Wednesday, August 19, 2009

All Work and No Beer, Makes Elvis Go Crazy


Elvis Cafe Racer Beside Ukrainian Relic with SidecarAugust 19, 2009 – Ukraine Republic?

Now I thought the roads in Bulgaria were the worst that Ive seen. Let me clarify that. I thought the roads in Bulgaria were the worst that I have seen called 'highways'. I have seen some bad roads. The worst have to be the mountain crossing through Pogradec in Albania. But they didn't call that a highway. I think the term the Albanians used was 'goat path' or some translation that doesn't mean quite the same thing in English.

The 'highway' here in the Ukraine is terrible but I'm used to bad roads. The first chance I get to make a decision regarding direction I get it wrong. Fortunately, I hit a dead end fairly quickly so I've only lost ten kilometers at he most. I go back to the fork in the road and take the other branch. That's where I see this beauty of a motorcycle with a side car.

This is just such a rare find for me. The guy that owns it laughs at me taking pictures of it. Twenty kilometers down the road I understand why. They're everywhere! If I had the time and money I would come back to this country and fill a container full of these to bring home. Talk about a bulletproof motorcycle. One and two cylinder bikes with a kickstart. It doesn't get more reliable than that.

I head down the right road to the town of Izmail and I become lost again. They don't make this easy. I'm pretty sure that Odessa is the only city of consequence in this region. You would think that they would make the route easy and well marked. I drive around town a bit trying to pick up the scent.

I meander aimlessly through town when I come upon a group of young me having beers at a little cafe. “I could really use a cold beer”, I think to myself and turn in.

I'm the center of attention while I park the motorcycle. I get my gear off and I go up to the guys and ask them if they speak any English. I'm in luck they speak a little. I ask them the route to Odessa and they begin to tell me. I can tell by their English that this is going to take awhile. I stop them and excuse myself to go get a beer. When I go into the store and grab a beer the woman looks at me funny and says something and takes my beer away. I assume she is going to open the bottle for me, but I'm mistaken. How awkward. Maybe she doesn't want me to have a bottle. I've had that happen before. Some shopkeepers are sticklers about keeping all their bottles for deposit. I go to the cooler and grab a half liter can of some Ukrainian concoction and put it on the counter. Her mood hasn't changed but I put money on the counter and she reluctantly sells me my beer. Do I even dare ask for a glass? No need I see them.

I come back to the table of guys and I put my gear down and pour my beer into my glass. The beer hasn't even reached my lips when one of the guys stops me.

“You can't drink that”, he says with a worried look on his face.

I respond with a puzzled look. “Why not?”

“None. Not while with motorcycle”, he informs me.

"Not even one?", I lament.

Another guy enters the conversation with, “you can drink beer and motorcycle in Kanada?”

“Yes. But only three or four beers.”, I do the weight calculation on the fly and I can see the shock in their eyes. These guys wouldn't even consider having one or two for the road. They look with amazement. They then explain that with even a sip the police can put you away and it will cost 500 Dollars to get out.

I hand the beer over to them and they are pleased. I'm wondering if I was just conned. No matter, the beer cost about 50 cents. They give me directions to Odessa. Like when I got lost in Albania it turns out I'm only two blocks away. I get through the town of Izmail and back onto the "highway". I make my way getting closer to Odessa with every kilometer tick on my odometer. Nothing can stop me now.

Am I being pulled over by the police?


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