Back home

Sunday, August 17, 2014

You are now hosted by Vladimir and Nadia. Loneliness at the hotel was difficult and you enjoy the discovery of the family life in Russia. Since yesterday, you help Vladimir in a large cleaning operation. In addition to the museum, he rents two other flats that used to be dedicated to the WWF which Vladimir was the representative in Chukotka. He stopped several years ago this representation, but kept the flats that gradually became filled with a thousand things as diverse and varied. But he learned two days ago that the flats will be inspected on Monday by the town administration. They should therefore be cleaned in a hurry.

In the evening, you go to the public bath with Vladimir and Ronald. This is the first time you enter in a public bath in Russia. This sounds like the ‟ hammam ” that you had discovered in Algeria except that everyone walks completely naked. Vladimir presents you the director of the University Center. You knew the showers after a rugby game, but it is surprising to you to discuss naked with very honorable people. This probably helps relationships in everyday’ life. This stout gentleman could be a bank manager. And this one, may be a policeman? Naked, all appear equal, despite plus or minus a few dozen kilos. Everyone just talks with his neighbor.

Back at the apartment, you find Nadia. She spent the day collecting blueberries in the tundra with her friend Natacha. Natacha and Nadia are both from Siriniki. Natacha is Eskimo while Nadia is Chukchi. Childhood friends, they have received all their schooling together, then, went to Saint Petersburg University. Today, their daughters Lena and Gula are just as friendly and follow the exact same ways.



Monday, August 18, 2014

You remain concerned about the shipping of the bike. Vladimir is convinced that Serguei will find the solution. But Serguei cannot anything more than you. He calls the airline companies, which redirect to Moscow. The eight-hour time difference mean that there is nothing to hope until the evening. So you go back to the river to find Nadia and the children of the camp.

At the evening Gula, Lena’s friend, telephone for you to VIM Avia, the second company you didn’t try till now. Gula spent several months in the United States and she speaks English perfectly. Within minutes, everything works out. Each package is limited upto 150 kg, but you can split the load in several packages. Gula requests a quote for 260 kg and you should receive it by email during the night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

You have received the email from VIM Avia. A quote that gives you a smile. There has still to split the body of the bike to make it two parts. So you join Sergei at his warehouses. With the help of two of his employees, Sergei involved in repacking. On your side, you have removed the rear wheel and also the holding tubes for the boat. A weight reduction of about 20kg. What remains of the bike must weigh less than 110kg. That leaves forty kilos for the crate.

Finally Serguei insists to lay the bike on the basis of the crate. Instead of rebuilding a closed crate, it covers the whole with a tarpaulin, and then with a large plastic wrap. You hope that it will be accepted by the airline. But it seems to be as light as possible.

You are surprised to see Sergei so much involved in the operation. He manages a company with over a hundred people, but it attaches importance that all goes well for you.

The wheels, the fork tubes, and other accessories are placed in separate boxes. In total 5 cartons plus the motorcycle.

Now you can purchase your own flight ticket. You realize that the price is surprisingly low: 700 euros for the 260 kg of cargo and 400 euros for your ticket. In 2010, you had paid twice more for a fly Montreal-Barcelona” and four times more for “Melbourne-Buenos Aires”. You take advantage of the weakness of the ruble.

Each dinner follows the same ritual: Vladimir watching the news that report about Ukraine, he curses again Westerners, then smiles when joining the table. Today, he talks about his own crossing of the Bering. You had thought it was an unofficial journey, with friends, but Russians do not play with the border guards. They had authorizations. Two successive crossings were organized by Alaska and Chukotka at the Perestroïka. A way to celebrate the end of the cold war. A team of Russian from Chukotka, sailing on Eskimo boats, was supposed to meet an American team from Alaska, sailing on kayak. The first expedition failed because of bad weather, and the second went well. Since these expeditions, Vladimir has friends in Alaska.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gula accompanies you to the airport for the delivery of the bike. On the barge, you ask her about her life as a student in St. Petersburg. Also about her Eskimo origins. She has participated to cultural events between Eskimos of different nationalities. For these meetings, she went to Greenland and to Canada. The Eskimos, who are now called “Inuit” in Western countries, inhabit the polar regions of Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Chukotka. You discover as well as for thousands of years, these peoples lived and traveled on different continents. The Inuit of Greenland and Chukotka have different traditions and dialects, but Gula assures you that there are many common words, and that communications are possible. However, those of Chukotka and Alaska were part of the same ethnic group, the Yupiks. For them, crossing the Bering Strait has long been a regular, trivial, event. Again, the myth of Christopher Columbus discovering a virgin continent crumbles.

You also talk with Bertol, the driver who works for Sergei. He is originally from Bukhara. The economic crisis in Uzbekistan is so difficult that you have met many Uzbeks in Siberia. You can imagine it must be difficult to be an economic migrant, living so far from home.

At the airport, you are asked to enter the cartons and the bike through a small door on the side. Probably for reasons of customs rules. But the door is too narrow and you have difficulties to raise the bike to make it fit.

Without particular explanation, the lady who receives the parcels, tells you that the cartons will fly tomorrow, but the motorcycle next Tuesday. Your disappointment is so strong that after a few minutes, she changes her mind: the bike will leave tomorrow as well if you just sign papers tomorrow morning before 10am. No worries, you will be there before 10am.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You wake up with a fever. Children and Vladimir seemed for some days affected by the flu. It is now your turn. This may complicate the end of the journey.

You take the barge at 8 am to be sure to be on time at the freight terminal. Everything is going well, and you can then join the passenger terminal. The planes are few to take off. This morning, only two helicopters, and this afternoon, the VIM Avia flight. You realize you could have asked if it was possible to travel the motorcycle by helicopter to Provideniya. For these huge devices, the weight of the bike is certainly not a concern. It was probably the solution. It is now too late.

Because of the holidays, you thought that the plane would be full. This is far from the case. Less than thirty passengers for 200 seats. It is true that five flights a week for a town of 14,000 inhabitants, this seems quite over-sized. Flight duration is 8:30 hour. Probably the longest distance in the world for a domestic flight.

Moscow. The landing took place at the scheduled time: 4pm but with 8 hour time jetlag, it is already midnight for your body. You get your bag, and look for the “cargo terminal” . Once there, you’re welcome. The only concern is that you are headed on the “international” terminal while the motorcycle was stored at the domestic terminal. Finally, the agents call the other cargo terminal to move the motorcycle to where you are.

Time passes. At 7pm, the bike has arrived. You have then to go to offices to pay the airport taxes. At the end, you start opening the cartons to 7.30pm, 3.30am for Anadyr. You are very tired.

The fact that the motorcycle is lying make reassembling easier. But you’ve removed a lot of little things, and it takes time. You did all that finished around 9.30pm. It remains to find fuel. Your tanks are completely empty. You ask someone who works at the terminal if an employee can not sell you one or two liters of petrol. You have a hose to siphon. Unfortunately, he and his colleagues have diesel cars.. but he ensures that he will find a solution. Time passes. Oleg works on the site with his wife Julia. Julia speaks English. They take care of you, bring you water, sandwiches.

Julia and Oleg end their workday at 11pm, and it’s already 10.30. They offer you to sleep at their home, but they live 70 km to the south, away from your path. You are too tired to ride so far. They are looking for a hotel and they want to accompany you to the gas station.

When starting, you realize that you have no clutch. The bike lost oil, and the small tank is now full of air. The disadvantage of hydraulic controls. You start as you can and follow slowly Oleg and Julia car. Fortunately, traffic is low at this time and you get to avoid full stops. At the gas station, then to the hotel, Julia pays for you. Impossible to give her money back… Until the end of the trip, the Russians have been very generous with you.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Petr, the owner of the hotel is a Francophile. He helps you to find oil for your clutch. He also calls Andrey, a biker friend with whom you discuss trips. At the end, you leave Moscow only at early afternoon. Shortly after you left, the rain arrives. It does leave you practically to the house.

From Saturday 23 to Tuesday, August 25, 2014

You ride always in the rain. You take paracetamol regularly to contain fever. Your rain pants is punctured. You’ve used it for the river crossings. Probably he did not support multiple times you sat on stones. So as soon as the rain is blown by the wind, water enters your bottom and you are in a bathe, soaked.

Riding without the boat make things much easier. The bike seems so light now, even if the panniers weight more than 25kg each. And no more stress about the side stand when parking.

You do not hesitate to choose comfortable hotels. You need to warm you up, to dry. You are also surprised by the quality of hotels in Lithuania and Poland. Quality being equal, you would have paid at least two or three times more in France.

Tuesday morning, you’re between Berlin and Nuremberg. You can finally go to a bike shop to buy a new rain pants. You still get rain the rest of the day, but you now stay dry.

You arrive at your house about one in the morning. The last day, you drove about 1100km, three quarters in the rain. But you knew it was the end of the trip. Although conditions were not ideal, you have enjoyed these last days on the road.

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