The most striking piece of bad news is the collapse of the railroad bridge near the City of Kola on or around June 3, thus cutting the railroad connection to Murmansk. This was caused by high level of water in the Kola River. The governor apparently declared it will be restored within five days which, of course, is totally unrealistic.
Finally made it to the right (lower) side of the Kolvitsa river yesterday and saw what was left of the famous hydroelectric power station that was built in 1949 and supplied energy to Kolvitsa and a few neighbouring villages until the mid-1960s. Five or six boulder-filled log cages are still there. Was impressed.
Large cubes of ice were delivered to the square in front of the City Administration Offices yesterday, and now artists are working on them. Their creations should be ready by March 1, which is tomorrow…
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
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, 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.
Continue experimenting with the fucus seaweed. Tried chickpea patties with fucus yesterday. Liked them considerably. Just chop up marinated fucus, mix with chickpea flour, add water and throw them onto a pan. Off to collect more today..
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.
A few days ago I received the following letter from a Polish traveller to this neck of the woods. I’m reproducing the letter in its entirety, with author’s permission, in the hope it may be of use to other potential travellers here.
2 months ago I asked you some questions before the trip to Teriberka, Tumanny and Sredny peninsula. I returned home recently.
I want to tell you, that all your informations were correct. I wasn’t
arrested there. Also, there are no gas stations, tire services nor car
services at the road to – and in – Teriberka and Tumanny. Nature is
astonishing there, and Teriberka is really magic place. I saw Kandalaksha
too, and many other towns, like Kalevala, Belogorsk or Kirovsk.
When trying to drive to Sredni peninsula, despite being careful, I destroyed
exhaust in my car after just few hundred meters. It was huge mistake, this
road is exclusively for SUVs and 4×4s. I’ve been in workshop in Zapolyarny,
but damage was so severe, I was forced to leave to Norway with broken
exhaust, because my visa (and temporary car importation) was about to
expire. Nobody in low cars should try to go there.
Also, while going to Teriberka/Tumanny, I noticed as low temperatures, as 2
deg. C. (5 – 8 was typical). The temperature sensor was at a mirror, so just
above the ground, near 0 was possible. So, driving there, at the end of
June, with water in radiator was possible, but risky.