On The Way to Odessa: The Road Is Life

The road caught us, flexible and free like a cat. Its yellow, silently smiling eyes followed us. Sooner than I realized, we were guided by the flow of the events.

Again and again the magic of things revealed itself in any rides and in the simple beauty of our encounters. Angels and savers, monks and royals arrived to us. Speaking without language, skipping the barriers of words and indifference. The embarrassment of the hugs at the end of each ride and the laughs of the non-understood are an exercise of mimic: training for gesture and instinct.

Un-pre-dic-ta-ble. The road is life and it is a teacher.

When Shaun and I left Amsterdam on the 1st of August, we knew nothing. Nor where, nor how. We had a destination: the dark of the Black sea waiting for us on the 7th: the 789 and the mystery behind this number.

  • 5 days
  • 4 countries (The Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Ukrain)
  • 2500 kilometers
  • 18 angels
  • 1 postcard left and one sent to say thank you and to invite our drivers to the Casa.

Saturday, 1st of August: Amsterdam-Potsdam
14.45-15.45: Waiting at the Amstel station of Amsterdam after hugging Stove

1- 15.45- 19:00: Amsterdam- Gronegau Our first ride with the orange Buddist Maarten, his friends, a goose and a cock-roll. His green van was our first bless, his generosity drove us 100 kms after the German border, way out of his destination. His enthusiasm picked up Stove who we spotted at a different petrol-station and made us travel together for a few more rides. At the final petrol station we had a free meal: three untouched plates left for us by the events.

2- 19:00- 20:00 From Grogenau to Hannover, chatting with Pedra of wind-turbines;

3- 20:00-21:00 From Hannover to Braunscheweig with Sacco. Me speaking at the phone with an Italian born in Germany and missing an Italy that he doesn’t know. We leave Stove camping here.

4- 21:35-23.30 From Braunscheweig to Potsdam, with a Polish family who teaches us essential hitchhiking phrases. Iac toiate. Barzo genkuie. Scepraze. She mozes mie podviest. Proscem.
We skip the Berlin 789 pre-meeting to camp in a tent under a starred sky. We are too happy with the road and too excited with the journey to leave it and enter Berlin. Tasting Pastamadre bread and German beer. With a smile we fall asleep.

Sunday, 2nd of August: Potsdam to Lublin
Waiting long long time for the perfect ride. Too many bags, too many grandpa and grandma on the back seats to have space for us: people seem to be sorry but that doesn’t help.

We shared our time with another road-rider heading to Latvia. Shaun is in love. I wanna eat.

5- 13:25-02:30: from Postdam to Lublin, Sharing stories, stopping to eat, driving her car, crossing her country, looking at the fields, sleeping a bit during a 13 hours ride, 740 kms with Anna. At the end of the day, next to the road, below the trees, under the storm, we listen to the rain: so loud and sweet and generous to Earth and to us that the drops not even touch our clothes or skin. Just a bless and a ninna nanna.

Monday, 3rd of August: Lublin to Lviv
6- 10:30-11:00 Lublin-Piaski: Gregor wanted to pay for a bus ticket that we refused. Gregor’s eyes were enlightened by the idea of our adventure. His first hitchhiking contact, his shininess couldn’t help his innocence and the hunger of communication. Gregor is the reason why I love hitchhiking: his marveled expression, his response to our adventure, the trace we leave behind makes me believe in the destiny of our encounters (karma?).

7,8,9,10,11- 12:00-13:15 from Piaski to Belzec, at the border of Ukraine. Here, we discover the "truck-drivers solidarity chain" and the playful participation of them to our adventure: Piot and the Zulwowshi family(Marek, Magdalena and their 2 kids traveling on a track) are amused by our mission and happy to find us another ride, another ride, and another more. Traveling on the waves of the radio transmission, we fly next to the border, light and fast like the seeds in the wind. Just one more puff, blow for me.

12- 15:40-17:30: Belzec- Rava Ruska (just across the border): walking is not allowed. We stop the first car passing by and we meet the Madras family. Broken English to communicate with father, mother and daughter coming from Poland to go to holiday in Ukraine. Sharing our dreams and our lived utopias, feeling the love between them. Telling us about our families, our past, present, and I-don't-wanna-know-the-future-It's-gonna.be-perfect-anyway-I-wish-one-day-to-be-happy-and-full-of-love-as-you. They offer us a full dinner, paying at the restaurant crazy money, while they are having a soup. I didn't feel like leaving them anymore.

13- 20:00: Rava Ruska- Lviv. On a zebra-covered-seats car. With a crazy girl and her friends. So difficult to explain "write me your address: I send you a postcard from Odessa". So rewarding when they get it. We arrive at night.

Tuesday, 4th of August
Walking, walking, walking. Unable to decide and to trust the road to Rainbow we wait for Robin and Tau to appear somewhere impossible to reach. And I am so disappointed with myself for having lost direction within myself, for not knowing what I want. The magic of the road is somewhere else today, but we still enjoy our time together. Reading, joking, attaching the big dwarf on my belt bag, sleeping on a soccer field, we realize to be the favorite meal of mosquitoes. At least no boars show up.

Wednesday, 5th of August
14- from the nowhere of Lviv ring to Lviv direction to Kiev. We watch a dead bird for a while. We are alive, with Bob Dylan as a music track for our thumbs. The driver of the little van is embarrassed by my hug at the end of the short ride. Everyone needs a hug, but sometime they forget it.

15-12:43- 14:13 From Lviv to Bus’k. No word again. A guy with blue eyes and a black spot next to his mouth pick us up, speeding through the roads, stopping to a restaurant and offering us an amazing lunch. No vodka, no… iacuiu. Yes, we are a bit crazy. Toc toc on our head. But what’s normality at the end of the day? Working for survive? Killing yourself for a career? I want to be Erasmus from Rotterdam here and applaud to the craziness of my soul. Before to let us go, this angel buys us a little angel each. A little doll of clay, gifted with wings and a smile. On her back we fly away.

16- 14:30-16:30 From Bus'k to Rivne. Saved from the rain by a former royalty member driving a white Mercedes. Stopping here and there to show us the landscape. Playing Italian song to listen to my non-intoned voice singing. He crosses Rivne to show us around, calling someone able to speak English to make sure we understand he will drop us at the right spot.

17- 17:00-20:20 Rivne- Kiev outskirt: Mikholau nods when I explain why we hitchhike. Spreading networks of trust. The randomness of the encounters. The destiny becoming alive. New contacts made. Different levels of communication and understanding. He finds us the next ride to Odessa yelling from the window to another truck driver.

18- 20:20- 5:00 of Thursday, 6th of August. Kiev to Odessa.
Full moon here and there. On the road and on the mountains at Rainbow. The energy flows, the street leading and deciding for us. I sleep and I feel sad it's already over.