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Miracle from Moscow! 30/11/05

(CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE LIST OF DIARY ENTRIES) This afternoon I was again at the ministry of agriculture, and again in despair. The word from Moscow and Astana was, as per usual, that no permits for my horses had been issued. For the first time even the head vet seemed very worried and was losing hope. Realising that my Kazakhstan visa was already close to expiring it seemed inevitable- I would have to leave the horses behin. I was even beginning to discuss what to do with my horses here in Kazakhstan- to sell or give away as gifts- when we made one last phone call to Astana. Suddenly Gatau, the head vet lit up. To our astonishment a fax had just come through for ‘Traveller Tim Cope and three horses!’ Within seconds the fax was forwarded to us: ‘Permit for Tim Cope to travel through Russia to Ukraine with three horses.” It was unbelievable! The relief was palpable. Everyone in the office was elated. It hasn’t just been just me going through this process but many at the ministry of agriculture who have toiled with me along the way. Anyway, as it happened both the head vet from Kulsari (who had arranged the place for my horses in Karagai) and Dannier also arrived for a meeting and so it was at once a last hello and goodbye. There is still paperwork to do ahead. With these permits I can now be issued with certificates and get a customs declaration, then it will be a green light to Russia! That will take about two days. The national elections are on Sunday so I won’t be going anywhere before then. But with luck I will be in Russia within a week. The only thing that worries me is that I do not have a permit for the dog, Tigon. I had been promised passionately on the Russian border that it was not necessary to get a permit for him and that they would let me through- it was just the horses that were the problem. But now I am worried that I should have been issued a permit for him as well. I have got my fingers crossed- to go by someone’s word I have now learnt is sometimes not the right thing to do. I cannot understand now whether a permit is really required for a dog or not. It has been a real ordeal, and the ramifications of this long delay are still to be felt. My Russian visa expires in January so I will have to leave Russia, get a new visa and return again. My visa began on the 18th of October. This in turn means that my Ukrainian visa will need to be extended, plus the weather is now rapidly deteriorating into winter. But that is all yet to come, and for now I can sleep well with the knowledge that the journey can start cranking onwards again. A big thankyou to my good new friends Azamat and Dauren in Atrau who have made my stay both much more enjoyable and financially possible. Without them I may not have lasted this long in Atrau to see the permits. They have helped keep my spirits up, fed me, and put me up with incredible generosity. Bolshoi Rakhmet! Also a huge thankyou to Anna Luschenko in Russia who has been supporting me avidly. I understand that it wasdue to her phoning to Moscow on my behalf that the fax ever left the ministry and miraculously landed in my hands. For now I have to get my head down- still a lot to do, but I am a different person than I was this morning before all of this transpired. Tim. (CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE LIST OF DIARY ENTRIES)