Friday, September 08, 2006

Drug mules

Crossing the border from Ukraine to Romania was an amazing adventure. We had to get up early to catch a bus across the border the bus was scheduled to leave at 7:10 but was running a little late because the driver and his friends had to stuff the bus full of cigarettes. We had heard that this border crossing was a favourite for cigarette smugglers but we did not think that we would be involved. They were stuffing packets into the headrests of the seats, but even a child would've been able to see them. When the bus finally left it had only out 10 other people on it. As we approached the border we realized that we were the only fare paying passengers, everyone else knew each other and that the gypsy looking women may have been thinner than they looked.
Somehow we made it across the Ukrainian border ok. The Romanian border was a little bit more interesting, as we drove the 50 metres to the border the driver and the ringleader were looking increasingly uneasy asking us to carry a few cartons for them. We politely declined being uneasy about crossing the border ourselves.
We somehow made it through, although we have a sneaky suspicion that money may have exchanged hands, because just before the border they had a whip around on the bus with no explanation to us of course. You could smell the relief amongst the smugglers. We realized the extent of the operation when the 'large' women started removing huge belts of cigarettes from around their waist (Bali nine style) and emptied their stockings out. Our one regret is that we didn't get them to pose for photos.


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