Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Longest Yard.


August 19, 2009 – Morning

Recap: Elvis was being led by the young border guard to the return line to Romania, his bike still impounded, and all of his gear still at the hotel in Moldova. Could this be the end of Elvis and his trusty cafe racer as they travel around the world together?

The story begins... again.

The guard was moving at a terrible pace. It's a good thing I lost all that weight and ran every morning prior to taking this trip. The “Fat Elvis” would have had a heart attack running up these stairs. The “Fit Elvis” only had a minor heart murmur. It didn't help that I could feel the lump in my throat as I knew my adventure was ending here, right now. How will I get my stuff back? I mean I have all my camera equipment in my shoulder bag but my clothes, my laptop, my tools. They're all in my army bag. This is going to suck. I'm going to miss my toiletries. At least I'll smell like a local when I take the bus ride of shame across Eastern Europe. Where's that lawyer when I really need her?

I followed him into the building and he led me down a row of offices with handwritten signs. The office door he opened had a sign and the writing resembled the word:


There were a few weird Russian characters in there, but that is what it translated to in my mind. This is good! No, this is great! They want me to buy insurance. Insurance for my bike that is. I'm moving forward! Don't let my face show how happy I am. Keep your poker face together Elvis. Don't let them know you were ready to fold.

The guy hands over my registration papers to the guy with the cigarette and briefcase. He opens up his briefcase and begins the process of writing me up some Moldovan Insurance. The border guard left me there almost right away so I figured they had their fill of me. It took about half an hour to draw up the documents and when it was over I handed him ten Euros and he handed me my insurance policy. Very official looking indeed. When I get back to Canada I think I'm going to start making up official looking documents for my bike with pictures, stamps and embossing for my next trip. I'll make it a 30 page document written in languages no one can recognize. Oh right, that would be English in these parts.

I grab my policy and I run back down the stairs. I push my bike to the final checkpoint and hammer him with all my paperwork. My passport, my registration, my German insurance, my Montenegro Insurance, my Albania insurance, my Turkey Insurance, my receipt for a Turkish visa, my payment plan for my British Columbian Insurance. I fanned it all out in front of him. He took one glance and lifted the gate. I pushed my bike over to the hotel and I loaded up my gear. My beautiful gear that I thought would be lost to me forever!

I'm gripped, loaded, and ready to go. Let's get this party started.


No love. It's a good thing I didn't try to abscond with my bike. I doubt the Kevler in my jacket was meant for stopping clubs to the face.

I pushed my bike up to a gas station about fifty feet away and I begin the routine to get started. This time it was considerably easier. I just used a two Euro coin to bypass the starter relay and I got ignition right away. Next time I'll wear a glove when I do this because the electric shock and heat kind of hurts. Not as much as the burn on my hand that I got when I was tweaking the idle on my bike after the new exhaust screwed everything up. That hurts way more. Especially because it's really infected now. I'm going to need a doctor when and if I ever make it to Odessa.

Who cares? Right now I need to make a beeline for the Ukraine and get my bike warmed up for the day.

I take the first right and enjoy the fact that I'm riding in Moldova. How many North Americans have been here on two wheels? Not many I bet. I think today I just joined a small fraternity of bikers who would be willing to ride n this part of the world.

That was short lived. The Ukraine border is right in front of me. That couldn't have been more than half a kilometer. You mean I went through hell for five hundred yards of Moldova? This is bullshit! They couldn't have made a border crossing between the Ukraine and Romania? Idiots!

View Larger Map
The map illustrates this better. Galati is the last town you pass in Romania, Giurgiulesti is the town where the hotel is, and Reni is the first town you pass through when entering the Ukraine.

For scale it takes ten minutes to drive from Galati to Moldova. It would probably cost half a million dollars to build a road around Moldova straight to the Ukraine.

Oh well, lets get this over with.

Next Exit: Moldova... sheesh.


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