Saturday, 30 June 2018

Day 24

I spent a restless night on the settee of Myron and Magdalena in Velyka Kopanya. Myron was up at 3am making a right old racket as well as having a cigarette. I don’t think he returned to his bed and the next I heard was his loud music from the garden at 0530. What a guy! 

I got up at 0630 needing the toilet. It was one of those old fashioned outside ones. I also discovered that it was also just a toilet seat covering a 1 metre drop into a “catchment area”. Oh man. What a start to the day. It was like being in Australia all over again. 

Myron had made what looked like porridge. I didn’t have any appetite (surprisingly) so I declined. He had also made a very large kebab on a skewer. I politely turned that down also and he shared it with the dog. 

I accepted his offer of a coffee and a glass of water. Although the water turned out to be Vodka! I drank the coffee and thanked Myron and Magdalena for their hospitality. Myron’s parting words were “Optimistic, yes. Pessimistic, No”. I think he was referring to my journey. I headed down the road on what was a very warm and sunny morning. 

On the long straight road to Khust, I saw this very interesting sculpture that, without being blasphemous, I could related to. 

I reached Iza and noticed many stores selling wicker/bamboo products. The level of craftsmanship in products looked very high indeed. 

I decided to stop and cook something at the 11 mile point. I hadn’t had a bite to eat all day and was feeling very hungry. I opted for a vegetarian curry and rice ration pack. It wasn’t too bad. Soon after I ate, I met an elderly man, who didn’t speak a word of English, wearing a naval hat. He shook my hand, said something in Ukrainian and I replied with the usual “Belgrad, Serbie, Romania, Ukraina, Kalush, Zhytomyr, Kyiv” while gesturing a running/walking action with my fingers. I think he got the message and he took 20 Hryvnia (about 57 pence) out of his wallet and handed it to me. I thanked him and was on my way again. It will get paid to St Benedict’s Hospice via my Virgin Money Giving page. 

The last village I passed through before I started climbing into the valley was Horinchovo. The route became very undulating after that but I enjoyed the greater challenge of dragging Chappie up the numerous steep climbs. 

I saw a sign with a picture of some bears and an exclamation mark. I immediately sent Erik, who I met 3 days ago, a message requesting that he told me what it said in English. I was relieved when his reply read “It is forbidden to hunt protected animals. Illegal hunting is punishable by jail". 

At the 24 to 28 mile points for the day I saw a van delivering fruit and vegetables to the locals. I had the standard conversation with the driver and I think he got the message. 

I finished the scheduled day’s route after 28 miles. 5 of that is what I didn’t do yesterday plus today’s 23 miles. I continued on looking for a safe place to stay. I thought I’d found somewhere but this chap had already picked a good spot. 

At the 30 mile point, I asked some ladies (via Google Translate) if I could camp anywhere in their village. They pointed down the road and I found a place just outside the village boundary of Pidchumal. 

I setup camp at the side of the road having travelled 30.4 miles. That’s a new record for this tour. Typically, that haul of miles came in the mountains. I’m now only 79 miles away from Kalush and find myself 2.4 miles ahead of schedule with 4 days to get there. The odds are in my favour. I just hope I recover ok after today’s big haul of miles. 

The good news is that I’m in the mountains and the Synevir National Park is very close. It’s nice to have a change of scenery.