I've had a long week. I'm working overtime and I'm trying to fill out a bunch of legal paperwork (residency permit, drivers license application, and a new lease). Yes, we decided to move apartments, which is very exciting but it also adds one more thing to the to-do list. With all of the busyness I didn't have much going on mid-week, but yesterday was a nice change.
The Toastmasters went on a kayaking adventure yesterday. Normally when the term "adventure" is applied to a group athletic activity it is hyperbolic, but it was actually pretty apt in this case. In the introduction our kayak guide told us we would need to duck and climb and scoot–not the typical cushy river float. He also was sure to tell everyone that once you were in the kayak, you were in for the full stretch; there aren't any places along the river that you can get out with your kayak.
We started walking down a pretty steep dusty hill to get to the river edge (well, more of a large creek) and everyone paired off into twos to embark down the narrow steam. Almost immediately there were some bumper boats going on and backwards floats. As was pre-warned, there were a few sections that necessitated getting out of the kayak and pushing, but many people were wearing street sneakers and jeans. Even Cameron, the kayaking expert, couldn't navigate us away from every obstacle.
For a three hour float, it was really fun! My favorite was when we had to climb over and hover on top of a fallen tree while our kayak was pushed below it. At the end we had to paddle upstream on the Vistula for a short way and then were welcomed at the end destination, the Nowa Huta Yacht Club, with coffee and candies. Let's just say I ate a lot of candy...but I found a new favorite–Ukrainian Minky Binky caramels! In addition to sweets, there was also some typical grill foods and wine. As can be expected with the Toastmasters, the food was paired with some speech-giving games, and Cameron even volunteered to stand up and give a speech! In my opinion, he did quite well, but being a native English speaker is definitely an advantage.
It was a fun day, and after six hours in the sun (and a week of overworking) I was tired, but yesterday evening was also Krakow's Pride parade, and I felt an obligation to go. There was a lot of people there, and many varieties of striped flags I had never seen before. I was glad to see how well-attended the event was, especially knowing the anti-LGBT position of the current government. It was a little scary when a small (~200 people?) parade marched around the main square shouting homophobic chants not long after I arrived. Luckily that didn't last long, and there were a lot of police officers monitoring the situation.
Not knowing Polish, I wasn't sure what was going on most of the time. There was a small stage and a few speakers/crowd ampers and a bit of a production pulling out a long (~10 meters?) rainbow flag. At one end of the plaza there was a drum circle going, which I didn't realize was covering up the sounds of anti-LGBT protesters. Eventually, maybe an hour after we arrived, the crowds started to mobilize into somewhat of a parade and my friends and I shuffled along. It a very slow moving (only half a block in the first 30 minutes) but it was long—it took up two sides of the square and was at least 10 times as long as the anti-pride parade.
I know it sounds like a lot of people, and it was, but I should be clear, everyone was wearing masks and it felt really nice to see so many people showing up for human rights.