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Twin Pigs, Twin Castles

June 25, 2013


Weekend before last, I went with my fellow English teachers to Twin Pigs, the Wild West theme park here in Żory. I have to say, on the whole, they get it about right. It’s not much different from going to a similar tourist trap in America.

There was a gunfight on Main Street… just like when I was a kid! My dad always killed the bad guy.

The announcer had great fun saying the word Mexicano! When he finally made his appearance, he was being dragged behind a horse. They strung him up for hanging, but then his friends rescued him… I think. it was all kind of far away. One very funny thing was when the gunfighters were getting ready to have a showdown; the undertaker measured one behind his back.

Hanging with Young Danger from Liverpool. He done gone on, back to the land of the Engles.

Erin, Danger & Helen… American cowboys from England teaching English to Polish people.

There was some kind of rodeo. I sat in the shade until it was over. I HATE rodeo.

The girls are out in their summer dresses.

There’s an electronic shooting gallery, where you sit on rocking horses and fire at a big screen. Danger got the highest score in the house. CORRECTION: That would be Erin who got the high score. Never draw down on The Matriarch.

Let’s see, Confederate flag… check. US flag… check. Star of David… check.

There was something a bit clown- creepy about this guy. They should have put boots on the bottom of his stilts maybe… I don’t know. Come to think of it, there were no rodeo clowns. Can’t say it was an omission that broke my heart.

The country band was more than capable. I’ve heard worse at rodeos and fairs.

A couple of things I didn’t get pictures of… there was some western style dancing… all wrong. The cowboys had way too much Solid Gold Dancers-type hip action going on. Real country dancing is pretty stiff in the trunk. They looked more like Las Vegas Chippendale cowboys to me. But then, I don’t watch Country Music Television… maybe that’s changing.

The start of my heroic and glorious 3-second career as a rodeo rider.

There was a mechanical bull. None of us lasted more than 5 seconds, just sort of ineffectually flumpfing off onto the soft safety surface. English teachers are not generally an athletic lot.

I think the most fun I had was speaking like an actual Texan (which I am) to the Polish park employees in their western get-ups.

“Howdy, ma’am.”

Blank stare.

“How y’all situated?”

Crickets chirping.

“Me, I’m fixin’ to paint the town!”

Paint drying.

“Well… reckon I’ll mosey on. Right nice jawin’ with ya.”

As an English teacher I understand that there is no way on earth that a non-native speaker could get a handle on these highly idiomatic expressions, ‘less you allow as how they spent all their growin’ up years watching Bonanza on the one-eyed babysitter.  I knew I was amusing myself at their expense, but I don’t think I did any more damage than to make myself look like an idiot, which is hardly an act of prevarication.

So, all in all, I have to say it was… authentically fake? Not the strangest experience I’ve had in Poland by a mile.

Walking back across town, it was in the upper 80s (F) and cloudless; nothing much by Texas standards, but still, fittingly, the first time I’ve sweated and sought shade in Poland.


The next morning, I was scheduled to meet my friend Leon at 8:00. Yeah, right… not going to happen, not after a night spent socializing with mostly English folk. I texted him, pushing it back to 10:00. We had planned to do some serious hiking in the mountains, but instead we went to see some castles and WWII battlements in the Czech Republic.

The chubby guy with the hangover, slumped by the tank? That’s me.

The WWII bunkers didn’t open until noon, so we headed on out to the castles.

Not castles.

Had to stop and get some pictures of the Czech forest. I loves me some forest.

The first castle we went to was Helfštýn. It overlooks the Moravian Gate, a pass between mountains that was militarily important.  It was originally founded by bandits, mere gangs of armed men who took what they could from anyone they could, by force of arms. Later it morphed into some sort of governmental thing… in other words, the basic theme of all history.

You can see where the stairs used to be in the tower. That’s about as far as my archaeology skills will take you.

The next scenic things we went to contemplate were both in the village of Štramberk. Trúba castle tower overlooks the town, but first we went to a cave called Šipka, which is on the hills facing it.

Looking across the town from the cave to the castle tower.

Leon gazing out from the turret.

The village of Štramberk.

They have these weird little ghost dolls all over the place. I Iooked it up on the web and it seems they had a contest, where school children created ghosts to hang about the old castle tower.  This guy’s name is… wait for it… Emo Klaun.  (He’s #6 on this chart.) Czechs are a little bit odd sometimes. In a good way.

Lastly, we visited a friend of Leon’s, a used-car dealer who does insane mountain climbing expeditions. He lives up the mountainside in an old house he renovated himself.

Naturally, all I took a picture of was this chicken. What can I say? I was getting hungry.

On the road home, we saw an old Polish Fiat 124. They’re not so common anymore. Leon knows a lot about cars.

And thus we have reached the end of my weekend. I only have one more left before I leave Żory. This weekend will be filled with parties and helping friends move.  I don’t have a whole lot of packing to do because I’ve already gotten rid of most of my junk and packed most of the rest to ship to Kazakhstan.

Oh yeah… I’m moving to Kazakhstan in September.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2013 3:02 pm

    This is your actual novel. Your first-person narration is always (very) funny, warm, jaded, insightful, intelligent, original, and *highly entertaining* ! LOVE it.

  2. Yingli permalink
    June 25, 2013 4:43 pm

    ~I second that~

  3. June 25, 2013 8:16 pm

    Actually Erin got the highest score in the house. GIRL POWER! 🙂 Andy did okay though.

  4. Julie permalink
    June 25, 2013 11:27 pm

    Thanks for the pics and story. I wonder if they’ll have the same reverence for ketchup in Kazikstan as they do in Poland? What about your summer? Touring around places.

    • June 26, 2013 12:45 pm

      I think of Poland’s love of ketchup as part of their great affection for America, but perhaps that is big-headed of me. In any case, I doubt it prevails in Kazakhstan.

      I’ll post soon about my summer plans. There will be some waiting around at the embassy for my visa and a good bit of wandering, probably mostly in Poland.

  5. June 26, 2013 9:25 am

    That looks like just the sort of place I’d not want to go to, get dragged there and actually have a pretty good time at. Did you tell anybody you were a real life Texan? They might have made you mayor! Imagine that, mayor of Twinpigs! Who wouldn’t want that title?

    Emo Klaun looks a lot like that little fellow from Saw. Not that I’ve ever watched Saw or anything, but I recognise the face and it’s not the sort of face you’d enjoy leering down at you from the wall of an old castle.

    • June 26, 2013 12:02 pm

      I never saw Saw, either. Normally I would reply in the present perfect with I have never seen Saw, either, but for obvious reasons, I chose a more awkward construction.

      Mayor of Twin Pigs! Why didn’t I think of that? I was just thinking maybe I could get a gig there singing Marty Robbins songs. I’ve been reading a book about Genghis Khan. Now there was a real cowboy. I should learn by his example; swing for the bleachers. Go big or go home.

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