The road of bones

It’s been almost two weeks since I had started my trip in the North.

My trip started in Never, where the Lena Road and the Amur Highway join. Go to the map, find Chita in the main line, go east until you find a road (the only one) going north. There you go, 3000 km to reach Magadan, in the Okhotsk sea.

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The Lena Highway was expected to be in terrible conditions but I was quite disappointed to find that great parts of it are now built in asphalt. The taiga, birch forest, is endless. Like thin needless pointing to the sky, the hair of the Mother Nature that has chosen this place to rest for the summer.

This is a land of extremes, +35° C in Summer to the record of -72° C in winter. Can you imagine that cold? I can’t. Anyway it’s dry climate so it hurts less, but I wouldn’t like to find myself in a winter night without a place to sleep.

While riding across the impossibly long distances saw two bears: big, powerful and amazing creatures that are a common sight here. Fortunately I was not chased by one of them, they are known for having a taste on foreigners’ flesh.

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Across abandoned villages I arrived to Yakustk, the coldest city in the world. The architecture is not something to remark, aesthetically is a bland city. But they have the best conservated Mammoth of the world, with fur and even food in it’s stomach something worth to see.

The city is a half island since the only possible way to reach it from the “mainland” is with the Lena Highway, and approaching the city from the east (with the mentioned road) you need to cross the mighty Lena River, one and a half hours to cross the waters..

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I am also happy to announce that I reached the budget record: in June my total expenses were $38 (USD), in July some $40.5 (usd), i regret that I went to the supermarket in the last day of July.

After crossing back the river from Yakustk I was in my way to the east. Kolyma, the infamous road. Home of the Gulags, the Soviet detention camps in the stalinist period. Human brutality, hunger, scurvy and cold killed around three million people here..

The interesting thing is that between the two types of convicts: simple criminals and the intellectuals (who said more than the recommended) the earlier had the role to supervise the later, being accustomed to the violence the criminals were efficient commanding the often less reckless writers, journalists and so on. You should read this book, that more than any other tells about what happened here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/109812.Kolyma_Tales

There was a wonderful passage that said something like: “once we beat down the road in the snow we came back to the barracks, it was the turn of the horses that were ridden by readers, not writers or poets”. Download: https://www.pdf-archive.com/2015/03/07/kolyma-tales-shalanov-varlan/

It was a long cruzade in the Kolyma, two thousand kilometers of gravel road. Russia, in any sense of the word, has no end, is the place where the land doesn’t knows about boundaries. I enjoyed this time here, mostly thanks to my russian that now is enough to get almost everything and even to make some jokes! Happy for that, I feel that my only and real achievement are the words that now float in my memory, ready to be a bridge between me and whoever is in the other side. But you know that a bridge can’t stand only in one side. 

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It was a long road, sometimes without anything else to look at that the infinite green. Right now clouds are hanging within the trees and hills, a grey morning, I can listen the obscure sorrows that once where whispered amongst the trees, the silent witnesses of the brutality and the hope, the hope for life.

Past abandoned villages, destroyed buildings and hopeful people I found the way to Magadan. Arrived to the city on Sunday, was a foggy and strange night. Walked the center amazed by the mist around me, the visibility was reduced to fifty meters, so long I had been thinking about Magadan and now I was there, roaming it’s gloomy streets. The city itself it’s not as bland as Yakustk, has a charm touch in it. We will see what’s waiting for us.

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Challenge has just started, so what now? With a map you could see that there’s nowhere else to go, only in winter the rivers get frozen and the drivers go madly over the former water.. So? I want to reach Kamchatka. It seems that it’s quite close to the impossible to find a boat, will try but as I have read it is not realistic. So the only option is to take a flight there.

I have only been in one plane to cross the Atlantic. Take another one and “cut” the road? Pay 50$ (month budget) for it? Doesn’t sound possible. Will try in the port and if not two more possible ways: hitchhike a plane, that means to walk to the agencies and offer a website I’m exchange of the ticket or to find a boat to Vladivostok or Sakhalin (remember that I am going to Japan after).

We will see, you should notice that the line of adventure traveler and freeloader is quite thin and I am afraid of that. Don’t know if I am already the later tough. If that options are not viable I have to hitchhike 4000km back, counterclockwise.. Something I really don’t want to do.