As part of catching up to the present moment, I'll pick up where we left off and post a series of entries through the weekend: Participating in couchsurfing has been an indispensable part of this trip. Yes, the cost-free place to stay is a definite bonus - but that is minimally important compared to the time we get to spend with people who live each day in the cities or towns we visit, as well as the irreplaceable conversations share with them. We have talked global politics, local food, parenthood, rent prices, accents and dialects, discrimination, travel styles, photography, beer, cultural animation, literature, languages...the list goes on. Each exchange is absolutely individual, always new and eye opening in some way - be it through the differences, the similarities or just the meandering exploration of ideas and ways of choosing to live ones life.
Particularly memorable is the day of the critical mass ride that we were able to participate in with, and because of, our stellar hosts. The entire day surrounding the mass was absolutely beautiful; sun shining to the point of being just barely too hot. We were invited to brunch with a group of friends and two adorable little ones. Everyone was incredibly, casually welcoming and warm and we spent the afternoon on a lazy park walk, eating gelato and taking pictures. In the hours before the mass, our hosts worked some serious magic and located three bikes we, as a group, could borrow for the ride. The tetris game of bike acquisition ensued, a fourth was rented and we were off just before the meeting time of 5pm at the Warsaw Uprising Museum.
As we gathered for the ride - which coincided with the 67th celebration of the Uprising and was amazingly attended - the skies darkened ominously with black clouds. Thunder sounded in the distance. We all got out our weapons of choice - raincoats. All two thousand plus people took off on time and at the same exact moment the rain was liberated from the sky. It absolutely poured torrential rain almost the entire first half of the ride, spitting at us for the second half. And everyone laughed, pedaled on, listened to the story of the uprising from the speakers at the front, waded their bikes through the pond sized puddles and continued on with the mass, smiles on their faces.