Archiv für Juli 2010

We‘re in Russia!

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Just before leaving the Ukraine, the group was camping in Sedova, a tourist town with muddy but relaxing beaches. In a Mad-Max-race to join the group, Felix, Lena, Louisa and Jeremias hauled their bikes in slow trains 5 days from Berlin to southeastern Ukraine. We were concerned about our passports that had been at the Russian embassy, so Jakob and tyle took the bus up to Ucilvataya/Donetsk, camped with the group from Berlin, stashed the passports that they had been carrying, and rushed back to the main group.

The small group continued on with trains and bikes a round-about way of getting to the border.

In the same time, the group from the Krim split up — Wolf and Pi returned to Germany, and Thimo returned to the group in Sedova.

The boarder crossing at night was short and sweet. Even though we were missing an immigration card from the Ukraine and the boarder police wanted us to pay a large amount of money, after talking with them for ten minutes, we could leave without paying a fine. Boring!

We all met up again in Vjesjelo-Voznjesjenovka, the first Russian town on the main road toward Rostov. There we unexpectedly stayed 4 days, becoming more involved in the local culture. We played several shows, were invited to stay at the Kozaki House (the Kozakis were dissidant partisans during the USSR), and we began give workshops for the many kids who hung around our camp . . . until the police came and told us to leave the border area.

Now from Togonrog, Juri, from Ukraine and living in Russia, has joined us and will ride with us until Rostov.

The Dniep River Tour 2010

20 days on the road since we left Kiev . . . we made around 500 km — that’s 416 km directly on the highway. The rest we cycled going to little towns to play music and to visit orphanages, and going out to beautiful beaches to set up our tents.

In Kaniv, we spontaneously started a show on the street corner and were invited to perform at the orphanage up the hill. So we stayed two days at the beach, creating theater scenes and sand creatures, and finally giving a small show for the teenagers at the orphanage. They were a tough crowd, not wanting to learn anything we had to offer, but they were happy we came and they enjoyed the music.

Thanks again to Wechsel for the great tent — we expanded it for 10 people!

In Cherkasy, Tobi’s tuba, which was smashed after a mishap on the road, got a complete make-over by a guy who repaired the valves and who stayed up all night getting the dents out.
We met some musicians who cycled with us out to a forest for an all-night jam session with the mosquitos. One person wants to join us in a few weeks. Three people from Kiev called and said that they also want to join us in a few weeks. The group is getting . . . big.

In Chigirin, there are apartment buildings at the top of the hill before the main part of town. The flats are made of the same slabs of grey cement that are used for the roads. We had to stop and perform for the people in this desolate and unhappy-looking place. They gave us money but we didn‘t want to take it, so we bought ice cream for the dozens of kids who were dancing with us.
We rode into town and took refuge at the bus station when a torrential rain nearly blew us off the bikes. Someone who saw our show invited us to sleep at his empty apartment — back up the hill, in one of the grey buildings we had seen. That was a cultural experience . . . the comforts of running water and electricity don‘t outweigh the stuffy airlessness and cramped feeling of loneliness in these buildings. But we were grateful to get out of the rain after a week on the road.

In Mikilska, we got the tip to visit an orphanage way out in the countryside. When we arrived, tyle started playing the accordeon and some kids started clapping to Russian songs like „Drysa“ and „Ochi Chornje“. Then some Americans came out and introduced themselves as volunteers from Project Hope. They said that they don‘t want us working with the kids because „it would confuse them“. We „look different“. They explained that „Jesus will be important in the lives of the children“.
We had met some kids in the village, and we still wanted to play for the kids in the orphanage, so we camping just outside of the village. We came back the following day, announcing our show throughout all of the roads. Finally we played for about 8 kids and one older woman. That must of been a sight — as it began to rain, we entered the forest and some of the kids ventured further out of the orphanage to hear us. The American Christians saw us and ushered all of the kids back behind the fence. So we played „New World Order“ for our only audience member: the older woman who blushed and smiled as she pulled on her apron.

In Svetlobodsk, we met someone from the forestry administration. He allowed us to dry out (again) in his small building by the river and to camp and cook over a fire in his yard. We could stay two days, so took the time to rehearse, record our new version of the song „Gente Impresentable“, and do . . .
a Night Show — white faces in black costumes, mimes and mutes, playing clarinet, tuba and flutes, a drummer drumming brokenly, a dancer in the shadows. The sizable crowd of drunken teenagers, in the rain, was a good exercise in improvisational street theater for us.

Moving on to Biletskivka, we stopped to say farewell to the marvelous, the amazing, the one and only
R IIIII C H A R D. The people at the marketplace begged us to set up in front of the market and give them some tunes. That was a great crowd and gave us a lot of energy to say good-bye to our clown Wet Biscuit McGlee with a final show. Well, he says he may join us this winter in Japan . . .

So now tyle is riding the Camel Hump alone, which is possible but not too comfortable. It’s more fun on the downhill plummets if two people are screaming.

In Kytsevolivka, we got the chance to stay in someone’s yard. The next morning Thimo’s bike was gone, along with some of our bags, solar panel, etc. The people from the town searched everywhere, really upset that we would have a bad image of the Ukraine and of their town. But we explained that things get stolen in Germany, too. In the end, everything was found in a forest and was returned to us. What a nerve-wrecking day in the 30°C shade of the berry trees, filling out police reports. We‘re actually glad the back was stolen in -this- town, where so many people could help us. Thanks!

Now we‘re in Dniprodserzhinsk, heading south. There’s a seat on the tandem, so come join us! All creative repairs are only temporary . . .