the ukraine is weak

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July 26th 2006



after spending around 8 hours at one ukraine border only to be denied entry by customs for lack of proper paperwork for our vehicles, we returned to poland yesterday evening. while in line to re-enter poland we ran across another team, the last and the ludicrous, who were also denied. the brits must have been more pathetic in their pleas as they were sent packing to poland directly to the front of the line and with a free bottle of vodka condolences from the ukraine customs dept.

We have ausfahrted the Ukraine

we schemed for a bit, had something to eat and tried a second border crossing. a much smaller point of entry, it appeared on one map and not on another. we nearly plowed through the barrier in the the half-light at high speed. needless to say, they didn't let us out of poland there.

more scheming led to a grab bag of "official looking" paperwork on our part hoping to dazzle and confuse at a third point of entry in the wee hours of the night. anything with some sort of stamp and/or signature went into the pile regardless of what it actually proved. we ended up running into several other teams trying to cross this time. having turned away several persistent rallyers throughout the day, but faced with a half dozen cars in line together, none willing to be turned away, the ukraine eventually relented.

whoa, look at that, the road just ended

since the border we've been caravaning with two other cars. western ukraine in the middle of the night, in the fog, with rumors of police harassment from other successful teams was a very surreal experience. after managing only 30 kilometers in about 2 hours on the worst roads any of us have driven we called it quits for the night in L'Viv in a gas station parking lot. we woke 4 hours later when the attendant conveyed it was time to leave.

we've just arrived in Kiev and plan to hit the official checkpoint (bar) shortly.

at the moment our vehicle documents don't quite fit with ukraine law. we haven't been pulled over yet, but many other teams have. jen is trying to fly out tomorrow returning to the States and we'll meet patrick here in Kiev. which gives us a little time to call up the UK equivalent of the DMV and lay on a thick sob story to see if we can get what we need. we've been told repeatedly that the current paperwork will give us the same problems with Russian and former Soviet authorities.

assuredly more tomorrow. at the moment it's time to relax. and hear stories from other rallyers. ran into one team already from Scotland that ran the Ukraine border after being denied. just shut their lights off and drove through when they were supposed to be returning to Poland.


ps. Seat electrical demons have been exorcised. my mistake to reconnect a ground wire - thanks to team nervous breakdown for their help. they did the same thing a few weeks ago and knew exactly what the problem was. think my days in the car stereo business are over with a 50% success rate. suspect Seat engine stalling due to low idle - happens most often at night when when lights are drawing things down. don't be surprised if the Seat is referred to as Tyrone in future posts. fiesta running like a champ. did rotate two tires in prague. heavy wear on left front was giving a bit of a wobble at speed.