On June 6, exactly at 1:59 pm, an old man on a somewhat older Dutch bicycle was cycling in a really strange place in Poland. We was riding south through the hamlet of Klukowicze a few hundred meters from the Belarusian border. What was this man doing at these unusual coordinates?
Members of the Polish border police team (Straż Graniczna) asked themselves exactly the same question as they saw him cycling on the road crossing near Wyczolki, a little village on the Belarusian border. The man heard the police car coming, moved to the right of the narrow road and gave a hint that there was ample space for overtaking, but that is not what they had in mind. The car reduced speed and the right side window opened.
The policeman behind the wheel did not say anything, but the woman suggested that the man should get off his bike: “kontrola”, check.
She asked for ‘dokumenty’. The man dug up a beautiful Dutch passport from deep in his bicycle bags. The police woman gave it to the policeman, who carefully studied it, made some notes and started calling his head office. “You’d better stand in the shade”, the woman said. Apparently this could take a while.
The attractive uniform lady wanted to know exactly what the weird man was doing here. “Are you alone? Why? What are you doing here?”. The man answered most questions in Polish, mixed with here and there a sentence in English. When he noticed that the woman did not really understand his English, he switched back to Polish.”Lubię oglądać ptaki” (I like watching birds), “Na tej drodze jest bardzo piękna przyroda” (There is beautiful nature on this road) en “Jadę na rowerze szlakiem rowerowym turystycznym” (I am cycling the tourist cycle path). This did not seem to reassure the border police.”Dlaczego pan mówi po polsku? Czy pan pracuje w Polsce?” (Why do you speak Polish. Are you working in Poland?).
Apparently, being able to speak Polish is not always an advantage here, he thought. He did not utter more than “Język polski to tylko moje hobby” (Polish language is only a hobby of mine) . The man started to get a bit nervous and showed a print of his facebook-discussion he had when reserving the next agroturystyka. The woman indicated that this was certainly useful information for her. In the meantime, the border policeman behind the wheel was busy making phone calls. No incriminating information had come from Warszawa. No doubt this cyclist was a weird man, but nothing indicated that he was dangerous. They gave his passport back. The policeman said something like “Dziękuję bardzo, pan może pojechać dalej” (Thank you, you can continue your journey). At 2:16 pm the man continued his cycle trip to the South.
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- De periferie van Europa