Watch who you drink vodka with.
Everyone around the tables was friendly. I remember having 3 shots with them and then…
Then I was stumbling and falling from weakness on gravel somewhere in the countryside amid early morning sunlight. Didn’t know where the fuck I was but it certainly wasn’t in the city.
It dawned on me that I had been drugged … robbed … abducted, then ditched on a road in the countryside.
The night before I had gone to a kiosk-cum-beer-tent to get a shish-kebab and, naturally, had a beer while I waited and was intending to return to the hostel to watch a DVD and have a quiet night. It was around 10pm and still light. Busy streets. A group of student-looking guys and their girlfriends got talking to me and offered some vodka.
Now as I stumbled to my feet I really wondered where the fuck I was? Trees, fields, and a country road and thank god it wasn’t cold or raining but I had all my clothes on from the night before – gore-tex jacket, fleece and soaked boots – how had these had gotten wet and had far had I already walked? Just stumbling like a waster in an unbelievable acid trip. I thought I was in a dream.
But my hands were cut and bruised from falling and my head above my eye a little banged from falling. And, while I had all my clothes and Swiss knife and money belt with passport and credit cards and traveler cheques intact, my cash dollars and rubles were all gone. I was like something out of a movie – starring me as lead idiot. All the time I felt really wasted. Not alcoholic wasted-ness – but a euphoric swirling light dizziness. Blanket headache not searing pain. No vomit; no hang-over feeling so I guessed I hadn’t drunk too much but had had my drink spiked.
The doctor later confirmed that. Back at the hostel many hours later the manager called his friend and he checked me over and stated that there’s this drug – for lowering blood pressure that mixed with vodka to knock you out within 20 minutes and wipe your memory. I was showing these signs as he checked my pulse and suggested that I drink alot of coffee to get back on the planet.
I don’t know how long I had walked for but let’s assume hours. And I don’t know how my boots were soaked but my body dry. Did I walk through wet grass, jump a creek, dumped in a farm house or on the roadside? I don’t know.
I tried hitching but no one stopped and besides there were few cars. I stumbled and fell and walked until – somehow in the right direction – towards asphalt roads and then the odd house and then over a hill and into suburbia and what must have been the outer limits of the city. I must have looked like a madmen and felt like one.
I was still feeling sedated but strong enough to break through the feeling – maybe because of my extensive experiences with various drugs over the years – but anyway the few people in the streets were frightened by me and shouted and hurried in the other direction when I tried to ask which way to the city.
I kept walking. Then a decent young Russian guy asked me what had happened as I was trying to communicate to another frightened local at a bus stop. He spoke English. He paid 100 rubles ($3) to a taxi driver to take me into the city center.
I eventually found my way back to the hostel. The receptionist was blown away by my story, and I crashed out. The owner was called along with his doctor friend who said this is the kind of thing police know and do. Two police cadets had been caught robbing a taxi driver the other day. I had some flashback of a big building, wide corridors and uniforms (but here even firemen have camouflage uniforms) and I can’t be sure if this was a dream.
Maybe I was lifted from the streets, searched in a station – money found and, to cover their tracks, dumped way out of town. I lost $372 US dollars and about $300 in rubles but nothing else. Thankfully they didn’t find my hidden supply of an extra $600. True thieves surely would have taken everything including my passport.
I was unlucky and lucky – the damage could have been way worse. In fact it was a bit of a laugh – because it was just so bizarre. An interesting experience but maybe not such good value for money.
Anyway, that was Day One in Russia; 29 to go … maybe, I’d better watch who I drink vodka with next time.