«Everybody around the world likes the Russians!»

Alexander and Tatiana Chemodurov, young retirees and members of the Russian Geographical Society, for 10 months were driving a car through the Middle East, crossed African continent from north to south, the Americas from north to south and Russia from east to west. In total they drove more than 53.7 thousand kilometers and crossed 30 countries. The travelers made amazing encounters that helped dispel stereotypes.

«We were constantly facing breaking of stereotypes , – told Chemodurov. – We don’t know the world very well, we know it only from films and the Internet. But one stereotype in which we were sure was true. We knew that people everywhere likes the Russians very much, and it was confirmed. And we were proud of our country, we were literally overwhelmed by a sense of patriotism. ”

The expedition, devoted the 210th anniversary of the first Russian circumnavigation expedition of Ivan Krusenstern and the 195th anniversary of Thaddeus Gottlieb von Bellingshausen’s world tour, started on October 28, 2013.

As soon as they showed a Russian passport at numerous checkpoints in Africa, they immediately let the car pass without inspection. Foreigners who were traveling with the Russians for three days could not help exclaiming when leaving: “How good to be a Russian in Africa!” According to Chemodurov, the same warm attitude towards our compatriots was shown everywhere in the rest of the Dark Continent, both in South and North Americas.


Alexander Chemodurov
Alexander Chemodurov

Dancing with globe

Months of traveling could not do without some funny situations. For example, in Latin America the tourists happened to be behind schedule – the locals often organize strikes against the government’s course,  crowds were sitting on roads and blocking them. Chemodurov said that men in such situation could be negotiated – a bottle of spirits cleared the way. But the women on strikes had principles, and did not accept any gifts, so they needed a special approach. Chemodurov called it “dance with the globe.”

“When women were sitting on the road, I was taking the globe out of the car, coming up to them, and with the phrase “dear women of the East» started explaining in Russian, pointing at the globe, that we traveled around the world – said the traveler. – The main thing – is the attitude, it was necessary to make them laugh, and then they let us pass. If this did not happen, I was taking out the tent, sitting down beside them telling them to fed us. It worked flawlessly, we were let pass. ”

In South America, travelers faced a language barrier. Alexander and Tatiana managed to learn some words in Spanish, but the language is rich in dialects, which complicated the task. But the Chemodurovs were lucky: in difficult situations someone of the local people volunteered to help them and translated from English to Spanish.

Not for fun

During the trip, Alexander and Tatiana did not just enjoy the sights. The main mission of the expedition, organized with the support of the Moscow regional branch of the Russian Geographical Society, was a public examination of more than a hundred UNESCO World Heritage sites and objects, applying for inclusion in this list.

“There are not so many objects to be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some small countries have no history. So they are trying to include in the list objects that represent a minor cultural value. Perhaps, they are important for the history of this country, but no more, “- said Chemodurov.

In addition, the Russians planned to organize cultural support of our compatriots abroad and to create children’s mini-libraries. Before the trip Chemodurov had written to 29 Russian diasporas in the countries along the route. About a half responded to the offer.

“Russian diasporas in Africa and in South America are very self-contained. They live literally as “white people”: they have villas, security. Everyone who came there, settled well, “- said the traveler.

It turned out that a real problem for our compatriots abroad is to pass the exam on the Russian language. Chemodurov, a former employee of the Ministry of Culture of the Moscow region, promised to bring this problem to the attention of his former colleagues.


Photos of the trip
Photos of the trip

Road scrapes

In 10 months of the travel the couple received only five penalties. However, three of them – in Tanzania. In the cities of this country speed limit is up to 50 kilometers per hour. In the first town travelers were driving at a speed of about 45 kilometers per hour, but were immediately stopped by five inspectors, who claimed that the car was moving at Russians 62 kilometers per hour. Dispute did not help, and the Chemodurovs paid a fine. However, in the following cities the situation repeated one to one.

“We were warned in advance that on this road we would be taken penalties. We were even told how much to prepare. So the second time we relaxed and decided that it would be easier not to prove that they have broken the radar, and to pay “- explained Tatiana Chemodurov.

After the trip the couple is planning to sum up the experience of the road and write a special guide for car tourists.

As for the Russian roads, the only complaint caused the segment in the southern Urals, where the road is much narrower. The route from Vladivostok across the country could not help but impress even such experienced travelers.

“We were surprised, we imagined Siberia completely different. The nature of Southern Siberia was much like the nature of Moscow region “, – said Chemodurov.


The Chemodurovs want to prove by their example that traveling by car is not difficult, even if the tourists are of retirement age. His wife said that you can always start with Russia.