January 22nd, 2017
Fear and Loathing in Transnistria
Posted September 13th, 2012 at 11:43 AM
The past month has been the craziest one yet (edit - I started writing this in July, not knowing that August would be about ten times crazier) We spent almost a month in the Ukraine, hitting it hard, traveling to Lviv, Odessa, Kiev, Yalta, Sudak, Sevastapol, then Odessa again, visiting the major attractions during the day, going out every single night, meeting girls, and in between driving hundreds of Kilometers. At times we'd arrive to a new destination late at night, park outside of a club, went out to party, then crashed in the van for a short 3-4 hour sleep before hitting the road again. Insane.
Finally, we woke up pretty late in Odessa, after a crazy night at the super club, Arcadia, and it was time to leave. We had two options: to drive straight to Romania, or go to Moldova first, through Tiraspol.
We'd already gotten used to the Ukraine, which isn't an easy place. We've been stopped by the police several times and Aaron was almost arrested for drinking in public. The policemen questioned him, then made him empty his pockets taking everything he had on him - almost $200. We've also seen the police beat up a guy, and then even his girlfriend, who came to his rescue. Street fights... It was hard knowing which girl was a working girl and which wasn't. It felt like everything in that country was about money, showing off, status, power... dog eat dog. To be honest - this isn't really our stye, and now we were considering going to Tiraspol, which could be even worse.
Tiraspol, in case you never heard of it, is the second largest city in Moldova, and is the capital of the unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic AKA Transnistria. If you've read "The Game" you might remember how Style and Mystery almost got arrested while traveling in East Europe for refusing to bribe a police officer. Style describes Mystery's mental breakdown and how at some point he told the officer that he can "throw him in jail" if he liked to. Later they were told by a local that they shouldn't have done that as Transnestria doesn't have jails. When they asked that person where they keep prisoners - the guy mimed a gunshot to the head.
So which way would it be - Romania or Transnistria? Back to the West, or deeper into the heart of darkness?
But why do we need to put ourselves at risk? What if the stories are true and we get into some kind of trouble? The discussion went on for at least an hour... I looked online for a hotel in Tiraspol and called them. They had available rooms, the girl spoke perfect English and was very friendly. It's time to make a decision.
Fuck it. We're young, driving a Van of Victory, looking for adventures, weren't we? We're doing this.
On paper the drive should take less than two hours, but a crazy border crossing turned the ride to a half day nightmare. At the border, on the Ukrainian side, an EU official from Holland was there on some observation mission. He asked us why we were crossing into Transnistria and when we told him that we're just driving around looking for adventures he thought that we were mad. He warned us to be careful.
We arrived in Tiraspol so tired that we had mixed up the days, arriving on a Wednesday, thinking it was a Tuesday.
Neil didn't exaggerate by much. Transnestria is run by a Mafia like company, hilariously named "Sheriff", which was formed in the early 1990s by former members of the Soviet secret service, the infamous KGB. People claim that the company is actually run by Igor Smirnov, the president of Transnistria and is used as a front to launder money.
The locals we spoke with confirmed these crazy stories. I was told by a local girl that until a few years ago, if Sheriff wanted to purchase a successful local business but the owner refused - they would simply shoot him in the head.
And now... we were in Tirsapol. Awesome. One thing is certain - we were not going to leave the place without capturing a local flag.
We stayed in Transnestria for three days and went out each night to the same club, the one located in Hotel Russia (I believe it was called Club Villiya). We tried finding somewhere else to go out to but it appeared that Villiya was really the only good option. The first night we didn't really know what to expect. We were staying in a different hotel (City Club Hotel) and decided to take a taxi to the club, despite the short distance (Transnestria is dirt cheap, the cab was less than a buck).
We walked into the hotel and straight into the club. As it was a Wednesday we didn't know what to expect exactly but to our delight the place was packed. Packed with girls. Hot girls. Only girls!
The music was blasting at unreasonable levels and we could hardly hear our own thoughts. We sat at the bar and ordered drinks. There were one or two private parties going on and the girl to guy ratio was seriously sick, about 7 or 8 girls per guy. The place is relatively small, it has a bar in the center with a narrow "dance floor" surrounding it and tables all around. Not a lot of space to operate, but it had to do. The place had a certain "vibe" to it, a "small village" mentality in which everybody knows everybody. I could feel that all the local girls were checking us out but they were also a little hesitant. Transnestria sees very little tourists and the girls assume that the foreigners who do arrive have just one thing on their mind.... and of course, they are right.
So while Aaron was sipping his beer I was dancing by myself surrounded by girls. I started dancing with one of them who seemed to like my attention but I could also feel how her entire group was watching our every move. The "small village mentality" dictates that everybody is watching everybody at all times. As a girl, one makeout and the entire village labels you as a slut... I ejected. Now what?
I walked to the other side of the bar and noticed a single girl standing by herself, waiting for her two other friends with shots of Vodka in hand. For some reason the first thought I had was "out of my league" but I went in anyway. I'm not sure why I thought this to myself as I don't believe that any girl is out of my league, but there was something about this girl, some indescribable quality, that made me a little hesitant.
I went in and we hit it off instantly. As an English and German student, communication wasn't a problem. We spoke for a few minutes, but as the night was young, I decided to leave on a high note so I could later return, part "take away" part a real desire to check out the other goods. About half an hour later I returned and we continued chatting. She was a little standoffish and just like the other girls was suspicious of my intentions. So I decided to take a high risk move:
- "You're cute... too bad that you're a little ugly".
The girl, who was absolutely good looking and awesome in every way, turned completely red and started screaming at me:
"DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M FAMOUS IN THIS PLACE, EVERYBODY KNOWS ME, I'M THE LEADER OF MY FRIENDS. ALL THE GUYS HERE WANT ME. AND YOU CALL ME UGLY?!?!"
Wow. I made a major mistake. I forgot that they didn't grow up on Seinfeld in this part of the world.
She then turned away. I found this whole incident hilarious and her reaction strange. I left but returned about fifteen minutes later. Just when I returned the girl was shooting a video of her friend dancing. I inched closer, checking her reaction and she then told me that I should be dancing with her friend. I started dancing with the friend and within about a minute the girl I insulted changed places with her and we started dancing together, while the friend is still shooting the video. I later received the video and I wish I could post it here because it's freaking awesome. (I'm putting it on for one week and will then remove it)
It turned out that the girl is a serious dancer and dance teacher at a local school. She herself started dancing when she was seven years old, so we really hit it off. Although I never studied dancing and only had a few weeks of Salsa classes in the winter I consider myself a good dancer. Almost every night when I go out clubbing girls comment on my dancing and ask me where I learned it, and it is often girls, who are themselves very good dancers, that are attracted to me the most, for that reason. Not many guys can dance and when good dancers spot a guy who can actually move - they jump the opportunity. This girl was no different.
As soon as we started dancing the sexual tension between us shot through the roof. Our previous flirtation along with my "insult" was now compounded by the dance-off. As we danced the world around us, along with everyone in it, seemed to disappear. At some point I picked her up and took her to the other side of the club, away from her friends.
I kept holding her for a few more seconds and then put her down. I then pulled her out of the club to the hotel's lobby and then outside. We spoke for a few minutes and exchanged details. We agreed to speak the next day and arrange a day meeting in the local pizza joint. But I did not follow up with the date and instead contacted her in the evening to arrange a meeting in the club again, for that same night.
It turned out that she would be going to Chisinau the following day for an exam and so she couldn't go out that night. Curiously she told me that I should "be a good boy" because if I'd dance with some other girl that night she would find out about it. This seemed ridiculous on so many levels and I had no plans on being a good boy but whatever. We greed to meet the following night.
And so me and Aaron went out to the same club again for our 2nd evening in town. The place was less crowded than the previous night and there wasn't much going on. At some point Aaron started chatting with a really hot chick who wanted to continue the conversation outside, but only if her friend would come with her. And so Aaron, the good wing that he is, insisted that his friend (me) would come along too.
And so the four of us went upstairs to the lobby. We all chatted for a while together and I then pulled my girl out of the hotel, to the street. Within a few minutes we were kissing. My girl was very different from her friend. While Aaron's chick was very confident and racy my chick was extremely timid and shy. While my girl was very thin and fragile, still very much a teenager, Aaron's girl was a feisty chick who knew everything about men and their ways.
While I was already kissing and caressing my girl, Aaron was struggling with his. She was push-pulling him, turning from hot to cold and vice versa within minutes. We exchanged details with the girls and agreed to meet the following day and go to the local "beach" - the riverside.
The next day we moved to Hotel Russia, the same hotel in which the club is located. We discovered that it is a little cheaper than the City Club Hotel and obviously logistics towards any pulling would be much better. At this point we were left with very little cash, just enough to cover the hotel price, two meals and perhaps a few drinks. As there are no ATMs in Transnistria and it is impossible to pay for anything with a credit card - this could be a problem... we'll see.
We met the girls at 12:30 pm and then spent a few hours with them on the riverside beach. As a continuation of night before my girl and I were cuddling on the beach and kissing while Aaron's girl was giving him a hard time. She was flirting with other guys, agreed to jump into the water together with him and then after he already did, changed her mind. She still did not let him kiss her. Although my girl was much more cooperative than her friend, she was still very shy and I had doubts if she would ever let me sleep with her. After a few hours at the "beach" we all left together back to the center of town and made tentative plans to meet that night at the party.
When I arrived back to the hotel I received a message from the girl from the first night who was eager to meet me at the club. I decided to meet her relatively early for drinks at the bar, so I would have enough time to game her and then decide with which girl to continue the night . We met at around 9 PM at the bar but there were no empty tables. We moved to the hotel's restaurant and fort some reason I ordered a very large Sushi combo for the both of us. After about two hours of heavy rapport building it was obvious that we were both very much into each other, and I made my pick for the night. I signed the bill and was beginning to worry that we wouldn't have enough cash to pay for the hotel. "Fuck it", I'll let tomorrow's guy worry about that...
I pulled the girl up to my room so I could "change my shirt" and so we could continue drinking. After about an hour in the room one of the girl's best friends joined us and I entertained the two. We kept drinking and fooling around and my girl's friend was very approving of me, which was an excellent boost. By the time we finished the bottle of Vodka the three of us were borderline drunk and it was high time to hit the dance-floor. As soon as we entered the club I spotted Aaron and his girl, along with her girlfriend, the girl from the previous night / riverside. She was smashingly hot that night in a long tight black skirt. I came over to her, kissed her and turned back to my other girl. I felt terrible.
I returned to my girl and we continued dancing. I had a strange feeling that many of the people in the club were watching us and the girl confirmed it, she could feel it too. She then explained that she had only one boyfriend, some guy she broke up with about a year ago, and that everybody in town knows that she's never been with anybody else since then. Dancing and kissing like we did, especially with a foreigner, was not something she's done before. The looks became more and more intrusive and I grew uncomfortable. Something was off.... Someone came to my girl and spoke to her. She later told me that "I was seen with another girl" the previous night. I was shocked. This town was seriously too small and the vibe around us was totally off.
I decided to pull her back to the room again. Upstairs she continued to reveal more details about her past - her boyfriend was abusive and violent. Her father died when she was young. Her dream was to move away from Transnistria, to the west. She had a rough life in this poor excuse for a country. I began feeling sorry for her. We were both very drunk and the conversation was very intense and at some point she started crying. Suddenly - the phone rang. I was pretty surprised. Who would call to the room so late? It was about 3 AM.
- "Are you there with a girl?" some man was asking.
I was shocked, again. Who the fuck was this? How did they know in which room we were in? And why would they care? Was this really happening?
- "No... it's a mistake" I said, and hung up.
I didn't tell the girl anything and we continued talking. A few minutes later her phone rang and she answered it. It was one of her friends, who was asking her to come down to the club. We left the room again and went downstairs. In the club, again, I felt that everybody was watching me. What the fuck was going on? Within seconds a security guy appeared from nowhere and talked with my girl. She turned to me with a worried look on her face and said that she must go outside for a few minutes. She said that I should wait for her "right there" and then left without further explanation.
Completely wasted I walked around the club not knowing what to do. I looked for Aaron but he was gone. I felt that the entire club knew who I was and that something was going on behind my back. I began to worry. Transnistria is a lawless place where the police and the mafia are literary one. I could be beaten, or worse, and nobody would know or give a damn. I was just some foreigner and if anything ever happen to me in this place, it would be impossible for anyone to do anything about it. There are no embassies in Transnistria, international law does not apply, policemen can be bought. It isn't even a real country and nobody knew that we were there. The previous night, while dancing next to a hot girl, a guy looked at me and gave me the "knife cutting the neck" sign, making sure that I wouldn't hit on her. The guys here are aggressive... and I'm now fooling around with one of their own.
In a drunken and paranoid haze I decided to go out to the street. I immediately saw my girl speaking with some guy, obviously her ex boyfriend. She was trying to get away from him but he was violently holding her arm. He suddenly saw me and released her. She came over to me and pulled my hand back to the hotel and straight to the elevator, back to the room again. As we walked everybody were watching us - the party guests and the security guards.
The intense conversation continued. More stories of Transnistria - of violent men, of lawlessness and dreams of running away. She said she had never met anybody like me and that she's never had such an intense night as this, that everything seemed like a dream. It was around 4 or 5 am and I had no idea where Aaron was. I thought that maybe he got into trouble because of me.
We were making-out heavily, but during the whole night I had a feeling that closing would be hard. She didn't let me take her clothes off and mentioned something about us sleeping together only the next day. I didn't tell her that we were planning to leave in the morning - partly because we simply wanted to move on and partly because we didn't have any more cash.
But suddenly, out of nowhere, she asked me if I'd like to come with her to her mother's apartment, which was only 200 meters away. I was shocked, again. She didn't mention the apartment the whole night and her mother was living in a house someplace out of town. She then explained that her mother, in Transnistrian terms, is pretty well off. She said her mother was a very "smart and powerful" woman. That, together with some of the other stories that she told me that night, made me uneasy again. I felt that perhaps her father didn't simply die from a heart-attack or some accident, that there is much to that story that she wasn't telling me.
We left the hotel and walked to the apartment which was literally five minutes away. It was located in a big communist style apartment block. We walked into the apartment. On her desk was a William Faulkner short story that she was reading as homework, a story that I read in college too - A Rose for Emily. It is a Southern tale about a woman who kills her boyfriend and keeps the body in her home... great.
We drank some water and she then went to have a shower. A few minutes later she returned in underwear and a T. It was so freaking late... it was already fully bright outside. We started kissing again and within seconds the clothes came off. The illusive Transnistrian flag has been captured.
The sex was out of this world. The intensity of the night, the alcohol and paranoia turned into ecstasy. She hasn't been with anyone since the breakup and I was only her 2nd guy. Her body turned red and she orgasmed violently.
We hugged each other and talked some more. I then went to the desk, picked up the short story and started reading it aloud. A few moments later she fell asleep. I kept reading the story till the end - the town's officials find the boyfriend's decaying body fully dressed in the woman's bed. I looked around the room - a big teddy bear, English and German books, a wall paper from the 70s...I was so freaking tired. I was living a Tarantino movie.
I really liked this girl but all I could think of is that I wanted to get the hell out of there. Out of the apartment, out of town, out of that "country" - and back to civilization. I started dressing up. She woke up and walked me to the door. I told her that I'd write her later and took the elevator downstairs. I opened the building's big metal door just as a young guy was standing in front of it. I could swear it was the boyfriend. We past each other - me on the way out, he on the way in and the door shut behind him.
I started running back to the hotel like a lunatic. It was 7 or 8 AM and I made up my mind to have breakfast, check-out of the hotel and get the hell out of there. I reached our room breathing heavily, running all the way. I opened the door and found Aaron half asleep in his bed. I was relieved. I seriously thought that something happened to him and was ready to get the hell out of there, putting this crazy night behind me. But as it turned out - the night was far from over.
- "Are you OK?"
- "I had the craziest night... listen, I want to leave this place. Right now. I'm serious, lets go, I will explain why on the way."
- "OK..... "
- "I've got that fucking flag by the way...."
- "Cool. Me too...."
- "Great. Which girl?"
He paused and then continued:
- "You're not going to like it..... your other girl".
In the first few seconds it didn't really compute. I didn't care... we both had a good night. Great.
But then it hit me like a ton of bricks: My other girl.
-"What do you mean 'your other girl' ?"
-"You heard me.... your other girl. I banged her in the van".
A flash of anger swept all over me. I'm not sure why, but I fucking lost it. Sure, I've only spent a few hours with her and I've been a complete asshole that night, ditching her for someone else. But I still liked her and there were dozens of other girls in that club. Why did he have to hit on MY girl and not somebody else?
I became angrier and angrier. I felt that the both of them teamed up to get back at us - Aaron to get back at his girl, who was a complete to him, and the girl to get back at me, for going with someone else. A certain feeling of shame swept over me. Shame for them doing it, shame of me being part of it. It was hard to put it in words. I was still more or less drunk and didn't sleep, not even a minute, all night. Anger turned to rage.
I started yelling at Aaron, blaming him for fucking a girl that I liked and wanted. I demanded that he apologize and never do such a thing again. He refused. Not only that, he claimed that it might happen again in the future. By then we were already taking the elevator down, to have breakfast before leaving. The argument escalated and we were more or less screaming at each other. I was fucking angry and he was too, for me blaming him for doing something that he didn't think was wrong.
- "So why did you say 'you're not going to like it?' Why did you do something that you knew would anger me?"
- "You gave up on her... you went with someone else"
- "It doesn't matter.... she was MY girl. There is only one rule between wings - not going after the other guys girl!"
- "She wasn't your girl. You ditched her!"
We arrived to the lobby and Aaron went for breakfast while I headed to the reception. I wanted to sort payment before anything else and had all our local cash and a $20 note. I wasn't sure it would be enough... I've put last night's Sushi on the room and wasn't sure what the total would be. The receptionist printed our bill and I took out all our money. She looked at the $20 and gave it back to me:
- "This is not good... look, there's something printed on it."
I couldn't believe it. It happened to us the previous day as well, when we were exchanging money. We tried three times to exchange a $100 dollar bill. If the bill had any marking on it - they wouldn't take it. For the people running this town shooting someone in the head for refusing to sell his restaurant was OK but marked bills were not.
We started to argue. I told her that we're out of cash and that we must leave town within an hour. She refused to take the money and I felt like shooting MYSELF in the head and just putting an end to it all.
Suddenly an older guy appeared out of nowhere, with his wife. They were heading for breakfast and heard the riot.
- "What's going on here?"
- "She won't take my bill and we need to leave, as soon as possible..."
The man took the bill and looked at it. He then looked at me and turned to the receptionist:
- "It's fine... I'll front him. If there is anything wrong with the bill, I'll take it and give you another one."
The receptionist took the $20 and our bill was settled. I went to the dinning room where Aaron was already eating, unaware of the latest drama. This was too much action... even for me.
The situation was seriously tensed. Aaron saw how mad I was but refused to apologize. Not only that, he became angrier and angrier himself.
- "So you're not going to apologize?"
- "You don't think it was wrong, to sleep with the only other girl that I wanted in this whole fucking town?"
- "Well... this is a big problem...."
- "So maybe we shouldn't be friends anymore and not travel together."
I didn't know what to do. This was a serious hit to my pride but I didn't know if I was angry for legitimate reasons, or if I was just being drunk and childish. Looking back - I'm still not sure. The summer was only starting. To split up now over this would be idiotic... we shared the van, otherwise we were always a good team. My mind was racing.
We finished breakfast in silence. Without saying a word to each other we went back to the room, finished packing, and checked-out. We had a long drive to Kishinev and no GPS. We knew the way would be problematic, with a bureaucratic nightmarish border crossing, potential bribes and god knows what.
We started driving and made a few navigational errors, which extended the already too long ride, at one point we found ourselves in front of a Russian tank with soldiers holding machine guns, at a closed road between the breakaway territory and Moldova. We turned around and continued looking for the border. Eventually we found it and crossed relatively quickly. We had to bribe the officials on both sides, in three different currencies, the little that remained from the local money, Ukrainian currency, and some dollar bills. We were then stopped for "speeding", on the Moldovan side, and had to pay another bribe. Thankfully, when it comes to bribe money - marked bill are OK. By the time we reached Kishinev it was 4 or 5 pm, with no sleep, since the previous night, and with no money of any kind. During the entire drive we hardly exchanged a word.
We didn't book a room in Kishinev so we didn't know where we're going to. We stopped at a McDonalds and took out our laptops. There was an ATM there, so finally, I withdrew some cash. I went to the counter and ordered a salad. Out of anger and from an automatic compulsion, I started flirting with the girl who was serving me, who was the first Moldavian person I spoke to. I decided to game her and start working on that much needed Moldavian flag.... We just arrived here but in my anger I was already "working".... "I'll show Aaron how it's done!" I told myself. I went back to our table, ate, we booked a hotel online and were ready to leave. I took out a pen and wrote my Facebook details on a napkin. I went back to the counter, cut through the line and gave the napkin to the girl. "It was nice meeting you... here are my Facebook details.... " I smiled and went away.
In the night I received her friend request. I instantly wrote her and asked for recommendations around town. I planned on asking her out but she never answered my message. A few weeks later we chatted, it turned out she received the massage only the next day and thought that we already left. We stayed there for three nights and then left to Romania. The Moldavian flag remains uncaptured.
Fear and Loathing in Transnistria.
Posted September 13th, 2012 at 3:27 PM
Posted September 15th, 2012 at 3:26 PM
Really liked it. Subscribed.
I love women. "I am what I am and thats all there is to it kid. Don't like it? Really? Fuck off." "You are a perfect fucking being and the universe loves you. True healing is realizing you were never sick in the first place" "If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe."
Posted September 15th, 2012 at 5:16 PM
Posted December 16th, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Posted December 17th, 2012 at 12:46 AM