Friday, May 16, 2014

The Deep Dark Forest of Bialowieza

The Deep Dark Forest of the Bialowieza.
We had been riding all day long and wanted to finish before sunset with 60k behind us. We were in the borderland area of Poland and Belarus and the Ukraine. The Bialowieza Forest extends into both border countries. It is an very old forest; in fact, primal in many respects of its flora and fauna. I was quite tried and just wanted to make camp. The guys too and we hadn't much to choose from regarding campsite. We rode along the edge of the Forest til we spotted an inlet, a wood cutters path. We turned in. The farther we rode in, the denser and darker it got. I was a bit spooked by it. The trees were enormous, we could not find a clearing. I started to think that it was not a good idea to camp in there; after all, we just left the small village of Bialowieza where we made interviews and the stories were enough to make your skin crawl, mostly about the atrocities of the War, people on the run and death around the corner. But, there were older stories too that came from a time past when pagans lived in that part of Europe and the practices they had, rituals and such seemed to be right from Brother's Grimm. Suddenly, I said stop and everybody held up. I looked down at the counter on my bike and it read 666. I screamed out "no way am I staying here', funny the guys did not argue. Needless to say, we got out of there quickly and rode to the edge of the forest where we found and  went into a scrubby young tree grove near a farm. We pitched tents and just got in and tried to sleep. In the middle of the night, a loud metallic scream raced overhead. It went on for an hour; the farmer's cow bellowed and the dog barked. I was terrified in the pitch blackness of the tent, of the night. The guys did not seem to care, they did not stir. Believe me though, I said my prayers til morning light. That is a true story.

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