**Eating while being eaten by vampires**
By the time I wanted to see Black Sea. I got the information that north-west of Odessa, half-way between it and Tiraspol there should be an abandoned nuclear power plant near Teplodar. Of course I had to check this info out.
It was also time to leave the ghost republic of Transnistria. Of course I can’t deny that the country is a bit strange. But after having visited the other break-away republics, driven through Ukraine and Moldova it was just a normal piece of land in the eastern part of Europe.
I admit I haven’t been to a country where money made out of plastic is a mean instrument of payment. But the flats I was able to see due to Couchsurfing and the architecture is just like in Russian towns and for a westerner perhaps a little bit like in Soviet times. But honestly, the appearance doesn’t differ much from Russia and other ex-USSR countries now-a-days. It’s not really obvious that e.g. this building
doesn’t belong to Ukraine or Moldova but just to Transnistria. Moreover I had the impression that young people were not as shy as in Ukraine to talk English. Several times I was surprised by cashiers in the supermarket by talking in English after I stammered with my Russian. In Ukraine it happened, if, rarely.
However I didn’t want to ride the usual road to Odessa via Kuchurgan but planned crossing the border more south at Dnestrovsc. After having arrived there I was told that this border crossing is closed for international traffic – but it’s only and “interstate border crossing” for Moldovan and Ukrainian citizens. That’s why I could happily drive back – but it was only a detour of 25km and just 30°C.
At the border crossing in Kuchurgan I was asked by the officer where I would spend the nights. For me a tricky question since I always think they want to hear “Hotel” or “Hostel” as an answer. But not that guy: I pointed at my tent and he replied: “Na ulitse? Duzhu dobro.” (Outside? Very good.) – perfect. I didn’t get an exit stamp of Moldova since Transnistria is not controlled by Moldovans. So I had a Moldovan entry stamp and an Ukrainian one.
In the evening I reached Teplodar and gladly did shopping in the fully stocked and, for me, cheap supermarket. I wanted to spend the night near a lake but was advised by people there not to do so. Instead I slept in the garden of one of them.
By the way, Teplodar was built only for the purpose of housing the workers of the nuclear power plant. But the catastrophe of Chernobyl stopped its construction – like the one in Shcholkovo on Crimea. Today Teplodar is not a ghost town; most of its 9000 inhabitants daily commute to Odessa for work.
The next day I went to the area of the abandoned power plant. In opposite to Shcholkovo a building looking like a power plant is not really visible. There are a few towers and buildings in which some companies are doing some work. Also there’s an isolated railway with a locomotive. I strolled around a bit and drove back to very high and dense grassland because I didn’t find the road. Of course after some time I managed to get back on the shimmering asphalt and with a little detour in direction to Odessa. I didn’t want to stay in the town now but rather spend some days somewhere else at the Black Sea coast. I decided to take the road to the East which was kind of narrow and had heavy traffic. After some asking I knew that camping at any beach would be okay but I decided against it because there were just too many people and I didn’t consider my things secure. Fortunately I found a dacha settlement just after Chornomorske with a kind of security and I was allowed to pitch my tent there “as long as I wanted”.
Tuesday to Friday I spent there, went swimming, read a lot or played football with some children. My place was covered by some trees so it was relatively cold. But in the evening the coast was attacked by flying blood-sucking monsters. Like Rumplestiltskin every evening I jumped around, while trying to prepare my dinner – pasta with Ikra-sauce – hoping to somehow not getting bothered by them. But there were too many and their voracious suction needles even found their way through my clothes.
**By the way the building showed above in the text cannot be found in Transnistria. It actually stands in Ukraine.**