You want garbled, I will give you garble…
current location: Really close to the Polish border outside of Ostrava
mileage: 74683 on the Fiesta Odometer
price of gas: 29.90 CR / litre
temperature: 84.5 F
comments: We have completed our first jaunt into the countryside of the Eastern Bloc. A good portion of the drive from Prague to the border was on two lane roads through small villages. Though slow going, it was nice to see some of the "off the beaten path" sort of places and gave a good preview of the next couple of weeks. I saw a couple cutting and gathering hay by hand and within a mile some kids playing in one of those cheesy inflate-a-pools that you can buy at Walsmart. Isn't Globalization great?
current location: Gas Station parking lot Rednecknow, Poland
mileage: 74,864 on the Fiesta Odometer
price of gas: 4.39 polskis / litre
temperature: 79 F
comments: We drove from 1 pm to 2 am last night, nearly making it across Poland. Alas the need to sleep overcame our ability to proceed. We found a seedy gas station outside of Rednecknow and bedded the horses down for the night.
Poland is doing some roadwork, thanks Euro Union. You can imagine. At one point around 12 am, I was driving the Festival as we entered said country wide construction zone. They had the asphalt torn up such that a 4 inch jagged lip was on my left. Since we have stubborn British right hand drive cars, I can't see squat on the left side of the road (also makes overtaking a challenge, especially when navigator / wife is snoring away). Unbeknownst to me, the Polish road crew cannot cut a straight line to save their lives. The cut payment slowly started to shrink the available driving width until the tire violently bounced off of the it. And again. Not a stir from the sleeping Jen. Luckily the tire withstood, but now proudly displays its first of many scars from the Mongol Rally.
Chaos should be defined as a bus load of Italian tourists crammed into a small gas station run by a couple of Polish guys. The pinnacle moment being an interchange in severely broken English between the Polish attendant and classically old agitated Italian guy over a phone card. The exchange resulted in a forceful taking of the card and some wadded money being thrown back.
It's wall to wall eastern Europeans sitting on their Ladas with an ungodly amount of insulation or kitchen appliances strapped to the roof drinking beer at 10 am.
current location: Rivno, Ukraine
mileage: 75166 on the Fiesta Odometer
price of gas:
temperature: 88.7 F
comments: So we spent the day at the border, which was lovely. When you roll up on the border, your first thoughts are wow this is going to suck and damn is this place disgusting. It's wall to wall eastern Europeans sitting on their Ladas with an ungodly amount of insulation or kitchen appliances strapped to the roof drinking beer at 10 am. There were fires smoldering on the road sides and trash strewn everywhere. We moved through the line much faster than expected only to be denied at the final step of the process by a very anal and particular guy. I tried every wiesel move I know, which is significant I may add. In the end we were denied and turned around. Unfortunately, we had been allowed into the country, it was our cars that failed to make it. This meant sitting for 2 1/2 hours in the exit line and then another 2 hours in the entry lane for Poland. Of course the people watching was epic and it gave me a chance to work on my tan. The best was watching the people that had crossed the border on foot trying to hide packs of cigarettes before returning to their respective countries. My personal favorites were guy duct taping cigarettes to his girlfriend's stomach while she stuffed her bra and really old lady stuffing packs down her underwear. Classic.
When we finally made it across the border on our third attempt (of course attempt two was just us bombing past the border patrol in some farmer's field and being asked politely to leave), it was readily apparent that things had changed. It was like stepping back a bit in time. We departed the gas station at 12 am in a consistently dreadful fog in a convoy of 4 vehicles, including The Lost and The Ludicrious' Mini Scamp. It was the most nerve wracking drive I have ever been part of. The roads were vicious, slamming the cars violently and keeping speeds to a minimum. The towns were deserted and dark except for the occasional person slipping into the darkness as we approached. I felt like I was in some demented version of a Humvee convoy in a war zone.
Also of note, yesterday while driving to Kiev three armed army looking guys dashed across the road in front of Dominic toting some pretty serious firepower. They jumped in the ditch and leaned over. I was asleep at the time, but Jen said she was just waiting to get shot at.