16 April 2006

Krym Journey - Odesa via Hazzard County

We left the house all pumped up to be finally packed and on the way. 2 minutes later we're stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the ring road. But after this hiccup, the road trip to Odesa rocked. The road is really excellent. My guess it that the highway is about 90% complete (i.e. new road, new signage, and even overpasses to minimize intersections). Only small patches were still the old road, but even those did not have potholes or other hazards. The feeling of actually doing a road trip with the kids was very liberating. The rolling hills, newly seeded fields, trees just about to turn green and huge cumulus clouds on the horizon were moving in their intensity. The natural beauty of the Ukrainian nature made the time go by almost effortlessly. In Cherkasy Oblast we were pulled over, with a group of other cars, by DAI for speeding. He showed me 111 km/hour on his hand held device. I was never really clear on what the speed limit is. There aren't any speed limit signs, except sometimes in towns where the 70 km limit is clearly posted. Outside of towns I was operating under the vague assumption that the limit is 120. Oh well. Here we go with a DAI conversation that went from decent to bad with every minute that I did not pony up the cash. With every line he filled in on the Protokol he was getting more and more agitated. He gave me it for signature, which I did, but I noticed a part on the form that allows the "porushnyk" to explain the situation. Why not avail myself of this opportunity? So I wrote, in my block Ukrainian letters, what the road situation was. A group of cars. Cars in front and behind me...and so on. Now he started yelling at me and calling me "nechemnyj". I told him I didn't mean to insult him, but he kept yelling about how I am not conducting myself properly. Considering that we are in the middle of nowhere in what has suddenly become Hazzard County in my head (I could just picture the country judge, the country sheriff) I decide that it's probably not smart for this to continue. The DAI was spitting as he raged, now moving into how Americans have money and a standard of living and Ukrainians don't, and do I know how much a DAI officer makes in a month? Just when I'm about to reach for some cash... he throws my docs into my lap and says "Just go". And go we did...quickly. It was good to see the Odesa Oblast sign.

Arrival in Odesa was just after nightfall. The trip totalled 5 hours and 15 minutes including multiple stops at the modern Lukoil gas stations to visit their excellent toilet facilities. No problemo. The hotel in Odesa "Frapolli" is great. We have a balcony overlooking "Derabasyvska" (a cafe/restaurant street in the heart of Odesa) and a PC in each room (which I'm writing on right now). Today it's onward to Krym. No reservations, no commitments, no obligations. True vacation and a touch of adventure.


Veronica Khokhlova said...

A very funny story about the traffic cop - thanks!

And have a wonderful vacation!

Laika the Space Dog said...

Excellent blog, great standard of writing. I'll be back!