History references. 1)
"There are two misfortunes in Russia - fools and roads" (Russian
proverb). Till modern time roads in Russia mostly are not good. 2) When we
all lived in the USSR there was a problem of "Deficit". This
word sounds the same way both in Russian and in English. It meant all
consumer goods those were not in the sale for all citizens. Such goods as
cars, modern color transistor TV, good furniture, etc were in
"Deficit". Ordinary citizen might to buy those things if he did
some unusual. After that he was given a paper (coupon). Coupon gives the
right for citizen to buy wished thing. Certainly he paid total cost of
Well, it was in October 1990, last year of the USSR existent. Colleague of my father (his name was Vitaly) and I went to Kostroma region where lived his relatives. We wanted to pick some cranberry. On the next day of our arrival we went for 15 km to the swamp where usually were many cranberries. When we got there we had not found only footprints on the moss and no any berries. Later, returned back home we learnt that all cranberries were picked by natives. Picked cranberry was given in special stations where they gave coupons instead registered cranberry. So 1000kg of cranberry changed to coupon that give right to buy a car, 750kg - motor cycle, etc. I do not know if natives could buy anything in that time, but cranberry was picked all on nearest swamps.
And we had to go to far swamp. It was about 45km from town where we were to that swamp. Oh, it was real adventure! Vitaly, his wife and I started early in the morning, several hours before sunrise. It was very dark outdoors in that time. At first we drove along the asphalt road, then road was made from road-metal. At last we came to turn to village. From that village were yet about 14 km to swamp - 7km along the country road (ground) and another 7km through the forest partly along tractor road. But firstly we need to get the village that was on the hill. Road between the turn and the village passed through a big hollow. It was late autumn and so many rains were before that day! On the bottom of hollow, directly on the road were three big puddles of brown-yellow liquid dirt, one after another.
Vitaly began to drive towards village. He drove very carefully and slowly, so the first puddle we passed without difficulties. But second puddle was larger and deeper that first one. Vitaly drove more carefully, but when car was on the middle of the puddle he decided to pass it faster. And dirt got into the car engine. Engine was turned off and we stayed in the middle of the big puddle. We all had a rubber high boots, but dirt in the puddle was higher than Vitaly boot's top. Dirt in the puddle was higher than my knees! My boot was higher but I did not know what engine's unit was needed in cleaning. I cleaned all units that were covered by dirt, but engine stayed died. We spent about 20 minutes this way!
Then little lorry came and our car was got from the puddle by tow. We came in village and saw that our car could not drive along next road. Along that road might drive only lorries and jeeps. And we went to swamp on foot. We went about 2km through the fields along the road and stopped the big lorry. It got us to edge of forest where began tractor road. Tractor road: Imagine for you the ditch full of liquid yellow clay. Its width was about two meters and deep: They said when tractor drove along that road somebody might sow only a top of tractor's cabin.
We went on foot near this ditch about 4km and reach the little river. We needed to get another bank. Across the river were put trunks of trees. There was deep more than meter in the deepest place. On our bank near the tree there were several long sticks. Vitaly said that I must take one or two of they and use as a supports to cross the river. Then we went along several forest vistas turned from one to another. Vitaly knew this way well. When we reached the edge of swamp we had to find way on swamp through the great puddle that was straight in the edge of forest. In some places it has 4ft deep! At last we reached wished swamp. There were many cranberries right away at the edge of swamp! In two hours that we were there I picked about two buckets (10 liters). Vitaly and his wife picked about 3 same buckets each. And it was needed to go back. In two hours we reached the edge of forest, but lorry that got us there already went away. My companions had some meal but I wanted not to do that. And we went straight through the field towards village from which began the road that we went here.
Suddenly I felt a great tiredness and couldn't understand why I did. I carried the wicker basket in which was big lump of black bread. I had eaten a little from it and I understood that I was very hungry. I ate that lump and had felt myself better. We passed through the village and went along the road.
Day had ended and it had been dark. Suddenly passing lorry stopped near us. And its driver invited us to get on the lorry. He was so drunk that if he gets off from lorry he couldn't stand on his feet. Because Vitaly damaged his foot by boot he got on the lorry. But I refuse from this honor and continued my way on foot. I came to place where was our car five minutes later than lorry. Lorry could not lose that road because it was a rut. Vitaly got on car alone and very carefully drove it through the puddles in the hollow. Then we all got on the car and were at home in two hours.
We ate picked cranberries the whole winter and I gave a half of it to my parents.