Saturday, 28 December 2013

Day 216 - Kamianets-Poliitsky to Vorokhta - Fri 27 Sept

Day 216 - Kamianets-Poliitsky to Vorokhta -  Fri 27 Sept
Stormy skies and buffeting winds, coldest morning yet, glad we are not staying for winter! Can’t put it off any longer, will have to get up on top box and get out big coats and scarf and beanies today. New brand of longlife milk tastes off, even 2nd carton - first time haven’t enjoyed our breakfast cuppa. Apple trees on trellises – fruit so prolific. Drove through town of Prypruttia, locals have made an art form out of ornate well covers in their front yards or on streets, and wrought metal gates. Proud town, flower gardens blooming. A nice change from SEAsia where flowers (in their absence) were such a luxury.

Next town equally interesting, Boiany - heavy Jewish influence, with more Christian shaped churches/synagogues. Very elaborate religious icons on sides of road eg Jesus on crucifix - some crosses have diagonal bar on bottom adorned with skull and bones. Apparently this refers to Golgotha/Calvary the site at which Jesus was crucified although Medieval tradition says it's the burial-place of Adam and Eve, and that the cross of Christ was raised directly over Adam's skull. People stop at these outdoor shrines, make offerings, bow and cross themselves. We saw one woman lying prostrate on the ground in front. Some are little prayer houses where you can go inside, light a candle, kneel and pray.

Ooh dear, on outskirts of Chernivtsi crossed solid line to overtake a slow vehicle just as police drove by in the other direction. We didn't slow but they turned around and followed us. Don't think this will be an "on your way" event...Nope! The two heavies sat BoyRob in the back of the police car and demanded "300 euros or 3000 griven in cash now, or we will take you to bank and it will cost you 4,500!" Ouch - equals AUS$375 (and no receipt!) Could maybe have called their bluff to see if that was actual fine to be paid into police account in front of other witnesses (would rather it was used to repair some of the awful roads) but what would we gain? It was apparent any fuss would have cost us more money, more time, and maybe they would find other “misdemeanours”  when they saw their cut disappearing. We reluctantly paid over our only euros, but were relieved to be waved on our way.

The mountains were beautiful, big trees, dense foliage, autumn colours, streams running over rocks (water must be freezing). Pretty tin foil towns, from roof down, walls, gables, whole churches, pressed tin patterns, beaten metal, must be blinding on a sunny day!! BoyRob remembered reading about the push to use long-life zinc building materials throughout Europe.

Lots of high school age kids walking streets, break or half-day school schedule? Lunch beside National Park, a mushroomer came out with bucket full and proudly showed us how huge they were. Saw sheepskin fleece hanging on outdoor racks ready for spinning. Dank tall hay bales, some grotesque shapes. Some gates wrapped in boughs, cloth, ribbon and flowers holding two entwined gold rings, or red hearts -"engagement/ wedding happening here". Passed woman in traditional dress, brightly embroidered. View of snowy mountain.  

Found a pretty spot to camp beside pine forest on the top of a rise, approx 20kms east of Vorokhta. Cleared rubbish and rinsed and hung washing (tea towels, bath mat and dishcloths this time). Adopted by visiting dog, found mushrooms of our own but wouldn't dare pick and eat without local advice! Chatted to Miles who we discovered was approx 40kms ahead camped for night. Had email from Guy and Cheryl who weren't enjoying their route through southern Kazakhstan as much, bad roads, cold and rain (sounds similar!) and have now decided to go home at the same time as us. Have to get onto flights though - they said many of the planes were booked out.

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