Author Topic: Cycling Ukraine: September 3, 1994  (Read 523 times)

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Offline Westinghouse

Cycling Ukraine: September 3, 1994
« on: September 29, 2018, 04:20:00 am »
The western edge of Ukraine looked like the outside of a prison. On the border was a tall, electrified, metal fence. The land had been completely cleared of trees and brush about 100 feet on both sides. Another T-shaped barbed wire fence stood at the edge of the cleared strip. At first the country started to look attractive. Large, verdant, green fields of short grass bordered both sides of the road. Cattle grazed lazily in those fields. Horse-drawn wooden wagons hauled hay from those fields. Men hand-pushed bicycles loaded down with burlap sacks full of potatoes and other crops. In a short distance, however, came a perceptible decline in living standards, noticeably lower than in Poland. Side roads were dirty, rutted muck holes. Buildings were dirtier and even more run down looking. I saw a man and a child with swollen infected limbs. It was some time before a restaurant came into view. Hungry as hell and looking forward to a nice big nourishing meal with  small price tag,I had been in eastern Europe long enough to know that only the small price tag on my fantasy would come true. Yet, I still permitted myself this singular delusion. It was impossible to shake the expectation after living 44 years in countries where big nourishing meals were a  birthright. I entered its small,dark, rectangular gloom. The sickening smell was the first thing that distinguished it. It smelled putrid like rancid flesh or road carrion rotting in the summer heat. Out of sight there must have been a big, dead rotting animal hanging from a meat hook. The worn tile floor was covered with layers of ground-in filth. A glass display case held a one-foot diameter round of cheese. On top was a hunk of long-gone meat. The walls and tables were gloomy, grimy and dank. The few dirty mucent characters standing at one table looked more sinister than anyone pictured in the FBI's most wanted flyers. There was no way in hell I was going to eat in that sty.