.....this time in No Man's Land on the waste ground between Russia and Ukraine. I arrived at the border on Tuesday morning and managed to get through Russian customs with not too much difficulty although they seemed to be fussing un-necessarily about an absent document. But I knew my Kazakh 'team', including Gadik the vet, had double-checked the border requirements with the Ukraine Border Commission, which was why I had horse passprorts and up to date veterinary documents specifying exactly which border crossings we would be using, not to mention £1000 worth of Ukrainian hrivna stashed away in my bag to pay the deposit we had been told we would need.
But after much toing and froing and sitting around in offices while the Ukrainian vet officer and other assorted officials shook their heads and made copious phone calls, I was told categorically that some documentation was missing. But with my limited Russian it was almost impossible to decipher what it was and how I would go about getting it. They directed me to drive back to Russia until I pointed out that my Russian visa was now defunct as I had officially been stamped out. I can go forward but not back, and the horses can go back but not forward, and of course I cannot abandon them. So I have been sent out onto No Mans Land while we untangle the mess. The vet official would not let me unload the horses, so they had to stay on board on Tuesday night, not unsurprisingly keeping me awake with their stamping. I feel a bit like Tom Hanks in the film 'The Terminal' except with no elderly male version of Catherine Zeta Jones.
I have desperately been phoning Matt and Rowena, the British Consulate, and Nadiya the Ukrainian contact given me by the British Council to see if we can find out , exactly what is required. It appears the horses need some sort of Certificate of Transit to enable them to travel across the Ukraine once they have entered.
Yesterday I temporarily breathed a sigh of relief when a new vet officer told me everything was in hand and he had applied for the certificate. He also gained permission for me to take the horses off the lorry, and they are happily grazing in the long grass at the side of the road, which eases the stress factor as far as I am concerned.
But today yet another vet official Andrei told me that it was not sorted. Eventually after much more phoning around it turned out all we needed to do was for my Kazakh based 'team' to get the Kazakh veterinary officials in Astana to send a request for the certificate, and it should be granted pretty quickly. They are on the case, and there is hope that it will be sorted out tomorrow.