Every day the Kremlin spends over 20 billion rubles on the “special operation”. At the same time, many regions within the russian federation live as if the 21st century is still far away. To see this, just turn off the main road. However, only a handful of thrill-seekers dare to explore “real russia”. This is a journey to another dimension indeed.
For example, one such thrill-seeker told how two families travelled from Moscow to Magadan in two off-road vehicles.
The entire journey took two and a half months. They ate mushrooms, berries, wild garlic, fish, hazel grouse, hares, swan eggs, red caviar – in other words, everything they managed to collect, catch or shoot. They took diesel fuel from the military, at machine and tractor stations and from locomotive drivers: “You look on the map where the railway is. You go there and wait. We never waited more than a day.”
“You raise your hand with a glass, that is how you stop the locomotive. For a glass of alcohol, the driver will fill all your containers with diesel fuel. There are no gas stations whatsoever. There are no roads here in a European sense of the word either.”
“One can drive one and a half thousand kilometers along country roads and riverbeds and all this territory will be void of any houses…”
The travelers bought almost nothing on this trip, the only thing available is exchange: “For our journey, we took some old clothes, alcohol, penknives, sugar and exchanged them for what we needed.”
“Once I gave a guy five hundred rubles and he gave the money back to me: “No, we don’t need your money. What do you have that is useful? Sugar? Matches?” Like the Papuans, you can exchange a bag of pine nuts for a penknife or an old jacket…”
Of course, sometimes locals go out into the world. For example, one elderly woman travels 800 kilometers every two years to receive her pension. She knows when a timber truck is coming, takes a seat next to the driver and goes to the fork. The next day, she changes to a cheap Chinese car and goes to the village, where she receives money and waits for the opportunity to travel back. The whole journey to collect her pension takes her a month.”
The travelers have reached the places where people wear what they got from the “mainland” by chance: “For example, a man wears his army pea coat or overalls – I have no idea what to call it – with a radiation hazard sign on his back. His shoes are quite spectacular as well! Instead of soles, they have a car tire. Well, knives and other metal objects are forged, they have a blacksmith. Thank God, we have this metal lying around in the north…”
They wash themselves in a bath using ashes and celandine. What is the most surprising is that they burn kerosene on holidays, and on ordinary days they light houses with wood and oil or a torch. The thrill-seeker even traded a light holder – “a special thing where a torch is fixed” – for his old jacket: “They gave me not only a light holder, but also a bowl to put under it, where water is poured so that coals and ashes fall into it. In addition, they taught me to use it”.
“A simple birch torch is not inserted into the light holder right away because it will burn unevenly, will start to smoke, and it will burn out almost immediately. Therefore, torches are first fired in the oven – they rake the coals and put torches on a hot hearth so that they are ignited and turn brown. After that torches burn well.”
However, the traveler says that he was not surprised too much by the torches: “You don’t need to travel so far to see torches – we use them in Karelia, one and a half thousand kilometers from Moscow. There is no electricity in the middle of nowhere, so people do not know what a TV set or a refrigerator is. They saw a sausage for the first time when I showed it to them…”
Indeed, the 21st century has not yet come to most areas of the russian federation. And some things never change. For example, the Kremlin’s desire to use all resources available to seize more and more new territories, lowering living conditions there to the “russian standard”.