Gap on the Map

We are on the border and the sign welcomes us in all fifteen languages of former republics of Soviet Union. Sometimes I go for rides here in Belorussia. The roads are better and gasoline is cheaper. This country is in good relationship with Russia and isolated from the rest of the world. For many years Belorussia lived under authoritarian regime of their president Lukashenko. He is like Fidel Castro, the perpetual president, just has no beard.


On newer maps, LAND OF THE WOLVES appears like a big gap. Deserted towns and villages, as well as the roads, have all been erased.

Authorities do not want some weekend driver to appear on roads which may not be environmentally safe.

The borderline is wide. The land is not worth fighting over. If we leave the main road and travel along the borderline, we'll pass through dead villages and never know in which country they reside.


Road sign shows the distance to some village. Chances of meeting someone to ask the name of a village are very slim.

Even if you see someone in Chernobyl, the custom is to walk away without a word, and the other party does the same. This is because it is illegal just to be here. There are many unofficial types of visitors to Chernobyl: everything from marauders to thrill-seekers; from scientists searching for mutations to photographers or explorers whom we call "stalkers." No matter who they are, they travel here without permission, and they are not looking forward to meeting the police. Walking or driving away from each other is a message that you are not the police, and that you intend to mind your own business. Everyone knows that in lawless territory HOMO HOMINI LUPUS EST. "Man, to man, is a wolf." So walking away from others is like a common courtesy. Here it is the best humans can do for their brethren.


This is the nestling box, but no birds invite us with their singing. Starlings flew away a long time ago.


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