Saturday, May 21, 2022

Our (Not so) Incredible Journey

 Ten days after Russia declared "war" on Ukraine, we pulled the pin and headed for Poland. Our son and his friend were both on the Territorial Defense Force to protect Zhovti Vody and wanted their young families out of the way of danger so they did not have to worry about them . Our son wanted us to go with them for the same reason. We did not want to go but understood his reasoning.

We left at 5 am Sunday in two cars. Tanya rode with her son and his wife and youngest daughter. I rode with his friend and his wife and two young daughters. We were initially part of a longer convoy led through many check stops by a car with flashing lights. Then we are on our own. The drivers stuck to the back roads and kept well south of the main roads as we headed west and south. At one point we were 15 minutes from the Moldovan border befoire we headed north again

Tanya's oldest granddaughter was already in Poland, having gone to L'viv a couple days before the war to a birthday party. She ended up driving a woman and two young girls to the Polish border and shepherding the girls and herself across, while the woman went back. That took a couple days of living outside with many others waiting to cross and eating buckwheat boiled over and open fire. Once the girls were safe with relatives who had been waiting, our granddaughter went to friends of her father's. So our son was anxious to reunite the family.

We drove 30 hours. One tire on the car I was in kept losing air and needing to be pumped up with a portable pump. It was 6 am on the following day before we found a tire repair shop. By 10 am, my driver was totally exhausted and our son was running a 40C fever. We found a hostel in Kam'yanets-Pod'yls'ki and crashed. Next morning the men were in no shape to continue and needed a few more days rest. Tanya and I took the bus to Khmelnytskyi and from there a train to L'viv where we found another hostel. 

By this time Tanya was sick with a bad cold. So we stayed in L'viv for four more days. Got a visit with a friend who had moved her family from Kyiv for the duration and was working on line. Tanya felt better finally and we went to the train station to go to Poland. The place was packed. Mostly women, children and old people.  It took from 10:30 in the morning until noon before we got on a train. We were sent to the last car, reserved for International passports. Black, brown, and Chinese, mostly students, a few Eastern Europeans. It was another two hours before we left and we stopped for an hour or two at a couple places to let trains ahead of us clear.

We got to Przemysl where we were to clear immigration into Poland and sat. And sat. And sat. Close to midnight they let us off at the very last. Took a few minutes to get our passports stamped and we grabbed a bus to Warsaw. The driver was in no hurry and we stopped at a "market" about half way. Everything was free. Clothes, especially for kids, toys, baby carriages and strollers, and food no end. If you are looking to donate to a good cause, the  World Central Kitchen is always in need of money and volunteers. They have fed 25 million meals to Ukrainians fleeing the war. Including to us.

Everyone on our bus except Tanya and I and another woman got off at the hostel in Warsaw. The hostel was a converted exhibition centre. Imagine several buildings the size of hockey arenas. The woman who was headed to her "dacha" in Egypt told us of a good hotel in the middle of the city so we took a taxi with her to the Hotel Metropol and registered. It was noon Saturday. By this time I was sick with Tanya's cold.

Tried to book KLM Warsaw to Calgary for Wednesday. Credit card was rejected so I got my daughter in Regina to book the tickets using my credit card. That worked. Since we needed a negative  Covid test to get into Canada we walked to the nearest official testing office a few blocks away and both tested positive. So that's what our colds were! We were triple vaxxed so symptoms were mild compared to what they might have been. I got my daughter to move the flight dates 7 days.

Our hotel was on the corner of two main drags in central Warsaw. The day Biden was in town the convoys and sirens went all day and all night passed our hotel.

We sat in our hotel room for a week. Didn't explain why, but we wore our masks to breakfast and shopping for food. Free Wi-Fi was a God-send. Sunday we did the quick at home test. Tanya was negative. Not holding much hope, I went for my test and was still positive. Postponed the flights another week. Got to hate that hotel room. This time I tested negative and we were off for home. Stop over in Amsterdam. Huge airport where a bottle of water and one of juice cost 20 Euros. 

Arrived Calgary in mid afternoon. Tanya was immediately given a three year temporary residency and a three year work permit along with a list of other stuff she heeded to get done and organizations to help. That took a couple hours. My sister and her husband picked us up and we stayed at their place for three days. One of the nice things about recovering from Covid is that you can't catch it nor infect anyone for a few weeks. Everyone is safe from us.

From my sister's we went to my niece's place. She and her two girls and her boyfriend and his three kids were all recovering from Covid. Great visit. My son came in on the weekend to pick us up and take us to Edmonton. He and his partner and her two kids were also recovering from Covid. Great visit. Took a bus from Edmonton to Saskatoon and stayed at my daughter's for two days until my Regina daughter could drive us to Regina. It is hard to persuade people we are not on vacation but are wanting to get settled and sort out our lives. 

In Regina we stayed at a friends place until we could move into an apartment on Tuesday 11th. Finally we could sleep in our own bed and unpack our two suitcases and two backpacks. Tanya was so tired of living out of a suitcase. People have been very generous in donating furniture and other home supplies. Value Village, Regina Buy Sell and, Wal-Mart and Dollarama slowly complete our home. We are more settled and have a routine of sorts, which helps with the stress of missing all we left behind.

Tanya is struggling with her English class. She complained to her instructor who said, You want to learn everything in four days?" She obviously doesn't know Tanya. The only reason Rome wasn't built in a day is because my wife was not in charge.

44 comments:

  1. Well, thank you Covid for making everything just that much worse, eh? Glad it all worked out in the end and you're settled now in your own place. The last paragraph about Tanya and the English lessons made me smile. She sounds like one determined lady!

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  2. What a journey. Glad to have you back in Regina.

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  3. First thing I went look the value of Eruo vs America dollar. Bottle of water is expensive. I bet it felt good to sleep in our own beds.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

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    1. Eating and drinking in airports is always expensive but Amsterdam was over the top

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  4. I am so very glad that you are safe for the moment. And from what you have told us about Tanya she will be on top of English very quickly. Damn covid indeed.

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    1. She is doing far better than she admits. I am proud of her

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  5. Thank you for documenting your journey. If having friends thinking of you during that ordeal, you certainly had an abundance of caring thoughts directed your way...and still do! Lyn

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  6. Wow, what an ordeal. I'm glad you made it through war and COVID and bureaucracy and can now relax and de-stress for a while. Except I guess Tanya's still going to stress about learning English. Tell her I completely understand her frustration. Why SHOULDN'T we be able to learn everything in four days?!? Patience is overrated. ;-)

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    1. Thank you for making me laugh about Tanya's English. And stress about family, house, flowers and pets. All adds up but we are trying to establish a routine and relax a little at least.

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  7. Oh my, such an exhausting, but fortunately successful journey for both of you! I am glad your Covid symptoms were mild and it just highlights how valuable/important vaccinations are.

    I am hopeful that with you now being reasonably settled for the near future that both of you can truly relax some because the stress you have been experiencing can itself take a toll. Hopefully you can rejuvenate and feel physically excellent as you wait for this damnable war to end.

    PipeTobacco

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    1. Yes, Vaccinations are so important. I do not understand not getting vaccinated. We are waiting to qualify for my fourth since getting our third at the beginning of February.
      I need to get out and walk. Running is out of the question.

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  8. I am SORRY for you all. Wish I could help you and many other Ukrainian AND Russian friends. I do not know what got into the Madman. We were given permission to teach 20 miles out Moscow. Were treated very good.
    Thank God for your safety.
    Thanks for the report.

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    1. Thank you. Putin has gone mad. Yes, there are Russians who know and understand what is going on and either must leave or must remain silent. And the suffering of Ukrainians, even those who have been able to flee the war zones is incredible. Ukraine must win and Russia must pay

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    2. One from UkraineMay 22, 2022 at 10:21 AM

      He is not madman. He just trying to secure to himself, to RFia right that seems like West gobbled to itself -- right to bomb out any country they deem as "undemocratic","terroristic", etc.

      Don't think wrong -- I am totally against Putin.
      But.
      Inability of West to see Truth, that that is backlash to their own misdeeds -- that is vulnarability Putin trying to exploit.

      To return us all in times of Big Game -- when european saw all World as playground for their bloody colonial turnament.

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    3. Putin is not mad in the sense of insane anymore than Hitler or Stalin though there may be touches of that. Yes, he seems to think that his "Burkina Faso with nucs" which he and have robbed blind should be treated the same as USA. Unfortunately by not developing the economy of Russia, he has no real means of demanding respect at all other than nuclear threats. The Great Game of the Cold War will never return because Russia is nowhere near USSR or the Russian Empire in size or power.

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    4. One from UkraineMay 24, 2022 at 11:00 AM

      Big Game that is reference to 19th century efforts of British Empire.

      And that is Nortern Nigeria with Nukes. Last time I heard it.

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    5. Yes, you are right about the Great Game being 19th century British vs Russian Empire. Northern Nigeria is good too

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  9. I was so worried that something really bad happened to you and your family. I'm so glad everyone is safe. Damned Covid. I know from the story that Tanya is a strong woman she has gone through so much and she will persevere. But thank goodness you are all alive.
    I recently saw a segment on TV about World Central Kitchen and how Ron Howard is doing a documentary on Chef Andres and the organization in Ukraine. I was impressed by the work that they are doing so much that I donated $400.
    Slava Ukaini!

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    1. Thank you for contributing to Chef Andres. A friend of a friend in DC volunteered and is or was at the main kitchen in Poland. The food they serve is wonderful. Slava yiyi heroyam

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  10. My wife and I kept checking the blogs hoping to hear you and Tanya were ok. Stress from critical situations takes a long time to get over,- and can have physical consequences. If you can; unplug yourselves from the world for awhile. Take care
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Yes, stress sure has physical repercussions. Tanya's BP is acting up. She blames the weather, I blame stress. Unplugging from the news is impossible. Neither of us can not know what is going on in Ukraine and I follow US politics out of my masochistic tendencies.

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  11. Fodder by a master. Sounds as though you're getting enough food, sleep and family. Cheers! на ваше здоров'я

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  12. It is good to know that you and family are safe and your trip, while bad, wasn't any worse/harder than it was. Hopefully one day soon this craziness will be over and y'all will be able to return a home you love and miss. Travel is hard. A race to safety is something I cannot even imagine. Take care.

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  13. Hooray, you are back on line at last. So glad to see you posting your travel stories. I'm just coming back on line after a huge storm knocked most of S Ontario sideways over the weekend, lots of damage, and no power or internet for a day and a half. I know how much Tanya is missing her flowers, I hope Vitalik knows the difference between weeds and flowers! Pats on the head to Lucky!

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    1. That was quite a storm. Multiple tornadoes from what I could gather. Our next door neighbour Lucia looks after our flowers too and she is very knowledgeable as her flowers are also lovely. I would love to pat Lucky. His pictures are my screen background

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  14. What a journey! Paul and I kept asking Ky how you and Tanya were and where you were. You both must be exhausted. All the stress, and COVID to boot! So happy you made it safely to Regina. We hope that Tanya’s family, in Europe, is safe. English is such a quirky language, but we know Tanya shall do well!

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  15. I'm glad to see Ukraine kicking Russia's ass for the most part.

    I hope nobody else Ukrainian dies during this horrid invasion

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    1. The fighting is really savage lately as Russia has changed tactics and is slowly pushing Ukrainians back as they do not have the weapons needed to hit the Russians from long range.

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  16. What a harrowing Ordeal, but I'm so glad you're Safe and I laugh at Tanya who would have built Rome in a day, we need people like that... especially around here, I never seem to get enough done! It's great that so many are assisting those fleeing and not charging them for necessities and doing all they can for the displaced. Those that would exploit Refugees should be ashamed.

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    1. So many people are helping Ukrainians fleeing the war. It seems to have brought out the best in people

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  17. I've tried commenting before but for some reason, it went into the Ether or something. What a harrowing journey you've had and I'm so relieved you and your Wife are Safe.

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    1. Your comment showed up. I had difficulty replying to it and had to close down Blogger and open it again. That worked but sometimes does not.

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  18. Sympathies. Glad your family made it out OK!

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  19. I rejoice exceedingly that you are safe. I have thought about you and yours many, many times, and hoped with all my heart that you would resurface. As hard as things have been, at least you're safe now, and at least you know you're cared for. Given that the war makes a early return date unlikely, what happens when Tanya's three years are up--can she at least renew? Does being married to you not qualify her for permanent residency? Would you put your email address in the comment section on my blog (in a comment pane all by itself)? I can't make the link on your blog connect to my mail program--I won't allow your address to appear.

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    1. Tanya will apply for permanent residency. I will do that.

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  20. I have not been blogging in recent years so had not caught up with your news. But today I went searching and found your blog again - and checked to find your news and whether you are all safe. So good to know you are. Hope Tanya succeeds in making things secure and can get back to you soon (with your much-loved pet). Australia is proud to be supporting Ukraine with military aid and we voters are keeping up the pressure for that to continue.

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    1. Hi, good to hear from you and trust all is well with you. And many thanks to Australia for supporting us. Slava Ukrainii

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