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Sunday, February 2, 2014

BUS TO ODESSA

BUS TO ODESSA

The three of us, the nice guy who woke me up, a random lady and I trudged down to the bus to take me from the couldn't find a plane and fuck you on the refund airport of Kiev to the promised land of Odessa.

Night was coming on and for a long time, it didn't look good for the bus either.

During the dozen or so attempts to start it, the bus generated enough smoke to humble any fog machine.  It was looking like London pea soup and made me think of England.

By luck more than skill, the bus eventually turned over and coughed to life.   With night rapidly approaching we were underway.

The bus filled up with it's regular customers.  We three were the 'extra fare'.  Since I was the strange foreigner, the seat next to me remained open.  Extra comfort score.

We drove across the unplowed frozen roads of Ukraine.  Tentacles of blown snow crossed the road in an eerie fashion.  It was a bit surreal and reminded me of similar road conditions I'd driven through in Southern Illinois when returning from a visit to my buddy Derek's home.  The only difference was "The End" by the Doors wasn't playing and there seemed to be a lot less stranded cars.  Ukrainians know how to drive in the snow.

During one of the stops at a restaurant, I slipped and fell very heavily on my arm.  Because I could still move my arm and wiggle my fingers it wasn't broken.  All of my considerable weight had fallen upon it while it was on a cement corner.  It was a close thing.

It was really slick out there - not only in front of the restroom but the road itself.  If we were to wreck or need help there was no telling how long it would be before arrival.

We continued to drive through the whiteout.

Channeling the spirit of a few of my friends who are nurses, I considered what to do about my rapidly swelling forearm.   I removed part of my jacked to expose the arm and propped it up on my backpack with the swelling against the cold window.  That both elevated the limb and hopefully reduced the swelling.  It was like fingers under my skin both in terms of the pain and size.

Despite my injury I was having a pretty lucky day.  Not only had a complete stranger had the kindness to wake me and put me onto this bus but the bus turned out to have the most English speaking people all together I'd ever come across in all of Ukraine.  They were all sailors.  In Ukraine, this is one of the few decently paying jobs, I've been told.

"Well, at least you have a memento of your journey!" one said.

"I'd rather have fucked a penguin." I retorted.

This got a solid laugh and we were off.

Judging what is humorous in other countries is pretty tricky and I've found a bit crude and basic to usually work the best.

What we utterly failed to pass were wild eyed revolutionaries firing AK-74's into the air with burning cars in the background.  There were no signs of the revolution at all.  Honestly, it was a bit disappointing.

Eventually we got in late to Odessa.

It turns out my host had received the brief Facebook message I'd sent him from the airport informing him of my late but imminent arrival.

Despite the late hour, I demanded to buy - and got - vodka.  After my travel mentor and host had examined my wound and announced "You'll live" we drank a couple bottles.

And the next night a bit more.

So now I am ensconced in what I privately refer to as "Hotel Hibernation".   It seems to be the predominate occupation of everyone here.  Lots of sleep accompanied by occasional forays for food.  I have a private room I find comfortable.  The only downside is the long rambling walks I normally take have been completely curtailed by the bitter cold outside.

The inactivity chafes me.

My legs seem to have reached the 'use it or lose it' stage so I am looking for indoor places to at least get brief daily walks.  Constitutionals.



WHY

I'm sure there are a lot of people who are wondering "Why the fuck would you move from the tropics to the arctic for the winter?"

There are two main reasons and several minor ones.  The minor ones include things like cheap accommodation and such.  More important reasons - first to see Adam, my travel mentor.  It's been awhile and I enjoy his company.  I think he enjoys mine but after I've been here for awhile I don't think he'll stand around weeping I'm gone.  He's a huge ogre of a man who I occasionally refer to as 'ye ruddy great ogre!' but with a heart of gold.  Which he will deny or say it is 12 carat at best.  The second reason is that Europe is within easy striking distance come summer.

Greek food has been calling to me, hence it may be worth my while to eat my own shitty cooking for a bit to enjoy it later.  Eventually, I know I will get sucked back in to the cheap morass of SE Asia but Europe has always been my favorite.




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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan | Portugal: Faro

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