July 24, 2010
This weekend, we decided to go away to outside Moscow. We wet off at around 7.30 am this morning, to go to a place called Suzal. Its a town situated in what they call here the "golden ring". Roughly speaking, since I am too lazy to look in guide books, these places are in a ring where former princess set home and built churches, lots of churches. Suzdal is situated in Vladimir Oblast.
I strapped my boy into his car seat, set up the Tom Tom sat navigation and we hit the Russian roads. We were looking forward to getting out of the smoke and to see trees and countryside. It took us some time to escape the magnetic traffic hold of Moscow, and eventually we broke free and hit the golden road to Suzal. I can only describe this road as actually being a grey ring, rather than a "golden ring", there was so much grey smoke and haze from the cars and trucks, that it was like looking through a grey fog, plus its has been mega hot here. We crawled through the traffic, like a tortoise who had just woken up. Once we got out of the traffic jam and arrived in Vladimir, I told my wife we should fill up with gas.
We pulled into the petrol station and got out. My son finally stopped screaming and my wife looked at me with an ashen face and said "I have forgotten my wallet, its on the kitchen table". Oh shit.
We did not have much gas left in the tank and I asked how would we pay for the hotel? She then began to panic and her hands were shaking. I asked her if she had a credit card or any cash? She said no, sobbing into her hands. Trying to help as only I know how, I suggested that she call the hotel where we were booked to stay and ask them to lend us money for gas. The hotel had not taken her credit card number, that was back home on the kitchen table, so we could not stay the night and they told us they did not keep cash. I thought of selling my body to the nearest truck driver but changed my mind, I have my dignity. We then desperately asked the grumpy looking woman in the gas station, if she could lend us money and told her we would pay her back and leave our passports with her, but she refused, she stood fast in her decision, even at the sight of a tearful woman and a disheveled man holding a small dirty child.
I looked at the cars computer and it said 200 km remaining in the tank, the sat navigation map said it was 200 km back home...... we could just make it to our door. We got in, buckled up and went back the way we had come. The roads were clear on our side, as the traffic was on the opposite side of the road, the very same traffic that we had just spent hours sitting in! Gripping the steering wheel, till my knuckles turned white, I drove at a steady 60 along the road. The conversation in the car consisted of the following, "how far to go, how much petrol is left", reply, "90 k of gas left, 60 k left to go". This format was repeated every 15 minuets as the gas and distance slowly reduced. My wife, chained smoked and my boy screamed from behind me. I turned the ignition key off at all the traffic lights and took my foot of the gas peddle when going down hill, in a desperate attempt to save the last drops of dirty gas. Every gas station on the road, looked like a piece of apple pie in a cake shop window that you wanted but could not buy as you had no money. Much like our situation.
When the city came into view, I almost cried with joy and I don't like Moscow. At 6 k left to go home, the gas reading said zero and my pants changed to a dark colour. Breaking down, on six lane roads, in Moscow, would be about as much fun as eating boiled cabbage. We prayed to the giant banana in the sky, that we would make it, while my boy gently screamed and threw bits of paper at me from his back seat. Eventually, we got home at 3.30 pm, having survived on just vapor fumes and I kissed the ground and swore never to take a trip outside Moscow again, so next weekend we will repeat the journey, as my wife wants to visit this place. Another road trip awaits me.
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Labels: Suzdal that never was