Crossing the EU border
Ukriane, Slovakia, Uzhgorod, August 2014
There is airco when the driver feels like it. It is nearly 40 degrees in the bus from Košice in Slovakia to Uzhgorod Ukraine. This will be my first time to cross an EU land border to the former Soviet Union. I hear some English being spoken on the bench at the back of the bus (marshrutka)
Anabel looks at me curiously but she is too shy to talk. Her mother encourages her and I learn she is 8 and lives between Leeds and Manchester. Her English is fluent with a mid-England accent. Her mother worked in Prague where she met her English father 11 years ago. Anabel feels at home in her native country but likes to see her grandmother.
The family will visit her now, she lives somewhere outside Uzhgorod. Annabel can count in Ukrainian but is not really interested to learn the language. When she talks to her grandmother her Ukrainian gets a bit better.
Each year they go back to her home country though this route is a new one for them. It is a cheaper connection and in the end faster.
On the Schengen border, there is some trouble, a passenger has to leave the bus. Most passports are full of the entry/exit stamps from Ukraine. Goods are carried up and down, it is not really smuggling, just transferring the maximum amounts. To Slovakia, the “workers” carry alcohol and tobacco, back anything not readily available in Ukraine. Though all is expensive in Euroland the market does not provide all.
Then just before Uzhgorod to my surprise, her mother shows a picture on her smartphone. It is her other child, her son, he lives with her mother. He is 21 now and does not speak English at all. I realise that brother and sister grow up so differently and cannot even communicate.
The bus stops and we have to get out. The goodbye seems too abrupt but they have to catch a mashrutka to the village of destination.