Mishah had a ticketless ride from Moscow to Kyiv - zaytsem. Yes, this is possible, despite two border-crossings and all. You just pay the provodnik 2,000 rubles (that's something like $70, slightly less than what you pay for first class, SV) and you get an upper bunk in a tiny, two-bunk provodniki's compartment, with three beer-drinking, drunk assholes on the lower bunk, two men and a woman, also ticketless. One asshole ended up sleeping on the floor, on a huge toy rabbit that he had bought from those poor people at one of the stations, poor people who get paid in toys they produce instead of money. Oh, and you don't get a pillow.
"Tak dazhe moldovane uzhe ne yezdyat," said a border control woman with contempt ("Even Moldova folks [gastarbeiters] don't travel like this anymore.")
Mishah barely slept this night, provodnik - whose nickname is Pomidor (Tomato) - didn't sleep at all, his female partner - work partner, that is, provodnitsa - napped on what I first thought were a couple of chairs arranged outside their compartment, but Mishah said, "No, it's too difficult to explain the arrangement, I'll have to draw a scheme." In the morning, provodnitsa and Mishah discussed who had a worse night, he or she.
On Monday, Mishah is going back the same way, ticketless. There are no tickets because it's summer, weekend, holidays weekend in Russia, not enough trains, too many Moscow people coming over here, whatever. No cheap tickets, no expensive tickets. Trying to get tickets a week in advance is too late. An extra train they've introduced for the summer doesn't work for us because of its departure and arrival times.
Today, we hope to accomplish the move to Pushcha Vodytsya. I panic inside because even though it's 30 km from where I am now (not in Russia, Don), it's a totally different world - which seems rather underdeveloped. But the air's real good. We'll see, I keep telling myself.