript building and then past the bathrooms. Oh god! What the hell? Was this an outhouse? Oh the smell! We quickly walked upstairs and thankfully the smell did not follow us.

The meal wasn't bad. Typical Polish fair, pork, potatoes and over-steamed vegetables. I think their was even some dessert. We figured this would be OK.

You know what comes next, don't you? Ash Wednesday. I got up early and went walking to go to church. The Church of the Black Madonna happened to be pretty close. I walked in to the dark church to find mass already taking place. In fact, mass just continued from one hour to the next. I hung out in back because I'm shy.

The floor was covered in straw. Huh? Well, it wasn't completely covered but mostly in the aisles. I guess it was cheaper than floor mats. The place was pretty crowded and there were not enough pews. Many people were standing. When it came time to kneel (I always felt that mass should be called Catholic aerobics; stand up sit down, stand up, kneel...) people knelt on those dirty floors! Um, no thanks. Call me sinner. I got my ashes and left.

Do you know that on Ash Wednesday, good Catholics are supposed to fast. Now, Catholic fasting is not the really fasting. It means no snacks, and two small meals that together do not equal the third. OK, not a problem since we still hadn't figured out breakfast yet. We all went to the cafeteria for lunch. Oh no. Cabbage soup and the driest bread known to man. That was it.

We found that the hotels had good food and pretty cheap for us. We went there for dinner. There was one hotel we favored over the rest, The Forum. They had a cheap side and an expensive side. The meals were similar but the cost was double in the expensive side. On the cheap side, there were only waitresses. On the expensive side were waiters. We learned to ask for ice for our cokes. When we first arrived, our salads were cole-slaw. As the weather got warmer, we started getting iceberg lettuce. We never tried the beefsteak tartar.

Realizing that Ash Wednesday would be lacking in food. We went back to the cafeteria on Thursday. Walking past the sess-pool and up the stairs, we realized that was Fat Tuesday was a celebration in good food. What we got that day was one step about Ash Wednesday. This wasn't going to work. After trying to eat another scary, unfulfilling meal, we would have to walk past the raw sewage smell and hope that our meager lunch stayed in our stomachs. We went to talk to the Polish students.