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10 May 1999

Greetings from a world of stark contrasts.

The past several days have been some of the worst and best of my journey so far. As I moved from one desperate, dangerous place to another from Romania, through Moldova and finally to Ukraine, compassionate people plucked me from hazards and bewilderment time and time again. Living through the process, I have learned that being helpless, confused, non-threatening, but with a goal and alert to possible immediate dangers; brings out the best in other human beings everywhere. It looks to me like we were all, men and women alike, born with a "maternal instinct" that expresses itself whenever we encounter a truly helpless fellow human of any age.


My harrowing tale of passage through Moldova is too complex and convoluted to unravel here. By contrast, Odessa has a holiday spirit... partly because yesterday was indeed a major day of celebration for the Ukrainians: Victory Day. On this day old guys with their chests full of colorful medals LOVE Americans who helped them win the war against Hitler in 1945.

Prices for everything but international hotels are cheap by American standards: $2 for a liter of Vodka, 25 cents for a pack of cigarettes, $2 for a haircut, $22 for a train to Rostov.

Oh my gosh. I just realizes that today marks 65 years of breathing. At Mc Donald's parties they chant something like "Pa Za Ya Yim" several times for the birthday boy or girl.

O.K. That's enough for a  "postcard." I'll close now and go out and buy a $2 bottle of Cognac to celebrate my birthday.


Fred L Bellomy







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Reference photo: author
 August 2002

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