Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Red Lake and Gibson's

Red Lake was/is the color of home brewed sun tea. It was due to the peat bogs nearby. It smelled  good and it tasted good too. Officially, it was/is off limits to swimmers, but local people went for a dip and it was tolerated by the local authorities who also frequented Red Lake. It was also a good place for gathering mushrooms. The eastern borderland was and remains a paradise for me. We biked everywhere we went in the Gmina Wola Uhruska which contains these villages and settlements of Bytyn, Huta, Kosyn, Macosyn Duzy, Majdan Stulenski, Mszanka, Stulno and Stare Stulno, and Uhrusk of which I know intimately. 
Though usually going by bike, I had one one occasion to go by horseback... which is my preferred mode of transportation. I rode the borderland with my guide, a young teenage from Majdan Stulenski. She could speak English and was curious about the West. I told her to wait long enough and it would eventually come to Poland... that was in 1999. By 2004, the West arrived. Thankfully, most of the west remained in Warsaw. The eastern border remained and still does remain a paradise to me. Why a paradise? Because of the local people, the local communities, the localness as we called it. People there were free and I felt more free there than anywhere. Local people made their own decisions on how to live together and among border guards too. It was a symbiotic relationship.
On hot summer days, we would get up early enough and have breakfast then get on our bikes and head out to make interviews or to just enjoy the day swimming, biking or hiking and mushrooming. There were stops along the way in small villages like Kosyn where we could get a cold drink, and eat good bread and cheese for lunch. Of course, we made our way over to Red Lake for a swim in the tea colored water full of life and nutrients and refreshment.
Later in the day, we would end up in Wola where we could get a plate of homemade pierogi at Gibson's. Yes, that was the name of the place. Before 2004, it was a little place, in fact an old hut that became the local bar and eatery. After 2004, Gibson got some funds from the EU and it became quite a nice pensionaj (bar, eatery and motel).  The Gibson has been a place of destination when I am in the east, I even took my husband there. He was surprised by the name and location; the local village of Wola Uhruska near the Bug River once a land part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the steppes of a wild frontier.
When I took my husband, it was an easy train ride from Warsaw and then by car. When I went there back in the late 90s, it was a long long train ride and I felt like I was venturing into some kind of outback... for me in my memory, it remains just that... an outback where local people live simple and free.

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