Day 1: DFW to Bydgoszcz

I have my passport in hand and I am on my way to Poland.

This day started out like any other day: wake up, get dressed, go to Kroger, load my suitcase, go to the airport. Okay, so maybe it isn’t just a normal today. Nay, today I start a new adventure.

Today I left for Poland. In all correctness, I left for Poland yesterday and have just now reached Bydgoszcz, the second of my two destinations. My journey so far has been marked by a series of alliances with absolute strangers. Each of these people have played a significant role in the success of my travel so far and each encounter is detailed below.

Carlos. Carlos was my first and longest running ally, my row-buddy on the ten hour flight from DFW to Frankfurt. He is a 22 year old Guatemala native and entrepreneurial university student en route to visit his girlfriend. While his main agricultural interest is the cultivation of marijuana, we also had a brief conversation discussion about the use of soil probes and precision agricultural practice.  Prior to take-off we talked about cultural differences and laughed at our slight language barrier. I managed to totally dominate him in a game of “lines and dots” but we came out 1 for 1 in Tic-Tac-Toe since we both employed the same flawless strategy to earn a victory. After dinner this Spanish speaking acquaintance proceeded to cover his upper body entirely with a blanket making his overall appearance like that of the Ghost of Christmas past. Meanwhile I found myself battling with the moral decision to lean my seat back and increase the misery of the man behind me. In the end, my need for sleep overpowered my courtesy. It’s every man (or woman) for himself on these international flights!

Study Abroad Grandpa. Navigating the Frankfurt airport was no easy feat. Construction and poorly placed signage made it nearly impossible to figure out which direction I needed to go to get from one terminal to another. Like a lost puppy, I followed a man whom I had overheard ask for directions to the same terminal I needed to be in and who I would later learn was on his way to Israel for a conference. The directions provided led us through back staircases and long hallways which had no indication that we were going the correct way. This Hawaiian shirt wearing grandpa could not have been more friendly and when we eventually came across the sky tram, we chatted about our destinations at which time he told me about his granddaughter who had just recently returned from a study abroad trip in Poland. We split ways at the base of the elevator at which time I suddenly became part of a determined trio bent on finding our way to the proper place in the terminal.

The Brit and the Middle Easterner. This was a determined and humorous pair to encounter. It was clear that the middle eastern man had only just met this British (or at least British-sounding) woman during our flight from DFW and was now determined to not only find his own way through the airport but also to aid this woman in finding her gate. The man cracked a joke about the poor signage in the airport and I immediately knew this was someone I could speed walk through the airport with on a mission to find our own way. While my gate was not near either of theirs, I knew that they could at least get me within proximity. As it would come to pass, I went the complete wrong direction. This was a correctable mistake but did lead to several additional encounters before I would ultimately find my gate.

The Security Guards. Throughout my life I have had the issue of appearing helpless simply because I look young. When I stopped two security guards to ask for directions, it was no exception. They asked me if I was lost, I pulled out my boarding pass, and they pointed me toward a row of customs check-points which was entirely empty.

The Unamused Customs Officer. This poor man must have been bored out of his mind because I was perhaps the first person in hours to weave my way through the cones to get my passport stamped. He asked me some questions. I gave him some answers plus a joke. He remained unamused by me. Perhaps he just lacks a sense of excitement in general or perhaps he just needs a more engaging job.

The Friendliest German. This guy totally made my day. He was in charge of separating people in the security line. Spurred on by fear of accidentally leaving the airport and entering Germany, I did what I had done with every person up until this point and had him check that I was going the right direction. He laughed at me when I mentioned that I was mostly just hoping for the best through the navigation process. He guided me to the right line and I went through security. When I had come out the other side, he congratulated me on finding my way that far becoming my very own “yay, you aren’t lost” cheerleader.

At this point I had made it to the gate at last and found another member of our group who was already waiting there. We traded off watching our bags and I people watched for the next hour  and a half or so until the rest of the group arrived. On our short flight from Frankfurt to Bydgoszcz I had the opportunity to make one last acquaintance.

The Overzealous Picture Guy. I honestly couldn’t tell you where this guy was from and I really couldn’t understand what he was saying. What I do know about this guy who I had the privilege of sharing a row with is that he has a mustache to be envied and a hole in his heart which can apparently only be filled by taking dozens of pictures out of the airplane window. In all seriousness, this man spent the entire hour and a half taking pictures out the window of the German and Polish countrysides. Wherever he is from, he sure enjoys a good picture souvenir. I wish him the best of luck with filling that deep hole.

With such a busy day of ally making, I can only imagine what future acquaintances I will make over this trip. Now resting in our Bydgosczc dorm room however, it is most certainly the friends I will make who I am most looking forward to meeting.

 

After a long day of traveling, we finally reached Poland.

 

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One Response to Day 1: DFW to Bydgoszcz

  1. This really reminded me of some characters and quite a
    Few ‘angles’ I’ve encounter along the paths I’ve traveled. I enjoyed reading your descriptions of the ‘characters ‘ you’ve encountered so far. Safe travels!