Realities of local life: the road to Teriberka

One every few days we hear a report of a bus full of Chinese travelers stuck on this road. Not surprising. Conditions here, in the south of the Kola Peninsula, are much milder. Bare ice everywhere is the biggest of our road problems..
A recent photo by Alexander Popov

Hungry bears in berry-less woods

This summer was exceptionally cold. As a result, there are practically no berries in the woods. That leads to a lot of hungry bears roaming the forests and occasionally exploring garbage dumpsters in a desperate attempt to put on some fat before the winter sets in. Lots of bear excrements in the woods between Malinovoye, where our dacha is, and Luvenga. The locals who are in the habit of taking early morning walks say there are four of them in the five-kilometer long and narrow strip of trees between the seacoast and the road. As of recent, they have been containing a lot of rowanberries, which is not at all typical bear food.

A pile of bear crap with undigested rowanberries for your aesthetic enjoyment

A story from Chernaya Rechka (“Black River”) in Karelia reached me yesterday. A black bear occupied a cranberry field and refused to leave even when the local women shouted at it – not a typical behaviour for this beast. Now these women are said to go cranberry picking accompanied by men with shotguns.

Lighthouse Foundation collecting funds for the publication of the book on the history of eider ducks and people

Lighthouse Foundation, a German organization that effectively promotes sustainable development of the coastal areas around the world, has listed the collection of funds for the printing of my mate Alexandra’s book on the relationship between Eider ducks and Man throughout history among its projects.

Here is the beginning of their page on Alexandra’s Eider book:

This is the world’s first pop­u­lar sci­ence pub­lic­a­tion ded­ic­ated to the world-wide his­tory of the re­la­tion of Man (Homo sapi­ens) and the Com­mon ei­der (So­ma­teria mol­lis­sima): from the ei­ders in the ex­cav­a­tions of an­cient hu­man set­tle­ments to the ei­ders in art; from myths and le­gends to the latest sci­entific re­search; from the ei­ders as hunt­ing trophies to them in the mu­seum col­lec­tions.

Read more at the Lighthouse Foundation site >>

Those wishing to make a contribution towards the printing of the book will find banking information to the right of the Eider page on the Lighthouse Foundation site.

A car trouble sketch-of-life example from the same traveller

Another story from Jack from Poland (see the previous story) that may be worth sharing to show the spirit of the country. Reminds me of another couple of travellers who got a free tow from Petrozavodsk to St. Petersburg. So yes, I’d say the situation described below is “typical” for Russia.

While it wasn’t in your neightborhood, I would like to share with you a
story, what happened a week before.

As always, I prepared my car thoroughly for the trip. But it’s impossible to
predict every failure. At the Russian border, a leak started from the
cooling system. My repairs didn’t helped for long. Two days later, in the
middle of nowhere, a big diameter, long, rubber hose, has disintegrated
totally, due to it’s age. It was looking like a new from outside, while
being a garbage inside, at least at a section of it.

Without much effort, I stopped a man, who, using a rope, towed me to an
unpaved parking lot at a tire service at route M20. He drove to that place
only for me, and took money only for the fuel.

On this parking lot were two military trucks. Soldiers were taking a rest.
When I opened the hood of my car, they immediately came to me. We all saw,
that the fix is simple, but what can I do without new hose? They tried to
cut off hose from their pump (used for pumping oil, I think) to replace that
in my car, but diameter was different.

A man from tire service soon appeared. He gave us all what was necassary: a
short L-bend hose (from some car), a steel pipe and electric angle grinder.
Soldiers cutted out excessive lenght of the pipe, removed rotten part of my
hose and assembled everything, using their own hose-clamps. They even filled
the cooling system with water from their own portable tank and bleeded it.

Soldiers (like the tire-shop guy) didn’t wanted money. I tried to gave them
some jars and cans with food from EU, at least. They refused to take more
than 1 jar, and one of them gave me an emblem from shoulder of his uniform.

Contrary to this, in my country (and some others) it’s not easy to find free
help. And it’s a real rarity, when somebody offers help to you, because he
sees you need it. Russian soldiers repaired my car for free, they worked
over 30 minutes till my car was ready to go, wanted nothing in exchange, and
they did this before I asked them for help. Today, after 10,000 km, their
kludge is still working.

While, when visiting Russia, I’ve met many times with warm reception and
gifts, nothing can beat those four soldiers. And their emblem, a personal
gift, is my most valuable souvenir.

Jack