After several weeks of heat, humidity and sleepless nights, last night, the heavens opened up, over Odessa. I am not talking just the Christian heavens, this downpour was far more than biblical, the Jewish, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist faiths all came along for moral support.
Shevchenka Avenue, the street where we live, had recently been taking on the appearance of a city bound Atacama, yet in the space of less than ten minutes it turned into the raging torrents of the Amazon headwaters. Being a man of leisure these days, I can more or less choose when I want to go out, except of course today, there was no choice, the customs broker we were using, called us 5 minutes before the downpour and asked us to meet her at the UPS office in town in 30 minutes.
So fully unprepared for the torrent, Tania and I waded into Shevchenka Avenue. Tania’s initial idea had been to take the bus, which duly arrived after about 5 minutes. The bus idea was quickly abolished as we realized we needed a canoe to get from the curb to the point where the bus had stopped; and so we decided to walk down the street to find a point where the road and curb were not separated by a small lake.
The next obstacle was deceiving. A side road needed crossing and at first glance the waters gushing down it into Shevchenka Avenue were about an inch deep. Two girls standing on the side were not convinced, but with all the bravado of an Amazon explorer, I grabbed Tania’s hand and stepped onto the road and right up to my ankles. My trainers, which had seen betters days, a long time ago had large holes in them and filled quicker than the Titanic. The water seemed just as frigid. The two girls, convinced by my bravado received a similar fate, although being young Ukrainians; it was only the front of their feet that got wet courtesy of 6-inch stilettos.
Eventually we found some dry land and proceeded to find a car to take us to town. By now, Odessa’s transport infrastructure had virtually collapsed, the sudden deluge of rain had turn the roads into the tarmac equivalent of pulped banana skins and the combination of wealthy locals in 4X4’s going to fast and the less wealthy in Lada’s with banana skins for brake pads had led to absolute carnage. There were accidents everywhere and any semblance of traffic flow had disappeared entirely.
Eventually we got to UPS, I picked up my Mac computer and we called for a taxi to take us home. Now anyone that has tried to get a taxi in London when one spot of rain falls serenely out of the sky, will have sympathy for our predicament and our requirement for a large car (Mac Pro computers are not small) restricted us even more. After several calls we found a company who said they would be there in ten minutes.
We waited, ten minutes came and went, lightning was now flying over our heads and thunder rumbling so long you wondered if God had stuck it in loop mode. Rain was beating not so gently on our heads and my trainers were still leaking the water from Shevchenka Avenue.
Twenty minutes and Tania walked to the main road and started to flag down passing cars. Thirty minutes and she had persuaded some poor sod on his way home to divert round the corner and pick up a drenched Englishman with two large boxes and aquatic trainers. As we pulled away, I snook a glance in the rear view mirror to see a large car pull up outside the UPS office. On the top it said taxi. Tradition dictates that I suggest the rest of the journey back was uneventful but it wasn’t. Amongst the increasing destruction was a three-way pile up on a busy corner, involving two cars and a trolley bus completely blocking the southbound direction. One enterprising bus driver had driven his entire vehicle and passengers onto the pavement to get past the accident. Pedestrians scattered everywhere and the looks on the passengers faces as the bus dropped off an usually high curbside suggest that Ukrainian bikes sales may be on the increase in the near future.
Today the sun is shining and not a cloud in the sky. Of course I don’t have to go out!