19 June 1980

Getting ready to leave Poland

In the morning we go to meet the Rector of our university. We have a plan: organize a two-pronged student seminar meeting between Georgetown U. and SGPiS, one event each in Washington, DC and Warsaw. It should do much to improve understanding and it surely will be lots of fun. He agrees but, as expected, has little money to contribute except hospitality expenses in Warsaw. We'll have to take care of that from the US side. We'll try.

This highly intellectual endeavor is followed by a more mundane one: buying Russian caviar in the market of "Praga" a neighborhood of Warsaw that is famous for a farmers'smarket. Or fishermen's market. Or Soviet traders' market. Here you can find Russians who have the right connections to buy caviar (or gold, diamonds, furs...) at subsidized prices in the USSR and then sell it at enormous profit in Poland. Sometimes to Poles, in the best case to Westerners who pay convertible cash.

We buy half a kilo of premium Beluga caviar to eat ourselves and a huge can of 2 kg which we plan to resell once we reach Italy. We'll see.

Romek presents me with a beautiful fur hat. It's not the season to wear it now but it will come in handy in Washington next Winter.

One last currency exchange. I buy some Czechoslovak Koruna from Marian. Keep some and sell some to Pat for Hungarian Forint. We'll be driving through both countries and need a bit of each. Our professionalism in currency black market deals has reached enviable levels of sophistication.

In the evening we start packing crystals, caviar and the rest of our belongings. It will be a challenge to fit everything in Giallina's trunk. Also, there where three of us on the way from Italy, now we have Cathy. But somehow we do it. We stuff even the back seat of the car with tightly wrapped merchandise.

If they stop us at the Czechoslovak border and ask about all the crystal, we'll say we bought it with our student stipend. We are entitled to spend up to half of it on domestic goods and export them duty-free. Hardly believable but it's the law. We are going to be safe.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Click here to leave your comment. All comments are welcome and will be published asap, but offensive language will be removed.