02 March 1980

Full churches in Warsaw

Get up around 9 and at 10 we go for lunch with Marian and Ewa, together with her brother, father and sister in law. They recommend a restaurant outside Warsaw, on the road to Katowice, called Mak. We buy some "black" gasoline on the way, it is now pretty much routine.

Ewa's father reads our hands, and guesses a number of our personal character traits with surprising accuracy.

Marian is very happy because he has just obtained his passport and asks to change some money. We are given the usual lecture on the "real" Polish economy, this time concentrating on the real estate market. Comes in handy because I am looking for a short let when my parents will come visit in the Spring.

Marian also tells us a lot about the international sales of furs. Like many other things, these are cheap in Poland, if you can find them, and can command a considerable profit if sold in the West.

As we drive around on this easy Sunday we notice a number of packed churches, with crowds of faithfuls overflowing outside the door. Catholicism has a long and deeply rooted tradition in Poland, we know that, but this is surprising. We are told that rallying around the Church is one way (legal and unobjectionable) to demostrate political opposition to the regime. This even though the Church has come to a number of inevitable compromises with the Communist regime. Or perhaps precisely because it has.

Quiet evening at home.

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