This morning should have been an omen. But I was too eager to leave, to be back on the road. And so I stood at a forgotten truck-stop staring out from Poland on to The Czech Republic wondering why, and how.
It all started when, upon waking up, I opened my eyes and things came into focus. I realized I was still here in this same squat that I had been for the past ten days. I was still sleeping on this dank and dirty floor only separated by an even danker and dirtier foam mattress.
I looked for the time: Shit, eleven in the morning. I was already late. Rushing out of the room on the top floor and down to the kitchen I say my awkward English goodbyes. "Maybe we will see you again," they said while I rushed out the front door.
Three hours later, after a botched attempt at figuring out Krakow's tram and bus system, I arrive at Motel Krakow, from where my journey began. Sign and thumb, one, two, three, and I am on off! I am so delighted with my doctor driver that I completely forget about all of my troubles.
One ride became two, two on to three, three grows to four, young, old, student, business man, literally everyone stopped for me, until suddenly the border appeared.
I now stood in front of the truck-stop that would be the next eight hours of my life.
No cars stopping, no trucks rolling, I ponder my situation. How did I find myself here with only fifty cents, and a bag of clothes? I try and try, walk away and walk back, no one wants to take me anywhere right now... this must be my destiny.
Hearing my stomach howl, I take my first break of the day. I eat the last of my bread, and sip on the last of my water.
When I looked up and saw an old car pulling up, a young woman stepped out of it. This must be it, this is my ride I thought.
I find out that she is in fact heading straight through Zilina but that she does not want to pick me up. She seems afraid as she walks into the convenience store. On her way out I ask her again and explain better my situation. She answers me with 'two small children at home' and that she does not feel safe taking me, a dirty looking nineteen year old, who has not showered in a week.
I ponder this as I watch the two red lights on that rickety red Volvo pull off and down towards a never ending dimly lit snake of a road, stretching out into the black hills of the Czech Republic. I have never felt this lost and demoralized. Why could I not be a female myself so she wouldn't have feared? Thinking about all these things, and how sad this earth can be, I sat down and cried, defeated.
Several hours later I awoke in the middle of the grassy field that I had selected as my home earlier in the morning, and realized I could no longer feel my feet. Or maybe I actually did, which would explain why they hurt so much from the cold.
It was still dark out, but I decided that the only thing there was to do was keep on going.
I pulled up my unwieldy backpack and I walked on toward the highway. One by one the cars and trucks floated by. Some of them honking at this lone figure walking down a dark highway, but none stopping.
I kept up the same solid pace. I felt like a soldier, training for war. Gear on my back, I took steps. One two one two, to my own rhythm, the rhythm of the road. Ahead a four-lane highway became two lanes, and things got quieter.
On I went, until there was no longer a highway, only a winding road passing through a sleepy village. Nothing but a few fenced-in homes, each one with its royal guard dog, and a church with its cemetery.
I came upon the one corner shop and saw that the baker had left the bread sitting out front. Seeing that no one had yet come to open the shop, my stomach commanded to take a few bread rolls. Guiltily eating them, I wondered where all the people were and what time it was. I kept hoping to encounter some English or Italian speaking person but all I saw was a blisteringly orange sunrise over the Czech countryside.
The beauty of it moved me, and for the first time in who knows how many kilometres I felt compelled to sit down.
The rolling fields tended by early morning tractors, moving off in the distance in front of those black hills, now green, I realize that this is beauty. And now I am happy. The school children finally come out, the mothers and fathers are off to work, the town is alive, the sun is bright, and my journey must continue.