The Family without borders
most difficult, Georgia the loveliest
Brave and adventurous
young married couple decided to give a piece of world to their baby daughter Hanna
and spread her and their own view. European Union countries are more and more
similar to each other, shopping windows are the same everywhere, so the Black
Sea route supposed to reveal life in eastern part of Europe
LJILJANA SAMARDŽIĆ (firstname.lastname@example.org)
from Sombor, SERBIA
is not the first time that somebody showed how parenthood doesn't mean that you
are bored, caged by your home and household obligations, tighten by baby's needs
and that your social or any other sphere of life is over. Anna Sulewska (a
journalist from Poland) and her husband Thomas Alboth (professional photographer
from Germany) decided to undertake a family project which includes 9 countries,
6 months and 3 people (Anna, Tom and Hanna - their baby daughter) and to
continue their life as always dreamt of.
They are still on the move and
WAVE magazine got its story straight from Georgia, the most wonderful
country, according to Anna Sulewska.
How long do you plan to stay there
and do you have any agenda regarding how many days you'll stay in any country?
We knew that we have six months and nine countries, some bigger some smaller,
so we made a small draft about each country. But, because everything started later
from Poland (we had to repair the car), we were two weeks late from the beginning.
Then in Moldova we stayed much longer, waiting for visa to Russia and Azerbaijan,
so we had to be quite flexible.
In Georgia we feel very good so we decided
to stay a bit longer and then shorter in Turkey. Still some 1,5-2 weeks.
it expensive to make a trip like this one?
No! I will tell you why: in everyday life you pay mostly for eating and sleeping.
We would eat at home too, and here it's even cheaper. Regarding sleeping, we rent
for this six months our flat in Berlin, so we have no costs there. Most of the
time we sleep in the car, which we prepared very much for it, or at friend's.
We also have tent but we still didn't use it, so we paid for sleeping maybe 10-15
times since April (also not more than one night in our rented flat).
what is important is that we have a baby, so we get money from German state
for 14 months for a baby, which is our "income" in these six months.
For what we have to pay is: petrol, visas and tickets to see things.
you sleep in your car where do you park? Aren't you afraid?
night (in north Romania) was a bit scary. Some shepherds came in the middle of
the night, knocking and screaming, they were not sleeping so wanted us also not
to sleep. But after seeing baby they've stopped. It was the only "uncalm"
We usually try to find a place a bit further from village,
not to be so visible and we close the car from inside, so not much can happen.
We can drive away anytime. Ok, I was afraid last night, because in Georgian mountains,
they told us that around waterfall we wanted to stay at, is a bear, running around,
so I was afraid of going out at night.
How do people differ in countries
you've visited from people where you live?
- They are different, but
that's why we decided to go east, not west. But then I have to talk about each
country separately. Any concrete one?
Please, say something about the
country that most affected on you.
- Transnistria, not recognized
by any country, state in Moldova, the poorest part of the poorest country in Europe.
While sitting at the lake we were invited to stay for the night at some family,
in old block, in small town in this state, so we could really "feel"
it from inside: small boy, playing with our camera, having camera for the first
time in his life (and after 24h deciding that he will be photo reporter). It is
a very poor family, in a small flat. They gave us their wet bed and everything
they had in the fridge.
was the most difficult, Georgia is the loveliest.
Why is Georgia the
loveliest to you?
- As parents we have very much this "throughout
baby" perspective and Georgians are absolutely crazy about blond Hanna. I'm
even a bit worrying if she will not get totally spoiled. Everybody wants to kiss,
hug, play - cannot walk by without touching her, but it's in general so nice!
Police stop you, because you make something wrong, see the baby, and ask boy or
girl, name and you can go and nobody is so hospital as them, helpful, a lot to
say, only good things!
And what was the hardest thing during your trip?
Russian police and driving in Russia with Polish car plate. We were stopped
every hour for sure in Russia. We had transit visa, for 4 days from Crimea
to Georgia. Those were four crazy days of driving and stress because police wants
money and will find millions of reasons why you should pay. Awful, awful and awfully
unfair, and they have such a power! And again baby was helpful...
the end was also not funny. After four days we arrived at the border near Vladikavkaz.
It was 7pm, so not much time left on this day and they told us that this border
is closed for EU citizens, which was the opposite of our sources on the Internet
where we found in March news that the first Russian Georgian crossing is open
for foreigners. They disclaimed it and gave us two options. To go by Chechnya
and Dagestan to Azerbaijan, which is first of all dangerous and secondly also
not sure if EU citizens can cross, or drive to Sochi and take a ferry to Turkey
and drive to Georgia, which means almost 1000 km, being stopped by police again
and again, money spent on the ferry and punishment that visa had expired. That
was the most down point of our trip.
decided drive to Sochi, where we met one Russian official, who felt sorry for
our driving and postponed visa almost for free, so we got a ferry just three days
later and got very well trained how to talk with police. NEVER go to Russia with
foreign car, seriously!
Are you making plans for any activities (when
you get back home) which will spread this ideas and experience?
the difficult question. We always had in mind this dreamt future journalistic-traveling,
but with this trip we decided at the beginning that we will not make stress and
have real holidays for the first time and not necessarily publish things. But,
it's a bit pity. So, I can't tell you yet, I guess after coming back home it will
come to us what to do. It's difficult, because it could be for: travellers, parents,
reporters... everybody and nobody - hard to find a real target group.
you have any problems for being foreign journalist?
- No, it
only helped actually! I didn't want to tell it at the beginning, we were hiding
camera, but later on somebody told us to use it as weapon, so I had camera
in my hands when they were stopping us telling - Oh, we have such a journalistic
excursion through Russia and they were even not trying to ask for money after
seeing Hanna (which was hugging the policeman).
Regarding Hanna, how
will she benefit from this trip?
- I hope all the time that something
will really stay in her, even if she will probably not remember. She is totally
not afraid of anybody, sharing cookie (feeding) lady in Russian bank, kissing
Turkish captain of the ferry, smiling and waving to everybody. She is very communicative,
which is great, we are also laughing about the fact that all cows, sheep and donkeys
she got to know from morning nature TV programme (by window of the car) instead
of from books.
But, she, for example, cannot be alone. When we are at
friend's, in the flat, she is crying when she is alone in the room, because in
the car, or around the car, we wouldn't leave her without attention, so this is
minus for sure, but colors, smells, languages - I believe it can only spread her
small head that from beginning on she knows how crazily diverse world is.
you considering alike projects in the future?
- We see that it's possible,
I guess even with two kids. I think it's the best you can do in this first year
of life - being together, baby, mama and papa all the time, that nobody misses
anything. And we want to have another baby, with not big age difference, so I
guess we will make another trip, now it will be even easier when we know how to
warm up milk, talk with cows... and grandparents know that they will survive [smile].