Thursday, December 24, 2009

The sounds of a pilgrimage

The events of some days put the Raiders of the Lost Arc theme firmly in my head as I gain those last few kilometers. I had quite a succession of these since approaching Crimea. First, there was the edge of the blizzard I outran; then, the two days of fierce ice storms encrusting me thickly with crystal clear mobility-constricting ice. I persisted southward unashamed to accept 25 km of progress from Vladimir, the giant snow plow operator. I controlled the sander lever as we spoke in the German he learned during his long-ago military deployment to Dresden.

Two more windy days of heavy rain leaving me looking like something the cat dragged out from uner the river bank as I arrived in villages of locked, priestless churches. One night, I slept soundly in a school corridor protected by two elderly nightwatchmen, snoring loudly at the other end of the hall, and one night in a former school dormitory that's been condemned but occupied by a few kind squatters who've tapped into a power feed and waterline, though with the amount of macrobiotics floating in the water, I suspect maybe they've rigged a cistern on the roof. Still, I managed my treasured bucket of hot water from an electric tea kettle.

Now let the soundtrack crescendo... a gallbladder attack! Most inopportune. Not as intense as when it happened on the Camino to Santiago last winter, but equally unpleasant, especially with the headwind. At least the rain had stopped. Leaving a thin trail of bile, I prudently diverted my rural trek toward a town of a few hundred inhabitants and a church. Locked and priestless...rats... but those shop-ladies came through for me. They took care, called the emergency services, such as they are, then when the ambulence failed to show up, the ladies found some guy with a car and I was driven back to the town where I started the day to a small hospital outpost. Quite an experience. A few injections, an IV drip, & a nice night's sleep - finish the music now - all is put to rights.

I've picked up my pilgrim trail again - the sun's come out, temperature's rising, the wind's died down. The landscape into the famed southern mountains of Crimea is spectacular: gorgeous hardwood forests, harmonious Christian and Muslim villages, peaceful atmosphere, and, most soothing on the refreshed eye, valleys full of vineyards =) Ahhhh... opening bars of Grieg's Pyre Gynt come to mind. This is nice pilgriming again.


Sylvia said...

Ann your writing skills are improving every inch of the way! Love the details!

So glad you were able to get to the licarnia.

Anonymous said... are a champ and all those who came to rescue happy for you...