The names of the individuals and places I have written about have been changed to protect their privacy
Rumbling through the early morning darkness in a vintage large Soviet era style military truck on the way to pick up 27 beehives before sunrise was a once in a lifetime experience for any red blooded American living in Ukraine.
The trip to round up bees was planned a month and a half earlier on the 4th of July when my wife and I were returning home from the Carpathians we stopped to meet the parents of one of my students for the first time.
It was 4 in the morning when I started to get ready for the Great Western Ukrainian Bee Roundup. I had often helped my father and brothers to round up the cattle on my parent’s ranch to be branded and vaccinated. It was an annual ritual and a chance for me to be a real live cowboy, as a boy.
My wife was sound asleep and was oblivious to my stirring. I got dressed and went outside to wait for the foreman of Bee Roundup, Olena’s father to return to give the orders to move out.
The weather was quite comfortable early in the morning as I waited outside in the quiet of the morning. My tranquility was soon broken when a couple of strangers entered the yard and started to ask me questions. In my best Russian I attempted to tell them that Olena’s father went to make arrangements for a truck. To my surprised a few questions later I heard a familiar language, “Do you speak English?” I love it when that happens! Life is so good! I now had someone to talk with who spoke a little English.
We are finally assembled and the order was given to move out. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the truck we were taking. It was huge and looked old. With a little help, I climbed into the cab and I mean it was a climb to get in. I sat in the middle of the big flat bed truck’s cab with sideboards as diesel fumes and smoke belching everywhere as we lumbered down the road tossing my body to and fro as my other two companions were smiling at my first experience riding in an old Soviet military truck and asked me if I was okay. I answered, “Horasho!” (Fine)
The truck sure wasn’t build for comfort or speed. After we left the pavement we travel at an even slower pace because the road was quite narrow with trees on both sides. There wasn’t a lot or room because the size of the truck and the poor condition of the dirt road. Nonetheless, the truck lumbered along like a well oiled machine going into battle. The other 5 members of our party followed in an old small Lada.
Story to be continued