Once again I used the morning on Tuesday to worked on my presentation. We used the bar of the hotel as an office space and yesterday as we entered into the bar we got chatting with Omar and Khalid from Oman. They work for the mounted police and were in Poland doing business. They had a Polish interpreter but their English was really good. We had seen each other throughout the week and I think they were curious to meet us. We had a good chat.
After working in the morning, I decided that we both (or at least Ferg) needed to check in to rehab. We made our way out to Constancin, a little town about 20 km from Warsaw, to meet up with Margaret, our Polish travel agent, and a few of her friends. They were the ones in rehab!
Let me qualify that. Ferg was thinking of Lindsay Lohan or other Hollywood stars when Margaret first mentioned that she was in rehab but of course I knew what she meant. It’s a bit like Hampstead Centre in Adelaide where people with disabilities can go to have an intensive, residential period of physical treatment. Margaret has cerebral palsy.
On the way to Constancin, Ferg rang to let Margaret know we were coming. She was going to arrange for her friend to meet us at the busstop. A couple of minutes later, she rang back to say she thought her friend might be on the bus with us. I looked over a woman in a wheelchair waved at me. Her name was Kinga (sorry about the spelling) and she guided us to the rehab centre from the busstop and we chatted all the way. She works with Margaret helping people with disabilities find employment. I asked her what would be the situation for someone with my level of disability; would I be working? Sadly, she said that I would probably be home being looked after by my family. I suggested it would be very strange if I came to Warsaw and set up a business. She agreed so I thought I had better do it!
I asked Kinga what winter is like as I thought people in wheelchairs might be housebound. She said she has to go out to work but it’s not very nice ploughing through snow up to your knees some days. By the way, last winter the temperature got down to minus 30. Yuck! Talk about major spasticity!
Margaret introduced us to another friend called Olla who was actually one of her ex-students (Margaret teaches English). I loved Olla’s spiky, red-dyed hair. Margaret suggested that we needed to check out the “graduation towers” while in Constancin. We had no idea what they were but figured we might as well. I thought they would be tall poles a bit like native American totem poles. Olla escored us to the graduation towers which were very bizarre. She had to rush back for an appointment so we couldn’t ask her to explain what they were and all the signs were in Polish. I’ve pasted below an extract from Ferg’s email to his family:
It's about four metres high, about 25 m long, 15 m wide and made of sticks. Really. Well there is a sturdy timber frame but the walls are a metre thick thatch made of sticks which are dripping with water.
Right. Water drips through the sticks and then runs off a sloped wooden platform at the bottom of the walls and makes musical, tinkly noises as it disappears into wooden gutters, presumably to start the process again.
Oh, and there is no roof so it's not actually a building at all. Inside there is a little flower garden at one end and a kind of fountain at the other. Well I say fountain but it us more like a sprinkler from a fern house, spraying a fine mist around.
People were standing, eyes closed, breathing in the mist. Except for the ones who are walking slowly, reverently around the fountain and breathing the vapor. It is quite the strangest thing we have experienced but we figured we made the effort to get there so we'd better join in. We were a little worried it might be some kind of Satanist ritual but it didn't really seem dangerous so we breathed in the superfine mist which tasted slightly of salt and we closed our eyes and breathed deeply as we walked anti-clockwise around the fountain like everyone else. And then we left, none the wiser, to go catch our bus back to the city.
I think the mist gave me some respiratory problems for the next day or so. Ferg looked the place up on the internet and apparently the vapour comes from deep underground and contains micro-crystals of salts which are supposed to help with respiratory problems. I think they might help cause them. Who knows?
Back in the city we went to the Rock Club. We had told Margaret that we liked rock music so she hunted around for an accessible venue. It turned out to be the Hard Rock Cafe (much better than the Hard Rock Cafe in the Singapore airport). It was a battle of teh bands night. The food was good. The music was loud, the crowd were excitable and the bands were great. A good fun night.
We caught the underground train home. As we came down in the lift we heard it coming and thought it might be the last one for the night. We ran for it at the first door we came to Ferg tipped me back and I floored it to do a mono into the train. We nearly ran over some poor bloke but we got in all right! And home safely again.