TIRASPOL, TRANSNISTRIA: A ROAD TRIP TO “NOWHERE”

We went to Transnistria yesterday. Trans-what? Exactly. Doesn’t really exist, but yet, it does…

Tiraspol is internationally recognized as the second largest city in Moldova, but is currently the capital and administrative center of the unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Transnistria.) 

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Beginning the trip from Chișinău: “Solidarity”
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The peaceful road to Tiraspol.

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As we were leaving Chisinau, I was warned by Moldovans to “Be careful with your American passport!” I asked why, but there was no real answer in return. Just “Be careful. Maybe the border guards won’t be so nice.” That was nothing new to me as I’m used to being treated pretty badly at all road borders around the globe. I was traveling with a Ukrainian in her car, so I thought, “we’ll see how it goes. Worse comes to worst, we’ll just turn around at the border and head back to Chisinau.”

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On September 2, 1990, Tiraspol was proclaimed the capital of the new Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Naturally, I couldn’t take any photos at the border crossings, but suffice it to say, the experience was hands-down the best, most pleasant experience either of us have ever had with border controls. At the first crossing, the guard eyed over my friend’s Ukrainian passport for a lengthy bit of time, but declined to look at mine at all. (What?!)  

 

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“I love Tiraspol”
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Soviet era trolley bus

At the second stop, as we went to register for a day trip, my friend overheard a guard saying to another visitor in Russian, “We’re very friendly ~ we welcome everyone!” No problems there, either, and we crossed over into Transnistria. Gone were any signs in English – everything was in Russian, and some Ukrainian.

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a T-34 tank from the Great Patriotic War era forms part of a monument which also contains soil from the pivotal battle of Stalingrad.

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We couldn’t figure out why, in the midst of the “Soviet era vibe,” there were these freaky dwarf-gnomes on the street. Just gold. Just looking at us. Then, there were more at a market.

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Walking up and down October 25th street, the “main drag,” as they say…we couldn’t help noticing that the streets seemed quite empty. The whole place was quiet and subdued.

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“First, I’ll invade my coffee, then I’ll invade the world.”

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This breed/type of dog is prevalent on the streets here.
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Cool cat. Got some fish from us.

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Vladimir Lenin statue in front of Supreme Soviet (Parliament) Building.

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Abandoned ferris wheel

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The modern city of Tiraspol was founded by Russian Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov in 1792.

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Beach on Dniester River

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Here are some questions I wanted answered:

  1. What do people here do about passports? = “…it appears that people here still identify themselves as Soviet citizens, though they often carry double passports: Russian, Moldavian or Ukrainian, depending if they have family living in one of these countries. The Transnistrian passport itself is a thing on its own. It cannot be used anywhere else in the world. It is basically a book, which looks like a passport from the outside, but where on the inside you will find hand written personal details, approved with some official stamps.” http://www.offbeattravelling.com/transnistria-trans-what/
  2. As simply explained as possible, what happened to cause the breakaway from Moldova? = “The ostensible cause of the conflict was the fear, which was not beyond reason, that Moldova would merge with Romania. And these Slavic speakers in Transnistria did not want that to happen as they would become a minority in greater Romania.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adst/moldovas-transnistrian-co_b_11180694.html

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We left a place that doesn’t really exist – ( it was like being ferreted back through history in a time capsule to the Soviet period ) – at sunset, and were more than happy to have had the experience and to have seen it for ourselves.

Border crossing on way back: Different guards from earlier, and still friendly. This time, one of them did take my passport, but it was more to just read about the places I’ve been and to ask about them. 

Notes: They have their own currency, Transnistrian Rubles. About 14TRB = 1USD. Between my friend and I, we had about $20 and had a HUGE lunch (a whole fish with vegetables, a Greek Salad, a large pork chop with vegetables), 2 beers, then later on two coffees, and souvenir cookies and still had 2 rubles to spare. 

8jul17. Tiraspol, Transnistria. 

L.A. STREET ART: LENIN

An excerpt from Fairfax by Night online: http://www.fairfaxbynight.com/lenin-sculpture-at-ace-museum-on-la-brea-ave/

A work of the Gao Brothers from China, the Lenin Sculpture is another piece in their progression of provocative art. The artists have included several elements that show this controversial figure in a new light for the world of art. With a vivid chrome finish, the metal sculpture is constructed from horizontal sections that were purposefully staggered to make up this very thought provoking likeness of ruthless Russian dictator Vladimir Lenin. As such a well know person, the artists’ decision to give his face a chrome finish takes the focus away from Lenin, and to the sculpture’s context by allowing the reflections to highlight the immediate surroundings instead of Lenin in an appropriately demeaning fashion. The staggered sections represent his broken and destructive legacy that brought so much turmoil to Russia. Atop is a very playful inclusion of baby holding a balance stick on top of Lenin’s protruding head, as if walking a tight rope of his disastrous and risky Marxist ideals.

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22mar14. Los Angeles, CA.

ANONYMOUS BOGOTA GRAFFITI

Pais de Mierda
Pais de Mierda

I arrived in Bogota at night and the first mural that struck me on my ride from the airport to my apartment, was this one, “Pais de Mierda.” I always wanted to go back and read it to learn more about it. It’s Jaime Garzon, a former political satirist, lawyer, journalist, and peace activist. He was very popular on Colombian television in the 90’s. He was murdered in 1999 and his killers have never been found. Directly translated, “Pais de Mierda” means “Shitty Country.” To the bottom right, you can see Che Guevara and “Todo el Poder al Pueblo,” which means “All Power to the People.” Between Garzon and Guevara, is a stencil of Lenin and below him, “Red.” 23SEP12 Bogota, Colombia. (Canon 550D, Canon Lens EF 28mm)

Lucha
Lucha

This is a new one I found on a wall off of Carrera 7. I zoomed in on this character, but it’s a part of a much larger picture titled “Lucha,” which means “Fight.” The whole piece is full of grenades, bullet cases, and other military paraphernalia that are flying around chaotically in a fury, really demonstrating the violence of war. 23SEP12. Bogota, Colombia. (Canon 550D, Canon Lens EF 28mm)