I set off from Mesgori with the distinct feeling that I was now going
downhill to the plains of Hungary. After over a month of the
mountains, much of it spent with Mike Dillon who had come to film, I
felt ready to finally exit my way down to what will be the last border
crossing of this entire journey. If the carpathians were the last
barrier between the Mongols and Europe, then the border with Hungary
will be mine.
Moving early in the morning, resting in the heat of the day, and
riding into late evening I rode for three days to the town of Polyana.
The last night was spent by a river with the moon casting a soft light
over the forest and Tigon snuggling close to my sleeping bag. I had
the impression that someone was trying to tell me to enjoy the moment,
as it would be the last quiet evening with my equine and canine family
for some time.
I had been very worried about finding a place to stay with the horses
on the border with Hungary, but in Polyana the answer came in the same
mysterious way as it has always done- as if I were joining a big
jigsaw puzzle from mongolia to Hungary and finally I had stumbled
across the next fitting piece.
Through contacts with the horse centre in Nikolaiv, I rang a man
called Igor Koftun who had at one stage been married to a Hungarian,
and had himself many times taken horses across the Hungarian/Ukrainian
border. Last Sunday Oksana -a young woman of my age and horse riding
student of Koftun's- turned up in her Niva four wheel drive and put my
worries to rest. She had a small horse stable in the mountains just
60km from Hungary, and had just recently helped ship the Hungarian
consulate's wife ship her horse across from Hungary! She said that I
had nothing to worry about and that I didn't have far to go!
Last Monday I did one last hard day of riding through the village of
Tyrya Polyana and up into cool forest not far from the alpine
pasture. Here Oksana has three horses, a huge pile of hay, greenery
all around, no insects to bite or worry the animals, and a huge fenced
in play yard for horses in the shade of beech and fir trees! Not only
was there a beautiful horse stable, but a newly built log house for
guests, a generator, and all of this only a short walk from a
waterfall and the refreshing alpine plains!
Until yesterday I remained up there with the animals, sorting through
plans, tending to the animals, writing, travelling to the high plans,
and honestly just coming to terms with everything. When watching the
horses eat calmly in the shade I couldn't help but recall the
oppressive heat of the Kazakhstan desert and how we had all toiled so
much and so far, and this leafy green haven on the Hungarian side of
the carpathians had been eternally out of reach. The workers at the
house who I stayed with could really not comprehend what this meant to
me, or what my horses had been through.
Tigon did get into a bit of trouble on Sunday though. Pasha, one of
the workers at the base broughht his big Slovakian Shepherd dog up
from the village and soon he and Tigon were in a scrap. Tigon came out
of the fight with a slight ripped right ear, so I hope it will heal in
time before the border crossing.
Yesterday I came out of the wilderness to Uszh Gorod on the border
with Slovakia and Hungary. This marks mopre than 70 days since I set
off from Kodima in April for this stage of the journey. Thismorning
Oksana and I had a meeting with the head of the local veterinary
customs department which was quite positive. Next week I will be
heading across the border to Hungary without my horses to sort out
logistics there with contacts. Then after taking blood samples to Kiev
and tending to other paper matters, I might even be crossing the Tis
river onto the Hungarian plains sooner than I think!
Anyway, fingers crossed. I am very grateful for Oksana's help, and her
boss, Roma who owns the lodge and stables in the forest.
Next update will hopefully bring good news.
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