Attending to the tusks at hand

Krakow's Old Town, in 2009 two boars (see below) toook up residence in a disused building here....
Krakow's Old Town, in 2009 two boars (see below) toook up residence in a disused building here. Photo: Getty Images
So, hello from the other side. I'm staying at the Villa Decius, set in parkland almost equidistant to the airport and the Old Town Market Square of Krakow, writes columnist Liz Breslin. 

Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin

From my window I can see trees, benches and a woman walking slowly along the path as three small children run yelling in and out of leafy view. This is the first time in as long as I can remember that I've been able to sit down to write a column with no other distractions than those I create for myself.

What a gift, to be able to live and write here. I've seen and heard so many strands of so many stories already and I only left New Zealand two sleeps ago. Not that I can sleep on planes. Not that I mind when I'm feeling all plush on Emirates, but let's just say the last, flydubai, leg of the journey was a caffeine-deprived dive into some serious musings on the trammels of cattle class. Oh the plays, the pieces waiting to be written about that.

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Last night, jet-lagged and disbelieving in 30-degree heat, I caught bus 102 to the middle of suburbia and ate a buddha bowl opposite an eco-village. The cross-cultural ubiquity of the hipster. There's finger-clicking poetry in that.

When the sun hit the windows this morning, smug from sleeping almost 12 hours straight, and buoyed by caffeine, I decided to go for an on-foot explore. Perfect time for it - nobody awake and no clue where I was, I rumbled up a road until I saw a round sign with a person on a white background ringed in red. I'm not too sure about the Polish road code (though, in a language win, I did manage to buy deli cheese today) but I took that to mean "you shall not pass", and turned and found tracks through the trees in the vague direction of the villa. There were signs - pictures and words - but no maps, so I jaunted on past them. Until. Another sign, this time a triangle, with a red rim around a very tusky-looking boar. Out of all the words I only recognised "uwaga" - danger - so I took a photo and proper ran away. Oh, the prose potential of that.

Later this morning, an official orientation session. Pawel Lyzwinski, of the Villa Decius Institute and the Villa Decius Association, explained the intricacies of the Villa Decius Institute and the Villa Decius Association, the possibilities of a visit to an exhibition about Wislawa Szymborska, the buses to take to town (anything except the 102, turns out), the best places for pizza and pierogi, and asked "any questions?". I had to know, so I showed him the photo. And oh, the short story or dialogue, or column, maybe, to be written about the official advice on how to avoid the boars that Pawel has never seen in the Wolski forest, but did once see near the coast.

Not to mention the possible newspaper headlines about luckless New Zealand writers gored by boars, although chances are admittedly diminutive. Although Google did tell me about that one time in 2009 that two boars took up residence in a disused building in the Old Town, it mostly supports Pawel's assertions. The top hit ended: Missing: boars | Must include: boars. Which, when you think about it, and oh, I've got time to think about all kinds of things, is quite profound.

With a room of my own, a vista like this, a fruit and veg shop and a small supermarket just down the road, and no impending boars, I think I might go nowhere in particular, except into the written word, for hours and hours or even days. I might, anyway, have to sit still a while in order to catch up on all these already stories and to check that this chance is actually real.

Liz Breslin is in Krakow, Poland on a Unesco Cities of Literature writer's residency.



Oh, no, it's the finger clicking Unhip Non Rhymer:

'Krakow, Krakow, Krakow
How many times has it been


First, it were the Turks
Then came the Prussians
And the Russians

It was only nineteen twenty

Then the Germans
and the Russians

Krakow Krakow Krakow
Great city of the Old Country'

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