The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Moscow to Irkutsk
“Where did you get this?” I asked.
“Oh, I bought it in a shop, this is Ganesha, the God of businessmen. I’m doing business, so he’s helping me,” said Fyodor and laughed.
Half an hour later he dropped me off near the parking lot. Failing to get a ride, I went straight to a tank trunk that was parked nearby and talked to the driver about weather and road conditions. Then went back to the spot, and still not a single car stopped for me! Tired and cold, I took out the thermos to drink tea, but at that exact moment another cargo van stopped. The driver, a young guy aged 20-22, said he’s going to Yelabuga first, a 1000 and something years old small town in Tatarstan, but then, if I don’t mind waiting for him until he’s done with unloading the cargo, he’ll drive me to the city of Naberezhnye Chelny. It was cold outside, and I had no wish to freeze on the road, so I accepted his offer. In Yelabuga, while he was doing his job, I wandered around the town.
At 11.20 AM I got off the van in Naberezhnye Chelny, got to the road to Ufa, and 15 minutes later I was already in a Lada car, listening to the driver Volodya’s story about a policeman. “So once I took my father’s motorcycle to go to a nearby town. But a policeman stopped me on the road to check my documents. So I gave him my driver’s license and the POA, because the motorcycle was registered under my dad’s name. The cop took a long look at the documents, and then began to shine like a sun. ‘Hey, this is not your motorcycle,’ he said. ‘Yes, you’re right, it’s not mine, it belongs to my father, it’s written in the POA,’ I answered. The policeman turned pensive and examined my papers again, and then suddenly smiled. ‘Your father’s, you say? Really? Then how come you have different patronymics if he’s your father?’ said he. Can you believe that?”
I left Volodya near Menzelinsk not far from a roadside café. In just 5 minutes I was already freezing. So I went in the café to get hot water, for which I had to pay 10 rubles realizing that that was my first money I have spent on the road from Moscow. Then I noticed a driver having dinner in the café. I asked him if he could give me a lift towards Ufa. He agreed. By 3 PM we were already driving through Bashkortostan. With 70 km left to the city of Ufa, capital of Bashkortostan, the driver decided to make a stop for an hour. I thanked him, left the truck, and in 10 minutes I got a ride from another cargo van. The driver named Alexey was telling jokes all the way to Ufa. We crossed the entire city to the other end, where I was dropped off at the bus stop. Alexey explained me how to get to the Chelyabinsk highway, wished me good luck and left.
While waiting for the bus, I decided to drink a cup of tea. I took out the thermos from my backpack, poured some tea into the cup and was about to take a sip when suddenly I heard a voice:
“Lucky one! You have tea.”
I turned back and saw a skinny girl who shivered with cold. It was -20 degrees outside.
“Here, drink a little, this is green tea,” I handed her the cup, she took a few sips.
“Where are you going?” she asked then.
“I’m hitchhiking to Irkutsk.”
“What? Are you crazy?”
“Here, drink some more tea, you’ll get warm now.”
“And here’s your bus,” she said, handing me the cup.
“Thank you. Goodbye.”
“Have a nice and safe road,” said the girl.
I jumped into the bus number 71 and soon got out of Ufa to the Chelyabinsk highway. A small spot lightened with the light of the only working lamppost around. At 9.50 PM a Volvo truck picked me up. The driver’s name was Mars. He happily shared stories of all women he made love to. By midnight we passed the town of Sim and got to the parking lot near Kropachyovo. Mars said that he’ll drive to Yekaterinburg in the morning, and since that was a different direction, I thanked him and left walking along the road. I was in the Ural mountains now.