Now, what do you consider a long walk? How far can one go before saying O my, I think I’ve had a long walk today. What are the bounds to which you can push yourself before you just feel like you can’t go on one more step because you have walked all the way to those outer bounds and you would rather face death than continue on? When I was running the Rock & Roll country music marathon, I felt that 12 miles I trekked to the end with a leg cramp was more than long enough. Can you imagine turning that long walk into a year. Can you even begin to fathom that, because I couldn’t until I read this story. This true life story that is heart breaking and full of such heart. Heart is the only word I can give for it, because if anyone taking a year long walk would probably need quite a bit of heart to make it all that way.
If you can imagine for a second here, what they must have been through, let me try to put it in terms everyone can understand. If I were to walk the Appalachian trail, which extends from Maine to the Southern tip of Georgia it would probably take me four full months to go all the way and I would have to be an avid walker averaging around 30-40 miles a day.
Now taking a whole year I could walk the Appalachian trail down, back, and down again! Not to mention that when these men started their journey they left from the Southern tip of Siberia in the middle of the winter. In suffering conditions, they went on their way with little to nothing in supplies. That by far is the most astounding. They fell through ice in the middle of the winter and had to suffer through crossing frozen streams in the ice cold. If this tale wasn’t true I could never imagine it.
Now Slavomir Rawic was a polish calvary officer at the beginning of World War 2, and he along with many other Polish men were captured and accused of being spies to Russia. Although the accusations were false these men went through pure torture from their arrest, until they ended up at a Siberian labor camp (Camp 303) near the Southern tip of Russia. It took them over a month to get there by train from Moscow and crammed in cattle cars!
After being at the camp for several months Slavomir decides that he must escape and finds a gang of people to do it with him. After they work out their plan and do their deed they must now secretly walk all the way through Russia, Mongolia, the Gobi desert, and the Himalaya mountains to India where they know they will be saved from Russian rule.
The most stunning part of the book was their trek through the Gobi Desert. Walking and walking for days without food and water. Not being able to eat or drink and only being able to get up and walk through sand. That must be the worst of all the tortures. When they finally decide to eat the snakes they see around this is the only thing that can save them.
Their last journey through the Himilaya mountains from the hot desert of the Gobi to the freezing temperature of the Himilaya’s, they encounter what could quite possibly have been the yeti or the abominable snow monster.
The most saddening part of the book is the end when they finally reach safety. When their minds betray them after all of the suffering and when they are finally okay they cannot help but keep living as they have lived. Its even more saddening that the survivors were unable to keep in touch with each other after they moved on with their lives. In the end had I the heart and depth to go that far to reach safety, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. An entire year is a long time and one in which suffering can pay a tool.
Overall this book was heart piercing, it had me laughing and crying. The entire story was enjoyable and shocking, especially his time spent at the Russian jail with torturer’s. Put in the same situation, if I were asked to leave a manual labor camp that I was sentenced to for twenty-five years, for only the slightest possibility of surviving, I would most definitely take the offer. I would rather die trying than with no fight left in me at all.
A gripping tale…. A most gripping tale.
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.