(Last installment of the “Going East” storyline, which was conceived as an introduction to a children’s story. Some corrections are needed and the whole thing will reappear as a single post shortly.)
Now Russia and the language has become so strange you cannot even recognise the letters on the signposts. It’s not that much of a problem for you as it seems, though : you are going East, the landscape is mainly one big countryside, and as long as you remember to face the Sun in the morning…
Russians eat cabbage mainly and of that too you will tire soon. They eat cabbage pies and cabbage soups and cabbage stews, And they drink vodka and beer which, for all you know, they could very well make out of cabbages.
But, nonetheless, you should be able to walk fast, fuelled by a steady diet of cabbage and the occasional dried fish – if you remembered to keep any. Please, tell me you remembered to keep at least some fish. By the middle of September, if everything went according to plan and you didn’t end up dead in a ditch somewhere along the way, a large chain of mountains should be standing in front of you.
It is called the Ural and some think it marks the end of Europe. Crossing it should take no more than a week or two and hopefully it should not be too difficult. It will be cold, though, but hopefully you will be motivated by all these cabbages you are leaving behind.
By now our maps, which for the last few hundred miles had grown unreliable, have become downright eccentric and cannot really be trusted. Suffice to say that you must head East still, but also a little South, towards warmer climes for Winter is coming. Soon enough, even if I cannot tell you how soon, you will find the country of which I talk.
It is rather green, that place : rolling hills and deep, dark forests, and meadows and deep, dark lakes. The people there you will soon meet : they are few but generally happy. A man lives here, a woman there, there is a homestead by the river and a family farm further along in the valley. To go from one house to another would take most of the day, so they don’t see each other as often as maybe they would like. Villages exist, but they are even further apart, with at least forty or fifty miles between them. Like you they mostly go by foot and only occasionally use horses. They do not keep cattle. The rulers of this land do not eat meat anymore but there is no need to take risk, is there?
Because, if on the whole this country is kind to human beings, it is not a human country.
We are indeed something else altogether.