Day 10.5 - The Riot
Trip Start Jun 18, 2008
19Trip End Jul 05, 2008
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We piled on the bus and started heading toward Brno where we were to spend the afternoon. About an hour outside Prague one of the girls from Idaho realized that her luggage wasn't with her. It turns out she left it in the dining area at breakfast. Mattais, our tour guide managed to get through to the hotel and they agreed to drive it out to the abandoned and/or under construction truck stop we were hanging out at. Marci and I went on a hunt for a working bathroom. The only thing we could find was a super sketch port-a-potty which I instantly regretted opening as soon as I saw the contents.
Eventually the luggage showed up. The girl was embarrassed as all get out, but happy to have her things again. We loaded up the bus again and started heading toward Brno. Soon enough we entered the Czech Republic's 2nd largest city. I desperately needed to find a bathroom as I'd sucked down a bottle of water at the truck stop. Mattais came to my aid and we found a lovely little restaurant that would let us use their bathroom. The waiter spoke German and a little broken English so most of Team Molalla decided to eat there. The food was lovely and quite cheap.
I was quite engrossed in the menu and didn't notice that Marcy, with whom I was sharing a table with, was starting to get visibly nervous about something. Marcy discreetly pointed out a couple of vans sitting a mere fifty or so feet from where we were sitting. The vans were filled with Czech police officers in uniforms and swat gear, all of whom were looking quite anxious. When looking for a place to eat, we had noticed that quite a large numbers of the shops had been closed, which Mattais insisted was very unusual.
Our restaurant was located in the middle of a block. At the end of the block we were sitting at was a four way intersection. All the buildings around us where very tall and it made me feel like we were in a kind of a canyon almost. So, shortly after we noticed the vans full of police officers, we noticed that everyone that was walking down the street at the end of our block was dressed head-to-toe in black. Some wearing masks. Others wearing bandannas or were obvious skin heads, (the large man with a swastika tattooed on the back of his head was easy to spot). While the people in black were walking one way, regularly dressed, fairly nervous looking people were going the other way. This is when I started getting nervous. Then I saw the line of police officers in riot gear. There were at least 15 of them making their way up the street. Marcy and I looked at each other, jaws on the ground. We both started looking for the quickest entrance to a building, to safety should whatever's going to happen get ugly. Then the chanting started. There were obviously more people than those we had seen walking.
Our waiter who was being very nice, considering the circumstances, but wouldn't directly answer any of our questions: "Does this happen often?", "Do you know what's happening?", "Is it going to get violent?". The waiter disappeared and we noticed that the chanting was getting closer. A huge mob started coming down the next street over. A giant mass of people in black masks waiving homophobic signs in English and Czech. A large sign protested "No way for gay". I started wolfing down my food. The mob disappeared from view, although we could still hear them. It wasn't long before the mob circled another corner and they started making their way toward the street we were sitting on. At this point, the police, using multiple rows of officers in swat gear boxed the group between two buildings. The police were all very intense with their riot gear and bullet proof vests. A small crowd of onlookers gathered to gawk. Some of the Molalla kids ran up and snapped pictures while the adults looked worried. No one was sure what we were going to do, but the next addition to the police force sealed the deal for us: Mounted Swat Officers. Even the horses had riot gear on. I was terribly confused when staring at this huge crowd of angry skin heads in front of us, I hear horses on cobblestone. Imagine my surprise when I turned around to be staring down a number of riot horses. It was then Mattais decided it was time to leave. Many of the kids were so excited they could barely contain themselves. "I hope it's on CNN!" they shouted.
We made it to the bus and made it to Hungary without any further incident.