The One about Sobatchka and Sobaka

So the bike I borrowed from Eva got the name Sobatchka. The female version of the Ukrainian word Sobaka which means a dog. Quickly I have noticed that Ukraine is the country full of stray dogs. They are usually harmless, wandering around the places. They are not so big fans of cyclists and anybody who enters their territory without superiority.

Eva, my friend, was taking a ferry from Georgia to the Port of Chernomorsk, 20 km away from Odessa. The ferry was delayed and I only knew that she is coming around 11pm. I wanted to pick her up and so after a day of wandering around the city, I have decided to cycle to meet her up.

I have not really planned it well and when it got dark I realised that I do not have any lights with me, at least I had my torch on the phone and the external battery pack. Cycling in Odessa is quite adventurous even with lights. When the old bus is driving behind you, once it starts braking, the old brakes are screaming so loud that you wish they will not fail a driver.

What becomes very interesting is the encounter with the dog pack in the dark without lights. As I wrote at the beginning the dogs are not happy to see cyclists and they are trying to catch them. If you are alone in a dark, better for them. I was pushing my bike along the road when I heard barking dogs. At first, nothing so special but then I realized that the closed petrol station which I was coming towards does not have the fence. Quickly I sat on the bike and started to pedal away with the barking dogs running behind me. I escaped pedalling in the dark hoping I will not ride into bigger trouble.  I met at least 4 more packs and cycled at the highest speed ever. The only thing you can do is to quickly get out. I was also barking on them back thinking if I will make a sound like a lion they will be scared more than me.

I almost approached the port when I had to pass along the railway tracks. After some experience, you realise that the dogs are hanging around empty places or closed petrol stations. I assumed correctly that the dogs will be behind the corner and so I got off the bike and walked. I saw the pack, they saw me. I stopped and started to walk backwards not looking at them so much. I realised that the only way which is going to port is guarded by dogs. I locked my bike on the nearest bridge and made a plan in a second when I saw a car driving towards the port. I jumped in front of it and with my broken Czech/Ukrainian/Russian/English language I said to a driver that I am not going to pass and he must take me in. I do not even know how I managed to speak so he would understand me. I said something like “Ja na velosypedu a tam sobaki” (I am on the bike and there are the dogs). When I sat in his car I thought that sitting alone in the night in the car with a big man is not really the win but I played on my intuition. Also, the port was just behind the corner and there was no other way to drive.

On the port, I waited another hour for Eva and I had to make a plan on how to get along those dogs on the way back. There was a taxi driver coming in and I convinced him to take us and the bikes back to the city. When Eva arrived she brought 3 more people who she met on board. I was so happy to see her and told her all that adventure. She laughed. And because she had an experience with the shepherd’s dogs in Romania (when a dog bit her friend) she said that there will be so many dog packs along the way that I will definitely have more adventures to remember.

I was not happy at all but thought that every beginning is hard and if I managed alone I must manage with her too. And so because every bicycle I ride needs a name, I chose to name the bicycle “Sobatchka” because from now I will be the one who is barking about riding in my territory.


Here are some pictures from Odessa taken on my not so good phone but for sharing memories it is enough.




Author: Michaela Davidova

artist designer: maker, pinhole camera photographer and designer, project coordinator and of course a dreamer and traveller!

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