Therefore, our "camel" - the cargo and passenger "Gazelle" and "patrol" - the VAZ 2115 accompanying it, go onto the caravan trail M4 "Don". Two days' journey - and from the frosty Moscow slush we find ourselves in the golden autumn of the Krasnodar Territory, and there in the velvet summer of Abkhazia. But before there was customs.
At four o’clock in the afternoon we attach ourselves to the tail of a string of cars at the Veseloe customs crossing. The lines here are a seasonal phenomenon. The first peak is the beginning of March, when the demand for mimosa jumps many times. The second is New Year’s Day, due to the large-scale transfer of tangerines. The rest of the time, the transition, they say, takes no more than two hours.
By midnight, there was a revival in our convoy, and from the adjacent side cars fell, properly loaded with citrus fruits. "Gazelle" takes on board three (!) Tons, UAZ - at least two, and "Lada" - only 900 kg. That is, a double overload, as we see, is the norm in those parts.
Just another two hours - and the Russian customs handed us over to the Abkhaz customs. The check on the other side of the barrier took about twenty minutes, and we are finally free. We note here that you can buy citrus fruits already at the border market. Prices by Moscow standards are very pleasant - from 13 to 20 rubles per kilogram. Only our task is to go the route to the end, therefore, having asked the price, we go further to the busy central market of Sukhumi. There we find a “profitable” offer and ship the “Gazelle” with sunny fruit.
As expected, an empty Gazelle with a sober driver is of no interest to the traffic police. Now our status has changed - from Abkhazia to Moscow there is a private car with commercial cargo! From conversations with experienced “tangerines” it followed that we would be inhibited at every post and extort a fine under any plausible excuse (or even without it). Therefore, in order not to lose time, it is better to “forget” 50-100 rubles in documents in advance. But this is rumored, but what about the essence?
The first few posts will be passed by in the usual way: stopping, checking documents, registering in a magazine and wishing you a happy journey. And no “hitting", extortion and allusions to the provision of material assistance. We were ready to believe that talking about bribes and requisitions on the roads of Abkhazia was nothing more than tales.
… Having noted themselves at the traffic police post in New Athos, they didn’t even drive five hundred meters, as a dark-red “six” without numbers and tightly tinted windows landed close to the Gazelle. Blinking heart-rendingly with a high beam, the passenger car then equaled us, threatening to overtake with undercutting, then buzzed with a horn, calling to stop. Have stopped. "Six" - parallel to the "Gazelle" in the oncoming lane. Two abreks got out of the car and started, as usual, the traditional conversation about the load, fare and its limitless influence on this stretch of road. In general, an ordinary scenario of primitive robbery.
However, although one of the extortionists at times painted his hand under the jacket’s floor, the bandits didn’t barrels, and who will pay for unreasonable threats?
Finally, the third, apparently senior brigade, who watched the development of events through the lowered Zhiguli glass, compared the intransigence of the “merchants” with the sounds of the walkie-talkie operating in the Gazelle and stopped behind the “fifteenth” with Moscow numbers, and the attacking group was out of action, and to us - the assurance that he will order further along the route not to touch us.
Perhaps this incident would not be worth mentioning if it were not for a series of coincidences. Firstly, at night all cars are stopped and registered at the checkpoints, which means that these “Lada” without numbers are marked in the magazine of the post in New Athos. Moreover, the impression was that the bandits were working in collusion with the police - our Gazelle and Fifteenth passed posts with an interval of several minutes, but neither of these six were between our cars or us. So she stood at the post. Secondly, where does such awareness of the load and composition of our team come from if we did not communicate with anyone other than the traffic police? And thirdly, so cheeky “work” under the very nose of the police can only their own. Such a symbiosis turns out.
Crossing the border in the opposite direction was much more informative! The line of cars by 10 o’clock in the evening was already stretched for a kilometer and continued to grow vigorously. Our "tag" disciplinedly gets into her tail, having reserved a place for the "Gazelle" in front of her - that little hesitated at the entrance. We are waiting for an hour and a half - from our no signals. Finally, the radio came to life - from the "Gazelle" pleased: they were "intercepted" by a traffic cop and for 100 rubles led a secret path to the customs scales, and from there to the high-speed "commercial" line. In order not to lose sight of our “camel”, we are looking for that same inspector-guide. The fee for castling the “fifteenth” is 800 rubles (where is the logic ?!), and a man in uniform squeezes the car into a separate column of especially privileged extraordinary people. It is interesting that everyone perceives this impudence with slavish submission - if he crawls, then he has the right to do so!
Russia welcomes guests with a huge muddy puddle, built directly on the roadway of the bridge. The fare on it costs 50 rubles and is called the sanitization of the car. The action seems to be voluntary, but it cannot be avoided. The senior over the puddle issues customs declarations and supervises the policeman raising the next barrier.
The next stage is customs inspection. At the same time, passengers get out of the car and stomp to Russia on foot. The driver drives the car into the "pit" - the place of inspection. From now on, everything in the car is considered his baggage.
Naturally, nobody will drag boxes with tangerines on themselves, and the rate of their duty-free transportation, assigned to one driver, will be exceeded. Assurances that this cargo belongs to passengers are not taken into account - they are not allowed into this zone, and the car is no longer let out. One thing remains - to pay! Theoretically, there is a mechanism that allows you to declare your goods to each passenger, but this is not so simple. The task of customs is to take a fee, and there will be plenty of solutions! In extreme cases, they will find a Mediterranean fly in fruits, and you will be declared the carrier of foot and mouth disease.
… AND THE CARAVAN IS GOING
Returning home under the impression of crossing the border seemed like a pleasant walk. The traffic cops are mostly courteous, they don’t frankly extort money, and for the sake of checking documents outside the posts they don’t stop. However, at the Dederkoy Pass, the inspector requested a medical book, of which the Gazel driver, of course, did not have. He even promised to find (is it in the mountains something?) A homeless person who will unload tangerines, and something will be revealed there. However, having met our full approval of his plan, for some reason he changed his mind.