Monday, May 19, 2008

Shanghaied in the Ukraine.

This whole concept of being God oneself was immediately crashed after crossing so successfully the European/Polish and Ukrainian border.
Among the group of travellers in the bus was a priest who once when the bus was slowly driving on the very bad and narrow Ukrainian road, took the microphone and was leading the flock into prayer and singing of religious hymns.
Thanking God for a safe and fast border crossing and their God was up in heaven.

The main road connecting the big cities of Krakow in Poland and Lvov in the Ukraine is called the E4.
That is a major and most important European road.
It is not a huge distance between those big cities: only 300 kilometres (186 miles).
A distance that could be covered, if the road was a modern highway, in less than 4 hours.
However, the road is a single lane going through villages and towns.

Especially in the Ukraine, the surface of this primitive and narrow road is so bad, so full of potholes, that an average speed of not more than 40 kilometres (24 miles) per hour can be reached.

Hence, it takes about 6 hours to cover the distance to which the waiting time at the border must be added.

That makes Lwow a relative isolated town: once the centre of Europe, nowadays it cannot be easily reached.

Not long after the border was crossed the bus stopped at a hotel that was out in nowhere.
To uttermost surprise it was learned that this was the hotel where the group of travellers would stay for two nights.
A long way from the city of Lvov.
No taxis available.
A hotel as an island in the Ukrainian forests very suitable to fight a partisan war.
It felt like being shanghaied.

The Polish teachers quickly deposed their luggage in their rooms to assemble in the bar of the hotel where the drinking and the singing went on to 3.30 in the morning.
Making sleep for the others a disturbed and traumatic experience.

A plan was devised to escape from this situation.
To jump ship.
It was realized that as long as one was a member of this group of travellers, no freedom was available to do something individually.
To go and find the village where the father was born and grew up in and where the grandfather was resting in the cemetery.

Very early in the morning the Ukrainian countryside was visited.
Not far from the isolated hotel was a simple village where one could see how Ukrainian people live in the countryside.
It was a visit to another era.
Like suddenly catapulted into 1950.

Progress has not reached this part of Europe yet.
But it was peaceful and looking harmonious.
Even a certain prosperity, at least no poverty.
However, there were three personal aggressions experienced in this village.
Physical attacks.
But not by people.
This time of year geese walk proudly in the Ukrainian villages with their offspring and are very concerned about their well-being.
An early walker with a camera is considered a threat and it is assured it is the best to run from an agitated goose defending her loved ones.

The Polish teachers had a late breakfast at 9 am.
A Ukrainian breakfast.

At 10 am finally the bus headed for Lwow and this was a journey taking more than an hour due to the bad road.

Meanwhile the tension, nervousness and frustration was slowly rising feeling trapped and locked in.
It was told before this journey that the group would stay in a hotel in Lwow.
So, it was gathered that from there a taxi could be taken to the village of Chodorow to meet grandfather.
What had looked simple had become complicated.
Far from Lwow and already late in the morning.

But the God experience recently at the border was still burning and so there was hope to have a successful escape soon.


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