The problem can be fixed, .. maybe today,.. maybe Monday, .. nobody is sure. The lady with the smile tells us not to worry, .. we will make today’s crossing,.. the officer with the oversized cap is not so sure, …. the lady without a smile is certain that we wont. We must wait,… a decision will be made. I sit back and enjoy taking time to observe the life and bustle around me. Three months earlier I would have been fretting and shouting at every official in sight, but today I’m relaxed, I’m surprised about how mellow I’ve become, .. perhaps it’s ‘age’, perhaps it’s just ‘travelling’. It would be nice to share a few beers on the ferry to Sok Cho with our new friends Hans, Volker and Heaven, .. but it would also be good to put some serious distance between Rodrigo, and ourselves ….. each solution has its benefits and drawbacks.
I watch on as Alan turns from boy to man. Since his experience at the small church on the Amur Highway he’s grown from the timid guy that he'd been into the man that he always could be. Without any prompting from myself he's working the official’s like an old expert traveller, …. he’s smiling and laughing with them, bringing them around to his point of view with a gentle and caressing manner .. he’s found a new degree of confidence to act on his own,.. he has at last found the initiative he needed.
If I was forced to place my own pin in the world map of religion, ….. it would probably sit somewhere to the east of Paganism. I fully respect everybody’s choices and beliefs and if Alan finding God on this journey adds value to his life, ... then this journey has been of much greater benefit to him than even he perhaps realises. I smile to myself as I watch, ….. I’m confident that he’ll conquer Route66.
As departure time approaches and passes, …… the solution to our visa issue is still not clear. The door to the ferry rises, .. the passengers line the balconies and wave back to the shore. The white water rising from the rear of the ship and the thick ropes sliding silently up towards her decks are not good signs for the immediate progress of Poor Circulation. The lady with the smile apologises, .. the officer in the oversized cap is nonchalant and the lady without the smile now looks like the cat that took the cream. We will return on Monday, … the visa problem will vanish with the payment of 2,000Rr each.
We ride back to our previous nights hotel on the opposite side of the bay. We follow the ferry as it sails out to sea, … from the balconies we can make out Hans, Volker and Heaven, ….. each with a bottle of chilled beer in one hand,.. waving with the other. Looking towards the ships bridge, …. I’m sure that the I can see a familiar dark and diminutive figure offering navigational advice to the captain, …… Brazil has overtaken England, …. but for me, this was never a race but an adventure. I’ve got two days to kill in Zarabino and I know the whereabouts of an amazing ‘Shashlique Café’, …. time to eat and drink, South Korea is only a bribe away.