Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Virtual Prison and Living on Little

I'm finally in Poland.

I thought the trip by hitch-hiking would be easy. gave directions but I happened to miss the last line which had a link to a warning about the border I was traveling to.


Oh boy. After arriving to Lviv in the early morning by bus from Kiev, doing some photowork and doing some reading I went in search of the highway to Lublin, Poland. Highway M09 to be exact. I got some help from a gas-station for some cardboard and some Ukrainian locations written.
However, I was not able to find anybody to pick me up in the blazing sun after around 30 minutes. Well..except for a taxi.
I decided to take the taxi for his price of 100 UKR ($12) to go to the highway on the opposite side of Lviv. But as he started off I remembered that I had just paid 120 UKR for a trip of 540km!!!!  I was being Severely ripped off. After just one or two kilometers I told him no this is too much. He took 50 from me. The exchange rate is 7.97/1US  Still a lot considering I didn't want to get any more Ukranian money and just had 50 left for the day. I got out and began walking, stopped for some breakfast. I had chicken and scalloped potatoes. really Delicious actually.   I then walked and walked until I made it to the center of the town.
When i asked if I was heading in the right direction I was told "no no, take this bus"  So I listened...however where does this bus take me?  Back to where I started in the morning.  GAH!  haha.  There are two Bus stations in Lviv..Number 1 and Number 2. I wanted Number 2.
However while on the bus I met a guy in the military who decided to really help me out. He got a map and called some friends and found that there was a bus that comes to where I was and would take me to the other bus station.

I arrived to the other bus station around 6:30pm or so. I then decided I would try hitch-hiking to the border as it was only 56 or so kilometers. After a bit of walking to find a good place where a big truck could pull over I put out the thumb. I got the same reaction from many drivers though. Throwing up their hands. Sometimes almost as if they were angry. So I decided to put my hand out as if I was seeking a lift from a taxi..palm up and straight out. I got a response almost right away. A man took me all the way to Ravaruski which is the border town.

He dropped me off and I began walking through the town. I was a bit hungry by then as it was now about 8pm. The sun was still up surprisingly. As I came to a part of town with some food places I went in to browse. I didn't see anything that would fit a 50 grivna budget so I went outside. That's when a guy approached me in plain clothes and asked to see my passport. He showed me an ID that said he was some sort of official. I told him sorry, but have I done something wrong? Is there a reason you need to see my passport?  He just kept saying he needed to see my passport. However I wasn't about ready to show my passport to somebody in plain clothes as I've heard about similar scams. I told him that he didn't have a uniform and if I wasn't under arrest and have done nothing wrong then I am free to go. I called my last host in Odessa and asked for some advice. She told me it was actually normal to be asked so I finally relented and showed him. He said..okay and then began walking away. I decided to get out of the area as I could and try to find a car quickly. wasn't long before that guy and his friend were calling for me. I pretended I couldn't hear them and kept walking down the road towards the border. They caught up and said they were going to get a car to take me to the border. I was thinking..hmmm NO. I said, "No thank you but I'm okay."
However they kept insisting again and I told them I would not go anywhere with them as they were NOT in uniform. Well..finally two people showed up that were in Uniform. One was a woman which made me feel a bit more at ease. I let her see my documents and she asked me questions about my travel. Told me I wasn't in trouble and that she'd have another guard drive me to the border.

What she didn't tell me is that once I got to the border I would have to sit at the median infront of the huge line of cars and semi's and wait..and wait..and wait some more because they would ONLY allow me to ride witha  bus or mashrutka..which kept declining because I didn't have a ticket. So I asked to be able to return to Lviv and I'd go to Poland another day.  They said I could not leave.  So..I was a virtual prisoner left to watch car after car get through only because he shook the hand of a guard by lubricating his wallet. I arrived at 8:30 to the border and a bus finally let me in at 11:30pm. Then that bus was stuck in customs for another 5 hours. Long story short, I didn't get to Warsaw until 10:30am this morning.  WHAT a DAY!  Whew!

Oh..and I seem to have lost my debit card yesterday leaving me with just $42 until I get a replacement.

This is where the real adventure begins...I guess the positive thing that comes from this is I can't splurge on beer now. All this money will go to eating and getting public transport to the edge of cities so I can hitch-hike to the next. I'll be traveling like a real poor traveler now.  I think this will last me for the time it takes to get my Debit card back so don't worry yourselves too much. I'll just rough it for a bit and can't dine out so much or go to hostels. It IS why I got a tent after all.

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