Sticking Out Like Sore Thumbs by Jon Humphries – 20.1

These are some short insights about my trip to Warsaw, Poland with the Firm team. The excitement was still with us because Prague turned out to be more fun than any of the other European contests this year. We arrived in Warsaw around 11:00 p.m., tired and hungry. Of course, the first thing we had to deal with were sketchy cab drivers trying to rip us off. We made our way to the legit cab stand and headed for our hotel. The hotel wasn’t exactly like staying at the Hilton in Prague-I think I got a little spoiled. This hotel was something you’d expect from a country that was under communist rule for years. You never knew what kind of treats you’d find in your room-it was always an adventure. Rodrigo met us in Warsaw because, as of this year, Brazilians need a visa to go to Prague, and unfortunately, his didn’t go through in time. The first day consisted of the oh-so-familiar rain-we used the day to sightsee and check out potential skate spots. Warsaw wasn’t the most uplifting place, so you could imagine a day filled with rainy, depressing, dreary weather. Anthony’s favorite place to eat was just as depressing as the rainy weather-a cafeteria that looked like it belonged in a prison. A plate of food had to be 50 cents or somewhere close to that-not too vegetarian friendly, either. Lance Jr. named this place the “C.C.”-you figure it out. Ray and I ate some veggie pizza across the street and saved our health. Across from our hotel was a skatepark under a giant tent keeping the weather out. One young skateboarder instantly saw Lance and freaked, “You’re the guy from 411.” It’s funny how Lance is known to this generation. In my mind, Lance hardly resembles anything to do with 411. Next was Rodrigo, “You’re Rodrigo Teixeira from Brasilia.” This is probably the first time the kid’s ever seen a professional skateboarder. The look on his face was unforgettable. I figured out real fast that Poland isn’t your typical tourist hot spot. Everywhere we’d go, people stared. Sometimes you start to feel like a alien, especially if you’re not white. There aren’t too many loud English-speaking people in Warsaw, so we stuck out like sore thumbs. One day I saw this girl picking a zit in the reflection of a silver sign on the side of a building. I just wanted to let you know that just because Poland used to be a communist country, doesn’t mean all the girls are ugly. In fact, I think Anthony was going to have a break down by the last day-ha. There were numerous, uncountable, beautiful women everywhere we went. Kuba, who owned the local skate shop in town, was our tour guide. He put up with us Americans, one Brazilian, and a Finn, and he provided us with some good-old Polish hospitality, which is always nice in a foreign country. I didn’t make any Polish jokes. Well, maybe one or two when we got there-I couldn’t resist. An angry cop kicked us out of a spot and wasn’t too happy about the garbage we left behind, so he proceeded to stuff garbage and a juice box down Lance Jr.’s shirt as we watched-pure entertainment. We skated some ledges next to a tomb of an unknown soldier. The guards didn’t care that these skateboarders were screwing up their marble ledges. Kuba took us to a ditch in the middle of an abandoned industrial area-tons of huge buildings not being used for anything except graffiti and vandalism. It was a spooky place to be, especially when I walked around by myself. The buildings had amazing texture and form to them. The ditch wasn’t the best I’ve skated, but the atmosphere was exciting. To our dismay, the rain chased us out again. Jani assured us every chance he got that Finland was the best place on Earth. I don’t believe him. Negative-twenty degrees Celsius-that’s all I got to say, penguin. Poland was a unique place to visit, this was the first time I’d been to an Eastern European country. Much more interesting than the foo-foo countries, where all the tourists like to congregate.