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Monday, October 26, 2009

Longlining- Wroclaw, Sept 22nd 2009

So, I unfortunately do not have much to say about this day right now. I seem to only remember the best part-- I WALKED 139 METER LONGLINE!!!!!New personal best :)

I walked it on my fourth try. We will have to set it up again sometime because I only walked it one way, still need to walk both ways. I remember also tensioning the line, and all the rotten apples on the ground which were very unpleasant feeling when you squished them between your toes. Then your feet smelled like rotten apples, really nice. Damian and Janek walked the 139 No problem, first try, full man. Not surprising, but they set a new polish record. Korny took some tries on the line as well, and walked quite a bit of it. So, it was a successful day. Apparently I set a new women's longline record but as we all know slackline records are usually word of mouth, so if a girl somewhere out there has walked longer, I apologize! We also set up a 105 meter longline, which I full manned OS. The photos here are from that line, which was rigged with white magic, white color. The 139 was rigged with red colored white magic. I will publish photos of that line and me on it in the near future.

The next day Kornie and I set up a very very loose 50 meter line in a park right next to Kornie's cousins' apartment. We were basically just craving some slacking so decided we may as well go for a short session. It was a good day, as I found 5 zlotys in the dirt under the tree our anchor was on, and some change as well. Kornie sent it onsight full man, I full titted it (fell on the first try, LAME!) Some women talked to Kornie about slacklining with blind children, which I thought sounded like a really great idea. It would be very beneficial for their balance and spacial awareness. Slackline Therapy! The next big thing! That night Kornie cooked some crazy concoction for me that tasted kind of like a kebab, and it involved lettuce, tomato, pickles, chicken and about two kilos of mayonnaise and ketchup. It was good, though I had a strange thought that I was in the making of a clogged artery later in life :)

Things I learned in Poland

1. Do not say zejebisde to grandmothers.
2. Hitchhiking is really easy in Poland, it is an old tradition there.
3. Polish trains often have no heating (or too much in some cases) and the only difference between first class and second is the color of the car, and the curtains are a little nicer.
4. Polish train bathrooms are slightly worse then a prison bathroom.

5. Poland is cheap.
6. Pronouncing polish words correctly for an American is practically impossible. Must drink vodka first.
7. The Polish really do drink vodka like it is water. Do not think you can drink the same amount and be OK.
8. Not very many people there speak English.
9. You can ride public transportation for free, however be prepared to run from ticket controllers.
10. Polish food is delicious, especially home cooked, be prepared to double your weight though.
11. Graffiti everywhere, most illegible.
12. A shop is called a sklep.
13. There are dogs and cats running free everywhere, and somehow the dogs never get hit by cars.
14. The parks have quite a bit of dog shit in the grass, not nice when you are barefoot and fall off the slackline.
15. Polish sausage is called Kielbasa. Everyone in Poland eats it.
16. Lots of words that I do not know how to spell.
17. Fruit trees grow in abundance, free fruit!
18. Polish drivers are crazy. If there is a pedestrian in the street they speed up.
19. There is a stereotype about the Polish stealing everything...haven't experienced it, so maybe it is not true...
20. There is a taxi service called FART TAXI. Fart apparently means 'luck' in polish, needless to say, taking a Fart Taxi is hilarious.
21. During warm months the freaking Soviet Mosquito's come out, and can bite through two layers of clothing. Repellent does nothing.
22. There are many beautiful polish women.
23. Many polish guys sport the lovely Euro-mullet or faux-hawk.
24. Polish bitches love their shiny clothing and accessories.
25. Polish grandmothers will feed you until you are about to pop, then insist you have cake.
26. Southern poland is beautiful!
27. You will get a ticket for putting your feet on the seats in a train.

More to come! As my polish adventures continue...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lądek Zdrój - Przegląd Filmów Górskich

Janek and I hitchhiked from Wrocław to Lądek Zdrój on September 20th, to do a slackline presentation for the Mountain and climbing film festival. Damian took a train, and since Kornie lost the coin toss he hitchhiked alone. Hitchhiking is so common in Poland, we sometimes would be dropped off and have to wait behind another hitchhiker until he was gone. We made it to the town very quickly, and waited around until Borys Bednarek (the guy who arranged our participation in the event) arrived. Our first thoughts were of course, where to set up a slackline. There was a stage, with a large metal frame around it for the purpose of attaching a tent or cover of some kind. So, we recieved permission to set up a line across the stage from a tree to this metal frame. We used White Magic, and the line was about 25 meters long. On one side the stage ended, and it dropped off quite a ways down, so walking the line over this side was almost the feeling of a midline, since if you fell you could hit some stone steps or the benches and possible injure your ankle or legs.
Anyhow, we played around on this line for a while, then Szymon arrived and we rigged down and went to the guesthouse we were staying in. It was a large room with four couches, one on each wall, a table in the middle and a small bathroom with a defunct shower curtain that allowed water to get everywhere. After pizza for dinner, we just had to get a bottle of vodka (and another half bottle) chased by grapefruit juice. Damn Polish guys! It is not so easy to keep up with them and their vodka drinking abilities. We watched a great film called "The Boat That Rocked." By the time we all passed out on our designated couches (and Szymon on the floor) it was fairly late and we were all fairly drunk.

The next day the guys set up a tree highline in a lovely park area next to the Festival.

It was between two great old trees, quite high. There was no backup. I still had my cast on and was too nervous about using my wrist so I decided against trying the line. Janek and Damian both walked it, Kornie walked most of it and I sat on the grass below feeling a bit kaputt.

After this we went to do our presentation. We should have practiced at least once to see that everything went smoothly, however being the slackers we are we just assumed it would go easy peasy, however it turned out that the computer hooked up to the projector was a Mac, and I was the only one with experience in Macs, however the computer was all in Polish and so my knowledge was useless. After much changing of cables and eventually entire laptop we were able to begin. Janek and Damian started, talking about the history of slacklining etcetera. Between the four of us we took turns taking the front and presenting our information. They were speaking in Polish, so when I talked about my own personal slackline experiences Damian translated. We showed pictures for each topic, such as the basics of slacklining, the different types of the sport (trickline, longline, highline, waterline, and so.) gear, rigging, and a few other things. We had two hours, which was a long time to keep a group engaged, but overall I think our presentation went great.

Afterwards we set up a long rodeo line, underneath the tree highline. It was nighttime so the only light available was the orange-yellow glow from the park lamps. This made the line even more difficult. I was starting from chongo, since to create a rodeo line so long we had to set the rope high up. At one point I fell off and landed quite hard on my ass, which hurt the next few days. Rodeos are good conditioning! The are on one hand similar to longlines, in that you use much of the same muscles trying to steady the line, however they feel much different and to me more difficult than a longline.

That night there was a concert on the stage our slackline had been on, by a Czech band called Minus 123 Minutes. They were great! I am pretty certain the entire town of Lądek Zdrój was in the arena. We sat in front drinking beer and watching the end of the concert, and after every "last song" the audience would scream "Encore!!" (in polish of course) and the band would return and sing another. Unfortunately the very excited youth of the audience all ran down and lined up to dance in front of the stage, which happened to be right in front of myself, Kornie, Janek, Damian and Szymon. Annoying, but funny to watch. These people were dancing very strangely, like drunk hippies at a reggae concert, yet there was no reggae and they did not look like hippies.

There was a very serious looking group of security guys next to the stage, whose faces showed that they wanted the damn concert to end. This lovely group of dancers then ran onto the stage for the last song, and the serious looking policja followed to escort them down. The singer of the band said "its ok its ok" and so the strange dancing drunk kids stayed. At least then our view was clear.

Afterwards there was more vodka and ŻUBR and grapefruit juice in our room, with four people who I did not know. At some point I was feeling pretty wasted, and we put on the movie Monsters vs. Aliens and I passed out in the beginning. Kornie, who is such a great friend, woke me up with a wet willy in my ear. I remember the first one, however apparently there were several more during the duration of the movie but I dont remember.

The next day we woke up and left the room, kindly leaving a massive pile of beer and vodka bottles, all the boys took shits in the bathroom then voluntarily told me all about it ("Too Far!") Then we went to the tree highline and set up a couple more lines, the rodeo again, and a quite high up slackline (to keep the children off we had to set it up so high.)There were way too many people there, but other then that the weather was lovely. We took some nice raunchy pictures of all our gear laid out and ready.

It was like our own little slack-park. I met Damian's mother, and of course added her to the list of peoples parents I have accidentally cursed at. They said, "Faith! Say what you know in Polish!" so I said, "Słonko Swieci, ja pierdolę!" Which apparently means "the sun is shining, Fuck yes!" So, now as a rule the only thing I will say to anyone in polish is hello.

So, the trip went well, while we ate too much pizza and drank too much vodka and spent all the money we earned as we earned it, really it was a great time. It was also really great to have the entire Everyday Average Normal Crew together, all at the same time, slacklining and acting like retards. And doing a presentation bringing together everyones knowledge and oppinions was lovely.
So, on to the next adventure!
Pictures in this blog were taken by myself, the beautiful ones by Damian Czermac and some by Michał Korniewicz.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Wide Space" new highline in Sokoliki climbing area, Poland

Once back in Poland, Janek, Kornie and I decided to take a trip for a couple of days down to Sokoliki. It is a beautiful area south of Wroclaw well known for its climbing. We went specifically to set up a highline in a spot that Janek had seen on a previous trip there. We hitchhiked there, so by the time we made it it was afternoon. We first went to the campsite, hung out for a bit, then hiked up to the location. One of Janeks czech friends had already created a name for the location: Wide Space. One end of the anchor would be on a giant boulder sitting atop the rock formation, and the other side was a tall slender rock pillar. The anchors were lovely, secure and not difficult to rig. Janek and Kornie tightened the line (we used Kornie's White Magic flat webbing)and then taped the backup. It was already growing darker, and because Kornie had to hitchhike back to Wroclaw that night he was first to go. He tried several times, with good energy, however He walked halfway on best attempt. He was pressed for time so it was unfortunately not enough time to walk all the way. Janek and I both thought it was possible for him. He took off, and I went second for a change ( I have grown accustomed to being last.) On my first try, I stood fom a chongo, took a step and fell. Caught the line! On the second try, the steel ring at the end of my leash was stuck on some tape around the line, so I felt resistance trying to walk. My reaction of course was to panic, and Janek calmly told me I should just sit down, pull the ring over the tape and start again. I followed his instruction, and on this try I walked the line all the way to the other side. I used my usual tactics of saying "Breathe...control...breathe...control..." When I reached the other side I had a wonderful satisfied feeling. Much adrenaline, of course. It was great to walk towards this side with the entire view of down the mountain, the fields and farms, and the horizon and dark hills in front. I sat on the pillar and soaked in my surroundings, but Janek was on the other side waiting for his walk so I had to come back. I find this problem in most highlines I walk, one way is a great feeling and I almost dont want to return in case I will ruin the feeling of sending it. However this time I successfully walked back and said happily "get me the fuck off this line!" But it was my first send of a True highline; not a tree highline like the ones I sent in the past.

Janek took his turn, not surprisingly walking on sight full man (as I have become used to highlining with him.) and when he returned we both agreed it was a beautiful highline. Maybe even the perfect highline. It was about 26 meters, slightly inclined on the return, but with lovely exposure. The only downfall was the wind, however this is an almost unavoidable occurrence when highlining in the hills.

We camped there that night, sleeping on picnic benches in a shelter, meanwhile a huge rainstorm came dumping buckets on everything. There was a school group of kids from Belgium, and when they heard Janek and I speaking english they asked if we were from England. They were amused at my reply that I was in fact from Texas. Nice counselor's gave us watermelon. We ate a lovely dinner of Kielbasa sausage roasted over an open fire, and pasztet of course.

The next morning we woke up ate something and headed up to the highline for another walk and then down rigging. I went first, and Janek ran around to take some photos. I had a much harder time coming back from the pillar. There was strong winds whipping me in the face and adding to my already nervous disposition that day. I stood from the chongo and took a few steps over and over and over. I fell about 7 or 8 times trying to return. Janek had climbed to the top of the small mountain and up a giant metal cross to get a good photo from a distance, and I was unable to walk! Very disappointing. I was actually on the verge of tears. There were two guys climbing down below, and they were speaking encouraging words in response to my profanities that I screamed to the line and the rocks and the wind. Finally, after walking over halfway and falling just five meters or so before the end, I decided my thighs had taken enough beating and I crawled back. Talk about depressed! I could not fathom why on the first day I was able to walk the line with virtually no problem and then this day had so much trouble. Anyhow, I was happy to have been first ascent, and walked the line full man before leaving. Janek came up again and walked several times, performing some impressive tricks and all the while listening to his traditional drum and bass. We both wished Kornie had stayed so that he could enjoy the line with us, but agreed we could always return and set it up again in the near future.

So, it was my first real send of a real highline. Felt good.