Cycling through larger city Bialystok, I pass an old red brick factory and hear through the small, elevated windows the weaving machines as if still mid-19th century. The noise is deafening.
Camp the night behind house of farmers. The son, Jarek, is just a day older than I, and I’m treated as part of the family. Dinner by the small kitchen table with Jarek; his mother my the stove. A hot soup of broth, something green, some pieces of meat and boiled eggs. Bread with margarine, various sausages, and giant tomatoes from their own green houses. Yoghurt with 17% fat with the soup. Boiled coffee. Sugar.
Jareks mom is also cleaning vigorously – her third daughter will wed in just three days. I join them in the car – combining a quick tour of nearby Bielsk Podlaska with fixing this and that for the wedding: collecting a dress at a friend’s house, a dress for the priest at yet another house, baking forms for the cake, flavorings for drinks. One of Jareks sisters who is driving is all stressed-up; his mother in the back seat is laid-back, giving a facial expression of it all being ‘just another wedding’.
I get a small introduction to the family’s religion, too. They belong to the minority 19% Orthodox in Poland – most of whom reside in the east of the country, with its proximity to Belarus and Russia. We visit two of the churches.