Krzywy Las - Crooked Forest in Gryfino, Poland

"Gryfino  is a base for tourists where you can find a unique on a European scale plant community and rich fauna. One of exceptional biological specimens is the Crooked Wood in Nowe Czarnowo, four kilometers south of Gryfino, near the power station ‘Dolna Odra’ (Lower Oder), in the Forestry Gryfino area. It is a part of a pine forest of trees with arched trunks.

On the surface of about 0.30 ha there are more than 100 trees, curiously twisted for no apparent reason. The age of trees is estimated at about 74 years, as they were probably planted in 1934. The reason for the curve is still unknown.  Many stories relate to their origin, among them one which claims that the strange trunk shape is the result of tanks crossing through the young forest towards the end of World War II. More probable seems to be the hypothesis that it was the work of a forester who had shaped the tree trunks in such a way as to make them suitable for curved furniture and sledge runners production. They may have been shaped like this to produce the so called ‘horned sledges’, popular since the 19th century.

Regardless of the purpose for which they were grown this way, they are now one of the greatest natural attractions of the West Pomeranian.” (source)



Poles in Haiti - Polish legions in the Haitian war of independence (1802-1803)

Located in the Department of Grande Anse and not too far from the Haitian Capital, Port-au-Prince, Cazale (also spelled Cazales/Casale) is a small village in Haiti. It is mainly agricultural. One thing distinctly unique about Cazale is its large Polish influence.

In 1802, the Napoleon army who came to Santo Domingo to fight the slave rebellion, included a Polish legion. There were about 5200 Poles sent to Saint Domingue by Napoleon. The Polish officers were told that there was a revolt in Saint-Domingue; however, upon arrival, the Polish brigade realized that the rebellion that they were informed of by the Napoleon army was actually slaves in the Colony fighting for their freedom.

At that time, there was a similar war going on in Poland. these polish soldiers were fighting back home for the liberation of their own country. In 1772, 1793 and 1795 Russia, Prussia (Germany) and Austria were subsequently invading Poland, resulting in the infamous Partitions of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, when it disappeared from the maps. Many Poles, hopeful of uniting in some way to win back Polish territory, made alliance with France and joined Napoleon’s army, but as distinct Polish units.

Many Polish soldiers decided to leave the French army and join the slave rebellion. They all settled in Casale, La Vallee de Jacmel, Fond des Blancs, La Baleine, Port Salut and St. Jean du Sud. Several Polish soldiers participated in the Haitian revolution of 1804 [read more: the disastrous Haitian campaign]. The Polish soldiers acquired Haitian citizenship after Haiti’s Independence, settled there to never return home. Even today, you can find Haitian Poles, blue eyed, blond, with European features.

Now turning the page into the Duvalier era. Casale became a stronghold for communism and many young intellectuals in the region were in direct conflict with François Duvalier's regime. as a consequence, March 29, 1969 came to be known as the worst day for the people of Casale. With the help of his Tonton Macoute [private army], Duvalier built a barricade around Casale, and murdered many young guys.

Pope John Paul II who visited Haiti in 1983, mentioned the Polish contribution to the Slave rebellion leading to Haiti’s independence. Several Haitian Poles from Cazale, La Vallée-de-Jacmel, Fond-des-Blancs, La Baleine, Port Salut and Saint-Jean-du-Sud were selected by the Duvalier regime to attend the various ceremonies organized for the Pope visit." [text source]

On pictures:

  1. January Suchodolski (1797-1875): “Battle at San Domingo”, 1845. [source]
  2. Visit of the Pope John Paul II in Port-au-Prince, March 1983. Descendants of the Polish soldiers holding an image of the Our Lady of Częstochowa (also called the Black Madonna of Częstochowa), one the holiest paintings of Polish Catholic Church. [source]
  3. Inhabitants of the “Polish village” in Haiti; photographed by Światosław Wojtkowiak. [source]
  4. One of typical houses in Cazale, Haiti - resembling Polish rural architecture in form; photographed by Światosław Wojtkowiak. [source]
  5. Inhabitants of the “Polish village” in Haiti; photographed by Światosław Wojtkowiak. [source]
  6. Joseph Merlo Delice and his cousin, Michel Delice are playing dominoes with a visitor from Poland. One of the few pastimes available in this mountain village; photographed by Światosław Wojtkowiak. [source]
  7. One of houses in Cazale; photographed by Światosław Wojtkowiak. [source]
  8. Mme Exavier Rosandre. Cazale village; photographed by Światosław Wojtkowiak. [source]

To watch // Do obejrzenia:

// Fundacja Polska-Haiti


Kumoterki / gońba - annual horse racing competition in the Podhale region, Poland, one of the main winter attractions of Zakopane town [photographs by Maciej Stasiński].

The traditional kumoterki races were always performed in a local type of wooden sleigh by couples, most often wife and husband, but also other categories (e.g. skiring) are popular nowadays. One rule always apply - the competitors have to wear the traditional clothes of Podhale region.