20 February 1980

Finally in Poland

We cross into Poland just after midnight and it is early on 20 February when we check into the first nondescript hotel we find on our way. It's pitch dark and very cold.

It's been a pretty intense day and we are exhausted but also elated for the extraordinary adventure we have just live through. I would of course never have guessed that thirty plus years later I would have copied my notes onto a blog...

I notice how cars here are parked ON the sidewalks and not just next to them. Also, all owner remove the windshield wipers for the night. Or for the day for that matter, just anytime they lave the car alone. I knew there was a chronic problem of spare parts for cars in Poland but would never have guessed it was that bad!

We wake up early in the morning and head onwrd to Warsaw. First we need money however, and we have to change at the official rate (1 USD = 29 Sloty) at a bank, one of the few times we would do it this way for the whole trip. But little do we know yet...

The second thing we need is to fill up Giallina. This time we would love to buy gas at the official price (very cheap) but foreigners are not allowed to and must buy special "coupons" (much more expensive) which can then be exchanged for fuel at the gas station. Again, this won't happen very often over the next several months...

We reach Warsaw in the late afternoon. I call Bogdan Radomski, our professor/supervisor at the Central School of Planning and Statistics who is in charge of the exchange program with Goergetown University. We meet up and he leads us to our dorms.

Andrew settling in our room
Andrew and I are in the male dorm, and our room is rather large if not so well appointed. Ann will share a room in the ladies' dorm with three other girls. We drop our bags in our room and spend the evening (until 3 a.m.) with the girls, getting acquainted and soaking our first shots of vodka.

A bit of Americana
The girls are extraordinarily welcoming, the offer us drinks and food, and are obviously ecstatic to have Westerners in their midst.

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