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Heavy

Written 20.6.2010

“Don’t you dare,” I growled at the raincloud that had overtaken me over the course of my winding route. Somehow, it obeyed, just teasing with sprinkles. This morning, I managed to take the wrong road out of town. It wasn’t the first time, and probably won’t be the last, but it ended up being a bit of a shortcut, although I was sad to miss the town of Wustrow. So, my road took me along the eastern side of the border, zig-zagging steadily south and connecting the dots between a number of small villages. It was Sunday, which meant that everything was closed and quiet. As I entered Bonese, the church bells began to chime and did not stop the entire time I was within earshot. With no one around to hear them, the bells seemed eerie and unwelcoming. Cats continuously stalked me from the grass on the side of the road when I came by. I passed two striped DDR posts, still standing crookedly in the middle of the villages Darsekau and Henningen. The further I went, the more everything began to look the same. Every village was practically falling apart. Abandoned buildings lined the main roads. Dilapidated farms were a common sight in the countryside. There were hardly any shops or other signs of commerce. Buildings were old and those that displayed years dated to the 1920s. The undeniable evidence of this region’s economic ruin made for a rather depressing ride.

At Diesdorf, I found nearly everything closed, as I expected. So, I turned west and pedaled the 11k to Wittingen in a steady headwind. This was probably the most obvious change, of the times I’ve crossed the former border to the west. Wittingen is a bigger city, but buildings are well kept, shops plentiful, and later in the evening, activity abound, for a Sunday, that is. Visually, everything here seems brighter for the simple reason that the buildings are often painted a light pastel. In the former east, many of the buildings are brown, or an off-white.

I arrived at a hotel around 1:30, and was shown a utilitarian room straight out of the 70s and complete with a grid of lacy curtains. But for some reason, it reminds me of a combination of soccer camp and my grandparents’ house so I’m quite fond it. I biked about 53k today, and took the extra time to rest up and recover. I carbo-loaded with pasta and a (huge!) potato tonight and should be quite ready for a longer ride tomorrow. The Iron Curtain was heavy on my body and mind today and while I can’t say if it will get any easier, I’ll be ready and eager for whatever tomorrow brings.

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