The [Former] Blog Ian

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Report from Lesko, Poland

Marysia reports from Lesko, a small town in rural Poland:

Everyone who meets Ian seems to love him. And he does a number of lovable things. He
says bye bye and blows kisses, laughs with his whole being (as you well know). And he is very good with other kids. He's even learning to share. For instance, this morning I walked with him over to a local bakery that has a cafe on the main road very close to here, and was happy to learn they have a whole playground for children. It's really excellent, with a sandbox, jungle jim, a wooden train, a seesaw. At one point, a little girl went over and picked up some trucks that Ian had taken out of the sandbox and then left behind. As soon as she started playing with them, however he ran over and pulled them out of her hands. I said to him, "Ian give her one truck and you can keep the other." Without hesitating, he gave her one. She hissed at him, but Ian was already off exploring something else, truck in hand.

On the down side, his sleeping is still not as I would wish. He fought his nap today, and finally I just let him get up without it. Beata's mom had invited us for obiad (the big meal in the middle of the day), but then Ian fell asleep in the stroller on the way there. He managed to sleep about a 1/2 hour, but of course was more fussy than usual for the rest of the afternoon. Tonight, he fell asleep within about 40 minutes (the fastest yet since coming here) but was crying at the top of his lungs for at least 10 minutes. By then, he was completely exhausted and finally fell asleep.

I'm still looking for a babysitter, but have a couple of leads. Nothing is sure, and nothing seems ideal, but hopefully it'll workout. Otherwise, it will take some creativity to get my work done. More than anything, I long for the reliability and security of a caregiver I can count on and who takes good care of Ian.

Even with these challenges, though, I've already done some good work and had some interesting interviews. One thing that really seems clear is how much the Bieszczady region relies on work abroad. So many young people have left, especially the villages. And in Lesko, whole neighborhoods have popped up with big houses that were built with capital earned abroad. Some people return and then live on their earnings. Others build houses and then just visit for a few weeks each year. Some start building houses, but then don't return leaving empty shells. Others simply don't return. I've heard some really poigniant stories about the need to work abroad, but the longing to live in Poland. This might turn out to be the most compelling data I collect.

Generally, the Bieszczady economy has shifted heavily toward tourism. Just about every other industry has disappeared, and farming was always marginal in the mountains and even less profitable now. Instead what has popped up is Agrotourism. In other words, people rent out rooms to tourists who want to spend some time in the country. I also read in the paper how land prices have skyrocketed in the more scenic areas higher in the mountains and by the lake. People who live in cities like Warsaw or even smaller ones earn so much more than rural folk that many have bought land and built holiday homes.