"European Russia 2006" story # 7

Ertyl, Russia           July 31, 2006

I woke around mid-day.
     In my tent beneath the fresh, comforting tree near the field, I ate some especially bad chocolate spread on bread.
     Iīd traveled two-hundred or two-hundred-and-fifty kilometers in the last twenty-four hours. Irkutsk was now merely 4800 kilometers away.
     I began to re-think things. Maybe it wasnīt such a good idea to hitchhike so bloody far to a place where I had no job and no place to stay.
     I decided to go to much-closer Moskow. I could sell my travel stories there. Supposedly, I had a place to stay for a night or two. Maybe I could find something else, for after that ...
     But, I went to the road, and no cars stopped. It was a hot day. There probably werenīt going to be many cool ones.
     I went and sat in the bus stop across the road.
     While I sat there, a bus stopped where I had been trying to hitchhike. Two cleanly-dressed boys and their bags got out. They began to hitchhike. One of them didnīt look too happy. He was told by his friend to stand up for the cars. The more-determined boy stood, leaning cool like James Dean, and pointed two fingers and a thumb downward like a mobster god holding a gun. His pose was very different from mine. The two boys quickly got a ride.
     I assessed the future of my stay in Russia. I had nowhere to go. I couldnīt sell my translated travel stories very well if I didnīt have a stable place to live. My back hurt. My feet hurt. I had no sleeping bag, no electric shaver, and no good backpack. And Russia seemed dangerous.
     I sat there for hours. I really, really, really didnīt want to give up this trip. But ... what could I do?
     "Prosto ne mogu."
     (I just canīt.)
     I went to the road. This time, I hitchhiked in the direction of Europe, where I could fly home from (with money Iīd borrow from my parents). I hitchhiked the way the boy had done, and a car quickly stopped. It was Sergei, the second Sergei, from the day before.
     He spoke quickly, and we had a good discussion. Heīd been fishing with his mom and son. He and I got along and agreed often. But, he didnīt understand me when I said that sometimes American guys and girls kiss without having sex. "Pochemu ne imyut seks?" he said. (Why not have sex?) He was married, and had a lover on the side. Russian husbands commonly have lovers.
     When he was young, Sergei and other boys had commonly beaten each other up. If a guy dated his neighbor, for example, or vice versa, heīd often get beat up for it.
     Sergei drove me to Varonez, the city where he worked as a medium-distance truck driver.
     I paid for transport from the city and ended up back in Staryy Oskol. I didnīt really want to camp there, and I figured that my old host family wouldnīt want me to camp so near to them, so I went to their house. The fifteen-year-old, Ruslan, laughed to see me back again. He and I played "Texas HoldīEm" poker in the night, Elena gave me some dinner, and I slept there for the last time.

- peace, Modern O.

Much thanks to Ruslan, Elena, & Daniel for the place to sleep!

"Dobre vieme, ze nás láka,
osud Jacka Kerouaca, osud tých,
co chejí svoje sny zit." - Elan (Slovakian band)

(We are well aware that weīre called by
Jack Kerouacīs fate and the fate of those
who want to live their dreams.)

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