Rava-Rus'ka Travel Blog› entry 6 of 11 › view all entries
Crossing the border between Poland and Ukraine was quite an experience. You're funneled into lines, and are slowly "processed" by a surprisingly large number of border police who inspect your papers, your car, your car's papers and you... First there were two stops to get out of Poland and it wasn't too slow, but once we got into Ukraine things got a little more complicated. The first police officer asked us a lot of questions - in Ukrainian - and when we didn't understand, they just talked louder and louder... As if shouting enables language acquisition... :-) Fortunately some words are similar to Polish so we got through that part. Ana got pretty stressed out by the whole situation - was convinced that my US passport was the root of all the troubles! A "high-risk passport" she calls it! ;-) Finally we figured out what they wanted - vehicle documents - and were sent to the next stop where they looked inside the car.
In all there were 5 separate places on the Ukrainian side where we had to stop - but unfortunately we missed one of them, so when we reached the final station, we were missing a stamp on one of the little pieces of paper we were given by one of the previous officers. Of course, we didn't understand what was going on, and thought we could go. So, we started to drive away... I thought that the policeman was going to have a stroke by then... We were supposed to go back and we went forward (albeit only about 10 ft!). He was pretty good at mime though - kind of like Marcel Marceau - and was able to use body language to show us that we had transgressed, had blown it, must go back to stop 4 to get the missing stamp (about 50 meters in reverse) and then we'd see what we'd do! I finally got out of the car and walked to that station, got the stamp and then we headed back to our police guy! In the meanwhile two other cars did the same thing - lots of cars reversing through the area with extremely frustrated drivers at the wheel (we'd been there for over three hours!!) I was seriously considering buying Ana some vodka and some tranquilizers.
We drove on for about 500 feet and then a uniformed man stepped out into the middle of the road and flagged us down. Our mutual language skills were zero, but a kindly Polish driver came to our rescue. This time it was about insurance papers... We ahd to get out of the car and walk over to some little wooden huts where they were selling insurance. Turns out we have adequate coverage for this - also turns out that the uniformed guy is just out there trying to drum up business.