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.


2017 year summary

This is me by the White Sea coast ~200 meters from our new dacha, where my mate regularly drags me out, after a forced walk at minus 20 degrees centigrade (minus 4 Fahrenheit)

An appropriate end of December exercise may be to sum up the results of this year, my fourth one in Kandalaksha.

Making a living remains the number one issue. On that front I’m pleased to note that, after three years here, I seem to have achieved a certain popularity as an English tutor, and have just as many clients – mostly from among the local kids – as I need, three or four one hour lessons on an average day, exactly as much as I can comfortably handle.

As far as providing services to travelers and those who have an interest in Russia but can’t be here, several projects completed in 2017 come to mind.

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Stress therapy for Alexandra

Yesterday drove through 250km of snow and blizzard on the insistent request of my mate, who apparently needed some variety to clear her head off the eider thoughts. If anybody does not know, she is intensely working on a book on the relationship between humans and eider ducks. Sometimes that results in brain overheat, thus the need for a cooling trip once in a while.

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Flu epidemic in Kandalaksha

fluActually, it is a country-wide thing. Schools get closed and people on the street wear masks.

Let me use this opportunity to share with the world my favourite anti-flu method.

First, it is tea with lemon, and hot peppers. Second, vodka, beer, and mulled wine, as much as you can take. Fresh shredded ginger root brew. Carbonated mineral water. Pour into yourself all of the stuff above and go to bed to sleep it off. The world will welcome the new you in two days.