Coming from Ukraine where we had spent some wonderful days, we arrived at the Moldovan border, completely unaware or where we really were and what we had to do.And here it started…
A bit of History
What you might not know, is that along the border between Moldova and Ukraine lays an area called Transnistria. And you might ask, what is this place and why haven’t I heard about it before? Well, let me tell you more about it.
Transnistria, also referred to as Transdniestria or Pridnestrovie, and officially the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, is a breakaway state in the narrow strip of land between the river Dniester and the Ukrainian border that is internationally recognized as part of Moldova and has been recognised only by three other mostly non-recognised states, Abkhazia, Artsakh, and South Ossetia. Transnistria is even designated by the Republic of Moldova as the Transnistria autonomous territorial unit with special legal status .
“After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, tensions between Moldova and the breakaway Transnistrian territory escalated into a military conflict that started in March 1992 and was concluded by a ceasefire in July of the same year. As part of that agreement, a three-party (Russia, Moldova, Transnistria) Joint Control Commission supervises the security arrangements in the demilitarised zone, comprising twenty localities on both sides of the river. Although the ceasefire has held, the territory’s political status remains unresolved: Transnistria is an unrecognised but de facto independent semi-presidential republic with its own government, parliament, military, police, postal system, currency and vehicle registration. Its authorities have adopted a constitution, flag, national anthem and coat of arms.”Wikipedia
Now, keep in mind that my friend and I had no clue about the existence of such a place ( which is insane knowing the amount of research I have done before leaving!!).
Crossing the border
We arrived at the border, confident in our legitimacy to cross it, and started to show all our documents and car registration to one of the border control guard. This one, who barely spoke English, kept repeating that we were in trouble, that our documents weren’t legit and that we were liars. I must admit: I was pretty nervous.
After some back and forth conversation leading nowhere, he gave me a free pass, which was a hand written note, explaining that I had to follow him, but that my friend had to remain in the car. I follow this guard towards a administrative building and entered one of the most chaotic place of all times.
There were so many people and family members shouting and yelling on the phone in a lot of different and foreign languages that I got overwhelmed. The man indicated a lady to whom I shall speak to regarding passing the border.
Keep in mind that, so far, I still thought I was crossing the border to Moldova directly.
The lady seemed overwhelmed as well and quite out of patience. But she spoke very well English and explained to me that I had to pay to cross this border with Transnistria, and pay cash. She wrote on an unreadable piece of paper an amount and told me to go to the ATM across the border. I struggled to find it but managed, before struggling to understand this machine as it wasn’t in English and I didn’t know what currency she wanted.
Finally, after sweating in front of the screen I went back to the building where I met my friend and the lady to whom I gave the money. Apparently I had withdraw way too much (and am now the happy owner of some Transnistrian bills) and she finally gave us a paper to give back to the guard to be able to remain in this strange country for only three hours.
After a “goodbye, and good luck” we were finally on our way to explore Moldova (Oups, I mean Transnistria).