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‘Flighty’ Kirgizstan

 

It’s the 28th of June, I’m at Karakul Lake Tajikistan. My plan was to stay here and find myself a nice campsite at the lake. But as always: planning has no sense. I met Fabi, Basti and Denis (Threesome with Twins) here at a restaurant and couldn’t resist them when they asked me to come along. So now, after a nice lunch, we are heading for the border and move on to Kirgizstan. This morning I wished for companions and now I have them, if only for a while. I don’t mind riding alone, but some times it’s so nice to share things and to be honest it’s practical and safer as well. But it is like in a relationship: sometimes you love each other but can’t live together. Or the other way round. After a few kilometres I know where the problems are going to be with these guys: not in the loving part, but the practical. First of all their daily rhythm is totally different: me morning person, they evening and the motorbikes are the other difference: They ride on 1200cc; My X has ‘only’ 650cc and is more off road orientated. I notice the difference already in the first few kilometres. The road is tarmacked with only a few potholes. The opportunity to ride faster but my bike can’t. I still have less power and cannot ride faster then ninety kmh. The guys are flying away. After some kilometres we all stop for a photo session with the lake. I tell the men about my speed problem.

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It’s hard to change a well-oiled team and I don’t have the intention to, so I let them drive off. We have to cross a pass again: the Kyzyl-Art Pass (4250 m) that forms the border between Tajikistan and Kirgizstan. Although it’s nice to have some tarmac under my tires so now and then, I prefer the off road parts. My ‘prayers’ are being heard. Suddenly the tarmac stops, the pass starts and then I’m in favour. Riding behind I can see that the big bikes are much harder to ride. I notice I don’t have that much problems riding here. In this pace I can put two fingers in my nose, while they are having a hard(er) time. When we stop to again make some pictures I say to Fabi with a big smile on my face: ‘can you please go a bit faster’. The way he looks at me proofs I’m right. I have been thinking of taking my 1150 GS with me, but now I no for sure I made the right decision.

Almost at the top of the pass we arrive at the Tajik border. It al goes very fast; we only have to pay for a document we should have had. What a nice trick! Neither of us got one when entering Tajikistan so I guess it doesn’t exist. After this border there is a long part of no-man’s-land. The terrain is rough.

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The Kirgiz border takes a bit more time. We have to pay for some documents like in Turkmenistan and I assume we got our insurance covered for the motorbikes. It’s so hard to understand what all the papers are for. All the officials only speak Russian beside their own language.

Again I can feel the difference between the two countries, which here is very obvious. Right after we passed the border and left the mountainous area I see yurts (Mongolian tents) and herds of sheep and yaks. Sheep you can find everywhere but not in this amount. It is greener here then in Tajikistan. And the road keeps making soft turns, through small villages with colourful kids, waving at us and running with us. In between the villages the nomads have found their place to stay in their yurts.

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Riding down we arrive at the first village hoping to find a bank and tank station, but it’s a no go. Just sixty kilometres further on the road there is a bigger village: Gulcha. Hopefully there we are luckier. When we stop at a parking aside the road, some of the nomad kids are running towards us. One of them speaks English. He tells me that he is going to school in Osh. Must be at a boarding school. Osh is still about hundred fifty kilometres away. His friend, who is just as old as he is, goes to school nearby. Why the difference I can’t find out, but you can clearly see the difference in education. His friend doesn’t speak English. He is able to read all the places at the map and really understands where they are. This is not meant to denigrate, but in a lot of countries most people cannot make any sense of maps and in remote area’s lots of people don’t know where other places in the area are. I like these kids. They are outgoing and a bit bold. Strong characters.

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In Gulcha we find what we are looking for: petrol, good one, finally ninety-five octanes and a bank. Unfortunately my euro card is being rejected again, but Denis manages to get money with his visa card. We buy some food and move on to find ourselves a nice campsite. Finally camping again! I’m so looking forward to it. It fits within the habits of the guys to find a campsite when it’s almost dark. I don’t like it. It’s so hard to set up a tent in the dark. Basti, as ever riding up front, suddenly goes left in a right turn. He found a small road going to the riverside. We have to leave the small unpaved road and enter an orchard. What a nice spot! Again you can see the well-oiled team at work. Without saying much the tasks are clear: two start setting up the two tents and the third starts making a fire and prepares dinner. After I set up my tent I join them to help with the cooking. Their fuel burner doesn’t work so I get out mine. Within no time, but already late we are sitting around a campfire eating spaghetti with a delicious sauce. A fusion from my spaghetti and spaghetti sauce I bought in Iran and the just bought tins of meat and vegetables. This is what I would like to have every evening: tent, fire, nice meal, and beautiful surroundings. My biological clock askes me to please go to sleep, so I leave the men to greet my matrass.

Very early in the morning I wake up by sounds of animals. Horses. And one of them is very close. O, hopefully the horse doesn’t walk over my tent! Well he doesn’t but sleeping is not what it was before. Just three hours later when I wake up again I have to pee. I open the zipper of the tent, stick my head out and see that we are surrounded by horses and I also see a man and I think his son standing not far from my tent. They spot me and start to walk towards me. I quickly go inside again and remain quit. They walk pass the tent, making coughing noises. When I don’t react they move on to the tents of the men. I can hold it for an hour but then I really really have to pee. I don’t want to leave the tent so I’m searching for a bottle I can use. I had a perfect bottle with wide opening, just like I’ve seen with other campers. But I lost it. Now I have to Mc giver a bit: I cut off the top end of a one and a half litre bottle. That will work. The only disadvantage: I cannot close it. Have to be careful where to put it ;). O, what a relief!

At nine I have to get out. My timing couldn’t be better. At the same moment also the guys wake up. Now we have to confront the family that I guess owns this peace of land. Luckily Fabi and Basti manage to explain what we are doing here. I see the wife milking the horses. A beautiful sight. Would like to take a picture of it but I already feel an intruder. The kids however are as bold as the kids we met yesterday. They both are standing next to my motorbike. When I ask them if they want to sit on it, they already are. Mum and dad start making pictures all over. They also walk to my tent and before I know they enter it. I just let them. We are on their property.

I must say that (as usual) everyone likes my tipi. They are all very curious and when they enter it surprises by the size of it. I’m so happy with my tent! I wish I’d had more opportunities to camp.

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When we are all read to leave we have to find a way to come back to the road. The horses are blocking the exit. Luckily we find a way through between some trees and because my bike stands in front I have to go first. After all the things I’ve done on this bike so far I still am a bit nervous. And as always it turns out to be not a problem at all.

Today we have to say goodbye again. Fabi, Basti and Denis are going to Bishkek to get their Chinese visa and I’m going to Osh. I have to service my bike and in Osh is a very good workshop for that: Muztoo, lead by Patrik Zimmermann. We have another fifty kilometres of riding together before we split. The guys immediately head off, too fast for me, and I just let them go. Behind the first corner I see a small settlement of yurts surrounded by big statues. I guess they’re shamanic. This is what I’m interested in. I would love to go there but I guess I’ll see some more of this on my way to Mongolia. Now I follow the men. In the village we have to split, we fill up our fuel tank again and search for a place to have lunch. We don’t have to look very far. When we stop aside the road an older men walk up to us. I’m the last one he meets and he is totally astonished to see a woman. With a twinkle in his eyes he immediately asks me to marry him and invites us to have lunch. He leads us to the other side of the street, opens the gate to a big house where we can park the bikes. On the porch a few older men are playing chess and at the right side of the building there is a graveyard with a war monument. The whole scene looks like a rest house for (war) veterans. When we walk inside the scene changes and we enter a restaurant. I love the atmosphere inside. The older men, his name is Mr. John took us to the restaurant of his sister. He lives just a few houses away from here with his wife. Mr. John used to work with the police, he actually was an officer (major) but after his retirement he started lecturing English. His English is remarkable well and you can sense he is well educated. We get the usual lunch: bread with eggs and sausage and lots of tea. Mr. John keeps inviting me to stay, all just for fun. We laugh a lot. But then we have to say goodbye. I guess I will see them again in Bishkek. They have to stay there for a few days and I don’t want to stay long in Osh.

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The next sixty kilometres go very fast. Unfortunately I’m leaving the mountains behind. They are making place for the hot sandy desert. The temperature is rising and it’s getting sticky as well. It paralyzes me. It feels like a heavy blanket is covering me up. In Osh I miss the right exit and have to criss-cross through town. The suburbs are built with mud houses and sandy roads. I didn’t expect that to be honest. I chose Muztoo’s workshop as waypoint, so I can make an appointment and I guess Patrik will know a nice place to stay. I ride through narrow curvy streets to finally reach a bigger road. The workshop is like a sort of European oasis. Bikers from all countries are busy fixing their bikes and the courtyard is loaded with motorbikes: crated, some of them new, projects and at the end of the courtyard, roofed in, even more motorbikes with numberplates from all over the world waiting for their owners to pick them up. Patrik is very relaxed. I can come to service my bike any time, so I tell him I’d like to come tomorrow morning. He also knows a good place to stay with friends of his. I get the coordinates. As I’m standing there, one of the Dutch riders arrives. They have to wait to move on because two motorbikes need a lot of repairing. Nice to meet him again.

The guesthouse is very nice. I love the courtyard with the vegetable garden and flowers. At the end is a roofed terrace with the usual low tables standing on a platform that is covered with carpets and pillows. It looks cosy. Two couples are sitting there. The garage is filled up with a big 4×4 overland truck. Would love to have one when I can’t ride my motorbike any more. In front of the truck I can park my bike beside two others. The room I get is at the front of the house. It looks great. The bathroom is very small and I have to share it with all the other guests. It still is a building project and looks a bit dirty to be honest. Downstairs there is a kitchen we can all use.

The two couples met before somewhere on the road and are pleased to see each other again. One of the couples are French and are traveling for many many years. They started in the eighties and are still driving with the same car. The other couple: Jürgen and Clelia are German and traveling on their motorbikes just like me. They also rode through Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan but a bad accident brought them here in Osh. In Turkmenistan Clelia was hit by a car on their last day in the country. Although she didn’t break something, she had bruises all over her body and some of her joins and muscles still are sore. The motorbike was damaged heavily. Clelia tells me her story and describes the situation in the Turkmenistan hospital she was brought to. One of the wealthiest countries on earth has to do with a hospital where the doors are made out of bars of steel welded together. The beds are made from the same material. Clelia saw people in another room dying in pain. There was no proper medical help available at all in this terribly dilapidated building. Jürgen, who had been in contact with the German Embassy in Ashgabat, was being told to leave the country as soon as possible, at least before 18:00h. Just leave everything behind they said, you could risk going to jail for leaving the country after your due date. Seeing the situation in the hospital they could guess how jail would look like. Jürgen arranged transport, a truck, which he loaded the motorbike and their gear on. They managed to cross the border and got a lot of help in Uzbekistan by a motorclub. Jürgen also managed to fix the bike by flying home to get the parts he needed. Clever I can say after seeing what DHL delivers, or must I say: not delivers. One of the members from the motorclub rode Clelia’s bike to Bukhara but it seemed that the repairs weren’t accurate. That’s why they are in Osh right now, waiting for a friend to fly in with some more parts. They will hire a 4×4 to do the Pamirs. And when return, fix the bike and ride on together.

In the mean time I’m wondering if Hette managed to ride on. While servicing my motorbike I get my answer. Totally worn out he arrives at the workshop. He’s here but don’t ask how. My motorbike gets happier by the minute. Fresh oil, new oil filter, fresh air filter, and I checked all the bolts. Actually I wanted to change the front sprocket as well, but I don’t have a spare one any more. Somewhere on the road my can with spares broke and I lost everything. I noticed it two days ago. Patrik checked the sprocket that I’m using now. It still is ok. I have to order some spares and new tires and let them send to a place somewhere before I enter Mongolia. Again the workshop seems to be the centre of all traveling motorbikers. A really nice and relaxed atmosphere. Looking around at all the projects waiting for repair I notice that almost all of them are heavy bikes. Patrik and agree that we both don’t understand the people who are riding here on those bikes. Again I’m so happy with my X.

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Hette comes along when I go back to the B&B. This morning I asked if I could get a room at the back of the garden. Mine was so hot and the bed too small and too hard for me to lay on. I slept on the ground on my matrass last night. In the afternoon I want to go to the market to get my tankbag fixed (zipper is broken) and one of the rear bags need stitching as well. Hette comes along; we share a taxi. At the big market we both go our way and meet up in the hotel. Actually a funny situation: me going to the market to get my gear fixed and `hette wants to buy a new shirt. Tonight we are invited by the Dutch group to join them at the beer garden. A nice place. I sit right next to the men I’ve met on the mountain pass in Tajikistan. We seem to have a lot in common and end up in an interesting conversation. A lot has happened to me in the last week. Riding alone was necessary to ease down and find myself again. I was restless and wanted to go home after being in Mongolia, although my initial plan was to ride on through China. And I’m more and more able to enjoy life again. Before I left, I was in survival mode, but now I start to live again. Every day I feel more relaxed. Today I actually decided to skip Bishkek and go to Almaty to apply for a Chinese Visa. It’s easier to get the visa there. I also wrote to China Overland that I might be interested in joining the trip from Kirgizstan to Laos that is planned for the end of august. A big hurdle is taken.

It’s Saturday the 2nd of July. I’m more then ready to leave. My goal for today is to get as close as possible to Kazarman. I’m riding alone. The roads are not that heavy and I’ve heard there are enough cars on route. The first part takes me to Djalal Abad. I’ve always liked that name. It sounds funny, never knew where it was exactly. The first part is on well-paved roads but behind Djalal Abad the tarmac ends and the mountains start. My Garmin can’t help it that I loaded an older map, so he points me in the wrong direction. The direct highway isn’t any more. It’s overgrown by trees and bushes. I have to ride back to Osh and have more then an hour of delay, but I don’t mind. This is all part of the trip. On my way to Djalal Abad I meet a couple on their push bikes and two Polish motorbikers. I always stop to talk a bit. It’s not only nice to see other tavelers, but also helpful as well. We shaere a lot of information that way. At Djalal Abad I finally leave the highway to ride on my beloved off road mountainroad again. I’m enjoying my ride so much. When it’s time to look out for a nice campsite I see a path running to the river. I pass, like always. Then again there is a path. I decide to ride on for a kilometre to the bridge so that I can take a look at my planned campsite from there. Looks great. So I ride back, take the first path, have to go through water several times before I reach the riverbank. It couldn’t have been better. This is the perfect spot. There are no nomads close by, which I like for now. Yesterday a couple from Switzerland arrived at the B&B and left today as well. They had to change tires first this morning, but because of my mistake, riding into the wrong direction, they could be not to far behind. Maybe they join me? They don’t. I have the most fantastic evening. Cooking pasta, enjoying the silence and sleeping in my tent. At night it starts raining, but in the morning the sun comes out again. I’m not in a hurry and enjoy my stay as long as I want. I slowly start packing. The tent has to dry, but after a while the sun gets really hot and then it’s better to ride. So with the tent almost dry I leave my perfect campsite. Sitting on my bike I am totally relaxed. It makes me emotional. I’m so happy! This is what I’ve wanted my trip to be. Lets get is started!

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Still in the same mood I come closer to Kazarman. I’d like to stop there to have lunch and buy some food. My goal for today is to ride on to Song Kul, a lake. I’ve heard it’s a perfect place to camp. I cross the river and have to watch out a bit because of the diversions. They’ re building on the road. Just before Kazarman the new road in progress and the old road split up. I hesitate but see that the new to build road is far from ready yet so I go to the right. Not long after my luck turns. A car, coming from the other side, overhauls the car in front of him and drives right towards me. I don’t know what to do, he doesn’t react and keeps going more and more to the (my) right. In a split second I think: If I go to the left now and he goes back to his lane, we have a frontal clash. But he’s driving so far to my right that for me there is no room on that side. I have to dodge to the left that’s my only chance. For a moment I see the car coming right up to me. It’s a dark grey metallic sedan. I’ll never forget that view. I’m not scared at all I notice but I have to react. He doesn’t see me. And then I dodge. I can’t prevent a collision. He hits me on the right side, my front bag rips off and then he must have hit my leg. I fall; the motorbike lies on top of my leg. My leg hurts. It must be the weight of the bike I think, but when I succeed taking my leg away from the bike I feel the bones in my leg moving. Then I know it’s over. I manage to switch off my motorbike and there I sit with my broken leg between my hands. In front of me the road I came from. Still looking as restful as it felt riding there. The red sand road with the beautiful calming red sand mountains. I start crying and shout: its over, its over.

People stop and are coming from everywhere. They ask me to stand up. My motorbike stands already on its tires again. ‘Please stand up, come on stand up’, they say to me in their own language, but I can’t. They don’t understand. I try to explain by showing them my leg is broken, making a sign that looks like it, but still they don’t understand I cannot go on. O, how I would love to. I ask for a doctor and an ambulance. Now they know it’s serious. And I ask for the police. Then I see the man that drove the car that hit me: he is about thirty-five years old and wearing a red t-shirt and blue cap. He stands there a little bit behind. The man of the car he was trying to overhaul, a white Lada, is there as well. Just before the ambulance arrives both men step aside and I can see them talking. The men with the white Lada leaves and then the ambulance arrives after about fifteen, twenty minutes. I’ve been sitting on the ground all the time holding my leg. The only thing I have done is put off my helmet and someone helped me to get out of my jacket. It’s hot, my arms and back are hurting from holding my leg. Hopefully they can help me a bit. I know already I need an operation and have to go back to the Netherlands as soon as possible, but therefor I need a cast to stabilize my leg and I have to know how bad it is. A woman steps out of the ambulance acting as if nothing happened. She’s wearing a green dress, nothing medical. No one speaks a word English, not even the doctor who comes out of the ambulance as well. I try to make clear that my leg has broken, but again no recognition. I feel really powerless. I start crying again. The woman walks back to the ambulance and returns with a syringe. I don’t mind, I know I’m not hysterical, just sad. They want to put out my boot but I resist. No way. My boot has to be cut off. They keep looking at me as if I’m mad but I guess I can convince them to leave my boot on. With some help I’m lifted on the stretcher and in the ambulance. Nobody assists my leg and it hurts like hell. I shout every time it moves. The hospital isn’t far but far enough. It hurts so much I lying down and can’t hold my leg anymore. It moves and I can feel the boned scraping together. We arrive at the hospital I expect them to get me out of the ambulance but they don’t. I have to wait until there is some one who can translate. They leave, all of them and leave me in the ambulance by myself. I can see people walking by and looking into the ambulance but no one comes closer. I’m desperate. I cry and ask for help, but no one’s reacting. After I guess fifteen minutes a man walks to me and helps me to sit up so I can hold my leg. I ask him if he can get my GSM, which is still on my motorbike. I have some of my things with me. While we were still standing on the place where the accident occurred I asked people to get me things from the bike. One of the first things was the SPOT, my satellite SOS device. I forgot about my phone. The man seems to understand me and he walks to his car. Another ten minutes pass. Then as send from heaven I see the man and with him Sarah, the woman I met the day before yesterday at the B&B in Osh. I knew they were close behind me. I can’t describe how happy I am to see her. Now I know everything will be ok. Sarah tells me they knew I was just I front of them, because they met the pushbikers and the Polish motorbikers as well. When they saw my motorbike standing on the side of the road they knew something must be wrong.

Almost at the same time another woman arrives. She speaks a little bit English; I at least can make clear my leg is broken. I get lifted out of the Ambulance. They have to bring me to the second floor for X-rays. The radiologist wants to put of my boot and I again refuse. Sarah takes over and starts organizing scissors and a knife to cut off my boot. She’s worked in the army at a medical team and I can see she knows exactly what to do. When my leg is free the X-ray can be taken. The radiologist, a bitchy woman, wants me to turn my leg, but again I refuse. She’s furious, but I keep refusing. I cannot turn around. With even the slightest movements I can feel my broken bones moving and I can tell you that it’s not a pleasant feeling. Luckily the X-ray she took shows clearly that my tibia is broken through and through.

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Now I have to take the next hurdle. In the mean time I phoned a friend and my brother to get in contact with the insurance company. They are arranging transportation to Bishkek and a flight home. Until I know more about all of that I have to wait. They carry me to a ward and a really friendly nurse puts a footrest under my leg. Now I can relax. Sarah has called Patrik form Muztoo and he arranged a friend to come over. Bakhtygul Chorobaeva is het name and she runs a B&B here in Kazarman. She speaks English perfectly.

The police have arrived as well and with the help of Bakhtygul I manage to explain what has happened, to write down a statement and all other things they need. When they arrived at the site of the accident everyone had left. Michael, Sarah’s husband, transported my motorbike to the police station. I’m glad to hear it’s still running. It seems that my X doesn’t have that much damage. I know my windshield is broken and my bag ripped of. Hopefully it stays this way. The man that hit me has left as well. No one can find him and even if they find him there is nothing to expect. He surely doesn’t have any insurance. I have problems with mine. Before I left I forgot to expand the duration of days I’m allowed to travel in a row. Normally its forty-six days and that I’ve passed already. So my brother and I, I’m also in direct contact with the alarm service in the Netherland now, are trying to find another way to get me out. My health insurance pays for transport to a decent hospital so I can come to Bishkek, but I have to pay for my flight myself. I don’t mind. The only thing I want is to get home as soon as I can.

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Michael, Sarah and Bakhtygul are taking such a good care of me! It takes a long time before I know that a helicopter flight is out of the question. Not because the insurance won’t pay, they even prefer it, but there is no helicopter available. My brother and his wife booked a flight for me tomorrow afternoon. I now have to take a taxi to go to Bishkek: a nine-hour drive over bad roads. Just before I want to call the doctor to put a cast on my leg (he wanted to wait for that until just before the ride), the police comes again and with them the man who hit man and the man from the white Lada. They seem to be friends. The man from the Lada cries. The man in the red shirts looks scared. Bakhtygul told me, after I asked, that there are big consequences for him. He hit a foreigner. Normally when an accident happens they find a solution together. I already hoped that he wouldn’t be found, for him. Now I’m sort of glad. He tells his version of the accident to the police and our stories match perfectly. The police wanted to give me a fee for dodging to the left. Kirgiz law forbids that. But now, with his story that confirms the fact that he drove to my right, I’m hopefully off the hook. I decide to write a statement in which I don’t want the police to prosecute any further. They cannot allow that to happen but it will help the man at least to get a milder punishment. Another of his friend arrives with food and drinks. They all are very emotional and when Bakhtygul explains about my statement they start to cry and can’t stop thanking me. Then the taxi arrives, I need my cast and a handful of lidocaine Michael bought me on prescription. He even bought a big diaper for if… I intentionally haven’t been drinking because I knew I had to keep it dry for a long time so hopefully I won’t need it. Sarah also prepared a pee bottle for me.

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I’m ready for transport now. Some strong men have to carry me down the stairs. I feel like a burden hearing them gasping. Bakhtygul arranged the biggest car she could get. The driver prepared it and I can lie at the back on a matrass. The cast the doctor put on isn’t very sufficient. He only casted the sides of my leg. My bones still are able to move up and down. And that I can feel that when the taxi moves. I scream the first few bumps; the driver slows down. I sit up again holding my leg but after ten minutes when the road is getting better and the lidocain start working I lay down and I surrender.

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During the ride I all the time am in contact with the alarm service. I know by now I have to arrive in an Ambulance at the hospital otherwise the insurance won’t pay a thing, so an ambulance is arranged to pick me up after six hours. The switch works well and within ten minutes I’m in the ambulance. The ambulance staff: three men, are very kind to me. With one of them I can have small conversations with the help of Google Translate. At the hospital in Bishkek the same story: I have to wait until an interpreter arrives. And that isn’t working. I can’t make clear I only need a cast, crutches and a fit to fly document. They are not willing to give me any off that. The whole time I’m on the phone with the alarm service in the Netherlands but also in Russia. The communication sucks and it takes a long time before I can make clear to the Russian Service what I need. In the meantime I’m brought to a ward that’s packed with people. My neighbour who’s been hit by a car as well helps me out. She speaks English and can explain what I need. Now the ball is rolling. Reluctantly they are modifying my cast. Not quit perfect but ok, better then nothing and I get my fit to fly document. I hope it is. It’s written in Russian.

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The ambulance is bringing me to their headquarters where I can wait for my flight at 15:20. Finally also the interpreter, a young woman, has arrived. That makes it all a lot easier. While waiting, the owner of the ambulance service bought me crutches. Now I can go to the toilet and wash myself a bit and change clothes. I try to eat something but get nauseous right away. The only thing I drink is a cup of tea. Because it still is a half an hour drive to get to the airport, I’d like to leave at 13:30. Again and again I tell that to the young woman but she doesn’t get it. ‘We’ve got plenty of time, just relax’, she constantly says. When it’s 13:45 I can’t wait any more. In the mean I time found out the ambulance was called for an emergency. So I walk to the entrance myself and ask her to call a taxi. That seems to help and within fifteen minutes the bill has made up and they found a solution to get me to the airport: a private car.

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On our way to the airport the police stops us. The driver has to get out and gets a ticket for speeding. I cannot help saying I’m annoyed that we left so late. They are helping me a lot and right away I feel ashamed and explain the necessity of getting my flight. We arrive at the airport at 14:45. The girl is a big help. She wraps my luggage and does the paperwork while the driver arranges a wheelchair with support.

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I finally can cross customs to go to the plane. But before I enter the plane I first have to go to the toilet though. The man that pushes my wheelchair brings me to the toilet where the toilet lady is busy cleaning. As I walk into the toilet room I only see squat toilets. No way I can manage to do my business there. The toilet lady sees immediately what the problem is and grabs her small bucket. She helps me to put down my jogging pants and put the bucket between my legs. We both have to laugh and I can’t thank her enough for her help. She hugs me before I leave the room and now I finally can go to the gate. I have to go first on the plane and, that was a stipulation to even get a ticket, I have to walk through the plane myself. That’s what I needed the crutches for. My brother Roel and his wife Irma did a great job. I even have extra room to sit., because the chair next to me has been kept free. When I finally sit in the airplane I can relax a little. With that I start feeling again. When I look outside the window I have to cry. I cry until we are above the clouds. I don’t want to leave yet; I’ve just started my journey…

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