Fri 22 Apr 2011 17:13
46:30N 30:45E
Good Friday, April 22nd 2011
Things have improved a little bit.  We have moved out of the rent-by-the-hour apartment, into one which is actually really nice.  We have learned that the way to save a bit of money in Ukraine is to forget hotels, and hire an apartment.  This one is brand new, with a lovely kitchen & bed sitting room, nice bathroom, and opens on to a sunny courtyard with horse chestnut trees that have started to look a little bit green over the last 2 days with the sunshine.
We have continued to meet really friendly, helpful people â notably a guy who gave us a lift in his car to the courthouse with all our carrier bags, and acted as interpreter with our lawyer who speaks not a word of English.  He was a very good friend at the time.  But the outcome hasnât been great, because we have to go back to the court on 4/5 to pay our fine, then start the administrative process of getting our car back, so we reckon on another week in after 4th May, at least, before we leave Ukraine.
We are in a slightly less desolate mood, and thinking about trying to resurrect the trip.  We donât want to go to Russia.  So that means taking a more southerly route through Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, then crossing the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, then continuing.  A lot of new visas and letters of invitation to get, but we have started to send some emails and see if itâs feasible.
Meanwhile we will explore Odessa.  This picture is the courtyard where we are staying, itâs really pretty. Thereâs a colony of cats who live in the garden & they have food bowls & some kennels. As I was painting it, loads of folks walked by, old & young, and NOBODY spoke to me.  I know from experience that if you sit down & paint at home, you get an audience, & kids wanting to have a go, & lots of people smiling at you & saying hello.  But I also know that Ukranian people are lovely and helpful and warm.  So all that I can conclude is that itâs a bit rude to talk to people you donât know.  I am all the time grinning at people & trying to say good morning â they probably find us ridiculous, or pushy!! I just feel lonely!!
Back on the Chernobyl subject, Richard sent some interesting stuff, here it is:

The steel shield, which is being funded by governments around the world, is
designed to protect the world from radiation leaks for the next hundred
years (the original concrete is beginning to crack). It will be constructed
offsite in two halves and moved to the site on rails. There are still farms
in Wales operating under restrictions put in place when the reactor failed

(Thanks Richard)
Bye for now, Stef

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