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Letter from Slovakia 2: The ‘any old iron’ tanks 


FIRST I was a bit hesitant to crack jokes given the suffering of the Ukraine people. But then I decided, to hell with it. No disrespect intended.

I have mentioned our brave Slovak soldiers still fighting their Omicron war with their ridiculous face masks in my previous post about my trip to the Ukrainian border. Actually getting there was pretty ridiculous as well.

As I have mentioned, I have never been there before. But I was kind of lazy to have a look at a map since I was pretty sure I would get there without it. From traffic announcements I remember border crossing Vyšný Komárnik. I had it associated with Ukraine. So I entered that into my 11-years-old car navigation system.  

On my way there, I stopped in Banská Bystrica, which is right in the middle of Slovakia and had a lunch with a former colleague of mine. I have found out about other border crossing called Ubľa from him.  

So when I left Banská Bystrica, I entered that one into my navigation system as well, just to see which one was closer. And from the news I learned that somebody from our government was heading to yet another border crossing called Vyšné Nemecké.  

When I compared the three, my first pick, Vyšný Komárnik, was still the closest. But I found it odd that difference was about 60km, which seemed to be quite a lot considering the fact that Slovakia has less than 100km border with Ukraine going pretty much vertically north-south and I was approaching it from the west approximately in its middle.  

Some doubts started creeping in and when I called another friend of mine to give him some shocking news that I was just passing by a Russian tank – a monument to the WWII really – I asked him to have a look at a map for me to make sure Vyšný Komárnik is the right place to go.  

It turned out that Vyšný Komárnik is a border crossing to Poland, not Ukraine. So I changed my final destination to Vyšné Nemecké. I found the term ‘final destination’ a bit more dramatic though.  

Anyway, just before it I passed through town called Sečovce with its unorthodox Roma community and their view of life somehow different from the mainstream.  

Romas used to be wanderers, nomads, in the past. Then they were forced to settle down and it is just not their cup of tea. They do not seem to care about the appearance of their houses so much, for instance.  

On my way back it occurred to me if Slovakia was really to face the Russian tanks on its own we would actually not be without a chance. Even Russians would be scared by those houses and there would be a fair chance that any Russian tank trying to pass through Sečovce would end up as a scrap iron thanks to the local community.

Parody continues. As I also mentioned in my previous post, I was expecting a Ukrainian mother with her kids yesterday. But so far nobody has shown up and I have not heard from the charity organising their arrival for two days now.  

I do not know what happened. Maybe they could not find the border crossing just like me, almost ending up on a Polish border. Let’s see if anybody shows up one of these days. Anyway, at least my house has never been so spick and span thanks to my wife and my daughter getting it ready for the arrival … 

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Ivan Pupak
Ivan Pupak
Ivan Pupak is a Slovak national whose life mission is to make Slovak little more simple to learn for foreigners and get rid of some of its completely useless grammar rules (that drive both foreign and native students of Slovak crazy!)

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