06 Aug, 2009
Ukrainian Border Ordeal: Part Three
Posted by: Scott In: The Rally
So, keep in mind this is all in sweltering heat–not even the commander’s office had air conditioning. We hadn’t eaten much more than some granola bars and dried fruit over the past twenty hours. Neither of us had gotten more than a couple hours of fitful sleep in the car. We were low on water. We were dirty from road dust. We just wanted to get through this stupid checkpoint and make it to Odessa before nightfall to check in to our hotel.
Seeing that the commander was adamant about me not dropping the car off in Mongolia for whatever reason, I changed my story a bit and told him that dropping the car off was optional and that if he didn’t want me to drop it off then I would drive it back to the UK after the race and ship it back to America from there. This seemed to assuage his doubts on that particular subject a bit (although he asked me the same question a few more times just to make sure I wasn’t lying…or something).
I was called in and out of the commander’s office multiple times during a span of a few hours. Eventually we hear good news: “OK, there is no problem.” Woohoo! We can finally get out of the God-forsaken no-man’s land! I thanks the commander, his crony, and the secretary/translator and run downstairs to tell Collin, who is waiting in the car, the good news. Now to just wait for the paperwork and passports to be handed back to us.
We waited. And waited some more. And waited…waited…waited. Nothing.
We noticed people going home for the day, to be replaced with new staff. Turns out that the previous commandant had lied–he just wanted to pass the case along to the incoming officer so if anything went bad it wouldn’t be on his watch. Time to start all over again!
In order to make a long story just a bit shorter, we had to go through the same question and answer process we had just finished one more time. Or should I say, a few more times. In all we were at the Ukrainian border for over nine hours and didn’t get to leave until to commander decided we could go. We thought for sure he was toying with us, making us complete forms and then making us stand at the back of the line again and again and again while mosquitoes and flies were eating us alive. I really didn’t think they were going to let our vehicle through and started to plan alternate routes, any of which would have added at least three days of driving onto our trip. But in the end the commander called me inside yet again. He had some papers printed out next to him with certain passages highlighted. Looks like he had done his homework and finally believed us. “OK. You can go. Here.” And with that he handed us our passports and car papers.
You better believe we scrambled to get the heck out of there before they changed their mind again!
A picture of the border post where we spent almost the entire day is posted in the gallery.