Cycling through the Radioactive area of Chernobyl and ghost towns
I start cycling from Minsk and I go south to Ukraine, I pass nearby Chernobyl: Naroulia–one of the most radio-contaminated city of the world–, the Radioecological reserve Polesky and the nuclear ghost town of Poliske (Ukraine), which is between two military checkpoints.
Many dangers on the way, but the radioactivity pollution is not the biggest.
The Belarusian army, police, wild animals, falling apart bridges, injuries and even lack of drinkable water was what made the cycling challenging.
It’s like an authoritarian father, not allowing his children to do anything he does not like them to do.
I feel it from his army and police, so close minded and standardized.
THE HIERARCHIC WRONG FAIRYTALE OF CINDERELLA
Belarus make me think of fairytales.
Children’s stories that can make kids adults heroes, or just robots, depending on the content of the narration.
Let’s take Cinderella as example, an apparent nice story.
But there is a manipulative teaching: kids learning that a prince or a king is more important than a common person.
Cinderella wants to get out of her poverty through marrying a prince. This is not just sexisst but higly hierarchic and non meritocratic.
If there would be no prince there would be no poor ladies like Cinderella.
GETTING INTO TROUBLES WITH BELARUSIAN ARMY
To take a shortcut, I go through the forest, crossing a falling apart bridge I see a strange field in front of me: it’s not forest, neither cultivated, on the map is shown just as a gray area. I go into it to cross it.
I see big holes on the ground and I have a strange feeling.
All the patterns marked on the map don’t match the real path and I am stuck in this place. I decide to camp there for the night, feeling a bit worried.
During the night I hear trucks passing, I look more carefully out of the tend and I spot a destroyed war tank far from me.
I start thinking I may be somewhere where I should not be!
In the morning I am awaken by a big military truck passing, a soldier with three stars on is jackets comes out of it, telling me, ‘almost friendly’, that I am in a military exercitation camp, where they are shooting with fantery and heavy weapons. He tells me to leave asap.
I thank him and I leave, I think that he was quite kind to have just told me to leave without even asking who I am.
After two kilometers there is a checkpoint, with soldiers and the man I spoke previously was there waiting for me, he politely tells me that I have to be interrogated.
I am ready for interrogation and I am quite happy to be alive, not aware that the interrogation will lasts seven hours and I am asked about EVERYTHING.
They check all my stuff, included my private pictures on my phone, emails, facebook and all you can find on my google account.
The find some naked pictures of me, where I promote Cyclonudista, and tell me that pornography is illegal in Belarus, I tell them that that’s just my body as I was born.
At the end I am told that a truck will come to pick me up and bring me “on the right way…”.
After another half hour a truck comes, I am helped to get inside of it with my bicycle, there are soldiers with weapons in it.
I am not able to see outside, it’s dark and I am about to vomit for the shaking and the dust.
I can now understand a little what animals in cages feel when they are transported from one place to another, I understand why many of them die on the way. I almost wished to die myself on that truck.
I am worried and paranoid, I think that they would harm or even kill me. They seem too kind to be true.
The truck stops, the same people who inspected me open the door from outside and I am free, for real.
Never felt better in my life.
DOGS AND WILD ANIMALS ON THE WAY
In the tent I clearly hear wolves, I am ready with pepper spray and a metal stick–a detached handlebar–to fight, but luckily they don’t come too near.
Dogs are barking to the wolves all night long. What to know what I think about dogs?
Dogs are the most evident example of human insatisfaction.
I see a farm in front of me, I see people kicking and pulling cows as they are pieces of
EVEN IMPORTANT THINGS ARE EASY TO FORGET
When we change from different situations we can forget really fast, and deeply. We may easily forget all the struggle we were in before, if we are suddenly in a more comfortable situation.
The ones of us with memory for the sad past, the ones that remember also the bad times of others around, the persons that have this sensibility, those are our heroes, those are the ones to whom we have to be grateful.
YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND
When you have a home, you can’t understand homelessness.
When you have a full belly, you can’t understand the hungry one.
When you are healthy, you can understand pain.
I also don’t understand how I am able to cycle: just one week before starting, I do a wrong movement and my back gets blocked, people need to pull me up and lift me for about three days in order to let me move.
My right eye has some loss of sharpness; while cycling I fall down, I hurt my hand and I am not able to use it for all the rest of the trip… But this didn’t stop me.
USSR AND COMMUNISM – UKRAINE OPEN TO EU
Kiev is much different than Minsk or Riga, which both give me USSR, anti western, pro-Putin feeling.
I was more keen to like the Soviet Union before my trips to the Baltics, Belarus and Ukraine.
After the seeing huge economic and social differences even in Belarus, which is the only country in the world that continues on the USSR regime, I am not sure I like this kind of communism. I would not even call it communism, but dictatorship.
I have noticed that freedom of speech is unknown in Belarus, the country is ruled by police with little-no personal liberty.
I would say that among ex-USSR countries, Ukraine is the most open and EU-oriented country, even if there is a long way to go.
While Latvia was the most unfriendly country for western people.
I mostly travel alone because I am often disappointed by travel companions. Some of them pretend to be lovers, but are much better than expected as traveling companionship, much worse than expected as lover.
WAR IN UKRAINE
What’s the difference between a detainee and a soldier?
The only difference is that the soldier can let out his hunger and frustration freely on other people.
EUROPEANS SHOULD LEARN FROM UKRAINIANS
In Ukraine people is not smiling all the times, sometimes they give you the impression of unhappiness. Except this, I have experienced great manners, honesty and really friendly attitude.
Things work well here, public services are smooth and internet is really fast and cheap.
The subway in Kiev works extremely efficiently, it’s clean and everyone is perfectly well educated to stand up from their seats for an older person. The same in the tram, trolley bus and minibus.
Walking at night, even in really dark areas, is totally safe. Nobody bothers you even if is clear that you are a foreigner.
Police and army people are friendly. They are working hard and will not bother you, in south europe (especially in Italy) this is not the case.
I never felt unsafe or threatened here , to be sincere I felt much better that in many European capitals.