My experiences with the Eastern European leg of my journey have been eventful to say the least. I have been persistently barked at and chased by crazy dogs, but have also been offered protection by an off duty Russian policeman.
It was on my second day in the beautiful country of Latvia, (which in my eyes has a huge resemblance to Exmoor) I was flagged down by a man. At first I was quite bemused as I had no idea what he wanted from me and as my Russian is non- existent and his English about the same, he eventually took out his police ID and I assumed for some reason, I was in for a telling off! This wasn’t the case, it turned out he was on off duty Russian policeman chasing Russian Mafia in Latvia!
After lots of miming and a long ‘conversation’ later, I understood that he was trying to tell me he thought I had a strong/good heart to run this way (I had run past him and his colleague a few miles earlier). He then warned that the Mafia were in the area and proceeded to give me the phone number for his station in Moscow and then his own personal mobile to use if I ever needed help whilst in Latvia.
He then kindly offered me a drink, but I still had 20 miles to run! I didn’t fancy the heartburn that Vodka would give me, I feel bad that I turned it down now!
Finally he pointed to his heart then mine and said ‘Maj sa dobre’. My understanding is something along the lines of ‘from my heart – be well!’
It did put the incessant aggressive dogs to the back of my mind for a while. It also made me run like had a rocket up my behind, I didn’t want to be trespassing on a field that belonged to the Mafia!