Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Endless Steppes


(August 22, 2009 - Ukraine Republic) I woke up this morning in Rivne. It's a small city in the northwest of the Ukraine Republic. I spent the night at the nicest hotel in town. It cost me roughly ten dollars.

I figured I could spend my savings on a lavish supper, but I didn't have any luck with that. Not the lavish part, my meal was extravagant. A cheese platter for four people, bread for a small family, sausage and cold cuts to feed a German oom-pah band, red borscht, Chicken Kiev, and four imported Czech beers (this time Pilsner Urquell). That came to a grand total of fifteen dollars. The girls were laughing when I ordered so much food. They were in shock when I finished it. "How come you not so fat?", was the question the one lady asked. It was too hard to explain a camel and a desert so I just laughed and ordered another beer.

I felt great this morning. I knew better than to load my luggage onto my bike. I knew I would be spending the next half hour or so push starting it so I saved myself the hassle of loading and unloading and then reloading. It was the right decision. Normally I attract a crowd when I push start, but there just wasn't anyone around to attract. I had to push alone. Half an hour later I had spent a thousand calories to get her going. I loaded up and headed out of town. I was hoping to get to and through most of Poland today. Next stop Auschwitz.

As I rode out of the city and into the countryside, I was wishing that I had more time to spend in this country. The Ukraine is so beautiful. The rolling hills, the endless steppes, and villages untouched by modern man give it a unique charm. I'm feeling very nostalgic. I feel like any moment I could come around a corner and see the farm where I grew up in Saskatchewan. Not the Saskatchewan of today but the Saskatchewan of the 1970's. This land hasn't been fooled with promises of progress. It's simple and unapologetic for it's hardness. This is a land where men are bred and mother nature has no sympathy for laziness. I love it. I imagine Ghengis and his hordes thundering over the plains looking for their next conquest. I see Napolean retreating from Moscow over the frozen land. The land is timeless with only an occasional monument to tell future generations who strode here.
Elvis on the Move - Elvis in front of Ukrainian War Monument
Today it's me.


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