“Kat, for fuck’s sake, why it’s never in a normal way?!” – I’m shouting and paddling like crazy. Cold rain is whipping our half-naked bodies. Ten minutes ago it was so hot under August sun. Now, thunder and lightning above us. Our kayak is gliding on waters of Biebrza River. There is still a few kilometres to the nearest shelter. I’m looking around me – only rushes and marshes as far as the eye can see. “We could be in goddamn Venice now, cruising a gondola! This is how typical couples spend their anniversaries!”. We are chortling like insane and paddling on.
Yes, typical couples spend their anniversaries in some romantic places. If they decide to go for a trip – they choose Paris, Verona or Barcelona. Even old town in Gdansk will do the job… Typical couples sure don’t go to places like Biebrza National Park – the mighty stronghold of mosquitos, gadflies and other annoying insects. Vast marshlands, swamps and forests that seem untouched by human presence – doesn’t sound like a best place for the couples in love, does it? But, hello… here’s Kasia and Piotr.
Typical couples go out in a big city, they look stunning in their dresses and shirts, scented, in full make-up. They stroll downtown alleys unhurriedly, admire monuments. They talk and look in each other’s eyes. They listen to buskers. Kasia and Piotr put their hiking shoes and old jackets on, they spray the insect repellent on and go to the forest with really tempting name – The Red Swamp. Considering the abundance of mosquitos in those wetlands – it’s a suicide mission. And it’s quite difficult to look in each other’s eyes when they are full of mosquitos. You can’t even hear the rustle of the forest – the buzzing of billions of insects makes one great BUZZ, as if the forest was one living being.
Typical couples go to a good restaurant to celebrate their anniversary. They read the menu carefully and spoil themselves with the best dishes. They order a bottle of good wine – of course, it’s an anniversary! Kasia and Piotr have a quick meal (pig’s liver with potatoes and pickled cucumbers) at the inn near the god-forsaken town of Grajewo. No, they couldn’t find anything better. Instead of wine, they bought four-pack of beer at the small store in even more god-forsaken village (the only store in ten kilometres radius). They had nice 20-minute chat with local wino.
Typical couples book hotels for their anniversary trip. All inclusive. They want luxury and will do everything to please their sweethearts. Kasia and Piotr grab a tent. They don’t know yet where they are going to sleep. Maybe camping, maybe forest. Sometimes it’s a place without water or electricity. They also grab a stove and few cans of tuna, beans and sweetcorn. On their anniversary, late evening, every couple would like to have their tête-à-tête, if you know what I mean. Typical couples have their single bed apartment and they can do whatever they want. But Kasia and Piotr are forced to listen to yelling of naughty children (seriously, there’s only one more tent on the campsite at the edge of the forest… and that had to be screaming brats). Oh well, they will celebrate next time…
Despite certain inconveniences, Kasia and Piotr have no doubt that everything is alright, how it should be. They wouldn’t exchange their mosquito bites for a beautiful beach suntan.