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September 14, 2002

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Over a bad night's sleep wondering if we could leave Transdniestr without landing in jail, we woke and walked to the train station under a dark early morning sky. Police packed the station. With nervous stomachs we walked to the ticket counter. "Dva billieta, Odesa," we said and spent our last rubles. Then we boarded a rickety train for the four hour ride. The border turned out to be anticlimactic. Transdniestr or Moldova didn't maintain any border exit formalities; we didn't see a guard. On the Ukrainian side we gave our passports to a young looking guard who turned out to be a trainee. She nicely stamped our passports for us without a fuss. When two senior officials arrived - and yes, they looked like trouble - we already had our passports stamped so we couldn't be pressed. Instead, these officials pulled two other people off the train, which caused a lot of crying because an entire family had to get off with them. They didn't re-board. The train continued to Odesa where we will spend the next two days.
The highest mountain in Moldova is 430 meter Mount Balanesti. This train couldn't make it over an anthill but it carried us over the Moldova-Ukraine border without a hitch.
The lavish Pasazh, a shopping mall in Odesa where the shop fronts look so much better than the merchandise.
Odesa is full of baroque buildings.
Old men wear their medals as status symbols.
Puppy dog puts out a tin for tips or biscuits.