After a rather grueling border crossing I have landed in Krakow, Poland. My nose is constantly running thanks to allergies and with three months worth of gear to lug around I feel a bit like a snail — slowly wandering around with my home on my back leaving a trail of mucus behind me. But things are comfortable. I can drink tap water again and people speak English here.
What is uncomfortable is the tough decision I had to make yesterday.
With only three days here, I decided to go on the tour of near-by Auschwitz site. I’ve long been interested in WWII history as well as Jewish history. I’d heard great things about it; moving, emotional… all of that. A must see for any Euro-history buff.
But then a funny thing happened. I discovered the Krakow shopping mall.
You have to understand the difference between Poland and Ukraine has grown massively in the past 15 years. Immediately after you cross the border the roads are smooth, everything is clean, vehicles have AC, and the level of consumerism sky-rockets. In fact, Poles have embraced American-style conspicuous consumption in a way that Germans, the French et al. just haven’t.
This mall had it all. H&M, Mexx, KFC, tacos, escalators, braying toddlers on leashes. I almost cried. People must have thought I was on meth because of the smile in my face. I was truly happy. My inner-North American was unleashed and he was loving it.
And this is where the difficult choice came in. To spend the day educating and improving my understanding of the human condition in the haunting remains of one of this centuries most iconic testaments to the depths of human malice… or… spend the day devising a strategy to eat KFC with both my hands and my feet just so I had more digits for lickin’. What to do?