20 June 1980

Last day in Warsaw, for now

Andrew and I go to the girls' dorm after breakfast, but they are not there. They were supposed to return yesterday from their tour of Finland and northern Poland. We are slightly worried, not that anything serious is likely to have happened (though you never know) but we had planned to start our trip back to Italy tomorrow...

Then Marek, Borzena's brother, calls to say everything is fine: Ann and Cathy are in Warsaw, they arrived in Gdansk with the night ferry from Helsinki at 9 o'clock, and managed to hop on a plane on to Warsaw. They just did not have a chance to call. We are relieved!

The afternoon is spent looking after our luggage and especially the last paperwork. We need a Polish exit visa, a transit visa to get us through Czechoslovakia and an entry visa into Hungary. By 5:30 in the afternoon our passports are decorated with a new collection of colorful stamps and we can relax. The most difficult was the Polish exit visa: after several months here we need to prove our course is over, our stipend is properly accounted for, our onward visa are in order. A friendly lady at the office somehow likes us a lot and puts our papers on top of the pile, just to be nice. She does not ask for money, just smiles.

We then go and say good bye to Marian and Ewa. I decide to buy a silver and marble clock they wan to sell, will present it to my parents. Because there are no official receipts, I am, strictly speaking, not allowed to export it. Silver is one of those precious metals that, if you can find it on the black market, is very cheap here, so the authorities want to prevent its contraband.

We also have various items that are not backed up by official sale receipts, like our monster 2kg Soviet caviar can, next to the pocket-size half-kilo can of Soviet caviar.


Final dinner at Borzena's home. The final intake of hearty home made Polish food. The kind that is often impossible to find in the shops but that her family, can manage to squeeze out of the black market. Or "free market" as, more appropriately, it is called here. She, always a melancholy type, weeps a bit, her mother more. In fact we all do a little bit, though the guys try to hide it.


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