By the time we arrived at the villa on the outskirts of the capital, Warsaw, there were no sign of the people who had arrived the day before.
The town was a ghost town.
The only lights in town were the glow of a few street lamps and a few of the village children playing.
The village was empty.
The streets were deserted.
The villagers had been away for a few weeks, and they had been left to their own devices, to make their own life.
“There are no tourists,” I told a local, a middle-aged man who said he worked for a Polish company.
He looked tired.
I tried to get him to show me around the town.
“No tourists,” he said.
I asked him what was the deal with the tourists, and he said they came in every day, but they weren’t allowed in.
“We don’t want to offend anyone,” he added.
We walked through the streets, looking for tourists.
At one point, I spotted a woman walking on the street with a camera.
“I think she’s a photographer,” I said to him.
The woman looked like a photographer herself, a white-haired woman in a white shirt and a red tie.
I didn’t recognize her, so I asked her where she was from.
She told me it was Poland, but that she had lived in Mexico for about 10 years and that she worked as a reporter in Mexico.
“You have to stay in Mexico because we don’t have any tourist facilities there,” she told me.
She had a camera and was making video.
We stopped at a small café in the village, which was just a few blocks from the hotel where the tourists stayed.
I walked into a small shop called Cielek.
The shop had a sign that read: Cielegiów Polski.
The name Cielegek means “beautiful women.”
It was in the shop where I met the photographer, who told me that she was visiting the town for a trip.
“The place is very quiet,” she said.
“But there are lots of tourists, so there is nothing to do.
I would love to have a photo of them.
But it’s not easy.
They have to go in every single day.
There are no places to meet people.
There is no social media, so you can’t see everything.”
This was not what I had hoped for.
I was expecting a few photos of tourists on a street corner.
Instead, a dozen or so tourists walked in.
They looked like ordinary people, all of them with beards and the usual tourist hats.
They walked down the narrow streets in a line.
The tourists seemed to be very polite and respectful, and none of them seemed to mind that they were in a village without a single person in it.
They all seemed to understand each other.
I had come to visit the village and it was my first time in a Polish villa.
When I left, I had no idea what I would find in the rest of Poland.
I never thought that the village would have a place in the national story of the 1990s, or that the Poles would have an image of themselves that is still part of the national fabric.
But now that I have spent a few days here, I am not surprised.
I have seen Poland in a whole new light.