The Road

A Little Scary Siberian Night Ride

“If there would be a dead human body back in the trunk, would that be a problem for you?” Somehow no one asked us that question before. The night was freezing, around us only wild forest inhabited by siberian tigers and brown bears. Looking into the darkness through the van window, we decided that we’re comfy inside, even if we’re accompanied by a surprise motionless passenger somewhere in the back…

Many drivers slowed down or even stopped the car but they had no intention of taking us, just came to observe foreigners. It was the beginning of September and though we finally escaped the already snowed forests of Yakutia (some 800km towards north) we were still shaking from the cold. The side glass of the car was lowered, behind it appeared two young faces, a couple looked at us. Men asked what we’re doing out here, when he was speaking, we could see his breath in the form of vapor. We gave him our standard response and learned something in exchange. They were no Yakuts, but Evenks, Tungusic people, the village nearby (Iyengra) was full of them. Going through it, we could see a lot of ruined buildings, poverty and men wrecked by alcoholism.

It was starting to get dark and we wondered what will happen to us in this remote place. Suddenly the van with full speed passed us and then screeched to a halt. Inside we were greeted by quite an interesting trio – skinny driver with permanently wide opened eyes, a big guy with a huge round stomach and a small Evenki lady holding a dog on her lap. The big guy was pretty drunk and still drinking, beer was occasionally dripping on his bushy beard which every time amused the lady. Nevertheless, they were all the kindest people and in the (very messy) van it was very warm. During out attempts to understand each other, beer was served to us to make it easier. We were going through the dark night on an empty siberian road and listening to their stories. The climate was somehow weird, there was a lot of laughter, we could feel a kind of anxiety emanating  from them.

We asked  for their final destination in hopes it’s the city we want to get to. “Oh no, we will stop before Tynda, in the forest”, after a moment of silence he added “we will dig in the ground”. Trying not to overthink it, Marek asked “digging for gold?”. They laughed and tried to explain something about having one little job to do. Then we were asked to help them with the digging, a tempting offer, to which we passed. “Before you turn into forest, we will be very thankful if you’ll leave us at the road cafe”. They agreed.

“If there would be a dead human body back in the trunk, would that be a problem for you?” Quite an unexpected question. Van started to shake like crazy on the deep holes in the road. Small dog about which existence we totally forgot started to bark.Thanks to dim interior light we could see the back of the car, there were shovels and kind of big rugs or rolled carpet. Once our brains 7 started to make something more of that image, the curves under the material started to be visible, van started to shake again, making it all blurry. Marek replied with a broken voice and broken russian: “nah, for now it doesn’t smell yet, so no problem”. The driver exploded with laughter and once he explained it to the passengers in the back they did too. Big drunk man had tears in his eyes and spilled the rest of the beer on his trousers not minding it at all.. 

Van stopped at the cafe, we jumped out and never again looked back into the trunk. Then we thanked them, went to the road to make some last late night attempts at hitchhiking. Van stood there, lit by a christmas lights. They were observing us and after some time off they went into the darkness. We looked at each other in silence and shook our heads. Both of us needed some time to think about what just happened.

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