Bowling and Border-guards

Last week, with the accession of Poland and the Czech Republic into the EU, some remarked that it was finally the end of Yalta. A week later, we went bowling.

Really, I’m by no means a bowling enthusiast. I can think of dozens of other things I’d rather do, but our new found mobility drew us to that triangular formation of ten pins. We also hoped to catch some hockey as that is one of those areas where the Czechs are more enlightened than the Poles. Vodka, or cooking, is not.

At the border that leads into Česky Těšín, we did some serious double-czeching (yes, those kinds of jokes still make us giggle) on the information we’d found on the Czech and Canadian web sites. Just because the rest of the world knows about the policy changes, it doesn’t mean that the Pole and the Czech looking at our passports would. Which they didn’t, but after a few calls the Pole said Martha’s mom would have no trouble getting back in and the Czech said we could all enter his country. We asked if the people at the other border-crossing, the one that you take into Polish Cieszyn, were up to speed with these changes. Yeah, yeah, it’ll be no problem. So we sauntered into the land of knedle.

Within minutes, we passed a bar with the US/Sweden game on the TV. I yelled, “Whoa, hockey!” and Patrick, who’s been abroad for so long he’s in serious withdrawal, bolted for the window like a ritalin kid to a Christmas display. This manoeuvre freaked out a pair of wiener-dogs and greatly annoyed their owner. Five minutes into Czech and we were well on our way to causing an international incident.

The bowling alley had the game plastered up on a big screen TV. My first priority was to find out who won the Canada/Slovakia game. The Czechs were amused with our glee, but did not share our happiness. It seems their second favourite team is the one from the country they used to be joined with.

My bowling games weren’t too hot. Of the three or four frames I bowled, I didn’t break 200. I had to be told whenever my turn was up as I was glued to the big-screen display of Sweden nicely trouncing the US. Jill, Martha and Dorota all did very well at the lanes.

When the game ended, I noticed the group playing in the lane next to ours. There was a guy whose consistent strikes were made more impressive by the fact that he was two sips away from alcohol poisoning. He would then pass out once his turn was over.

Most of us were back at the border before midnight. Dorota, with her Polish passport, had no trouble. The Polish border guard was up on his country’s new regulations. In fact, on May 1, his department was sent on official memo that said Canadians didn’t need visas. A little later they were sent another memo saying the first had been a mistake. Still later, they received a third memo saying the first one was, in fact, correct. The Czech, whose desk was attached to the Pole’s, still hadn’t received anything as helpful from his superiors.

The Czech wondered how the heck we got into his country. Martha and my visas had expired months ago. Where were the new ones? Jill only had an old Polish visa in her passport. How did she get in? Why did Canadians need visas anyway? How did we all get in without even a stamp? Who did he have to call? He eventually figured it out, or decided there was nothing he could really do but let us leave. Either way, we warned the two guards that later on that night a very drunk Canadian and American would be coming through. They were just as legitimate as us. Please let them pass too.

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