Twenty-four hours after making the decision to flee Kiev and Ukraine following an explosion and the start of the Russian invasion, Nevada County resident Blake Westman had already been through a number of challenges- and was not even close to crossing the border. After successfully getting a train to Levov, with his Ukranian friend, and her three children, the group was spilt up when women and children were allowed on a bus to the border, but Blake and other foreigners had to find alternate routes. The stress of Air raid sirens, a 300-dollar cab ride to nowhere, and hours in a van inching towards the border while being stopped and interrogated every 500 meters to a kilometer, were catching up with Blake. The 30 kilometers, stop and go ride- complete with interrogations and threats of being forced to walk- took most of the second night and didn’t get him all the way to the border. The passengers were dropped a kilometer from the border and had to carry their belongings across rough terrain before finally emerging onto the crowded pavement
He made his way towards what he believed to be Polish guards only to once again be disappointed.
While waiting in line, Blake and his new traveling partner from Norway, became acquainted with two young Ukrainian women and a male who was traveling with them. All of a sudden, the energy shifted, and the young man told Blake to follow him. Blake reached for his Norwegian friend, and that’s when he realized what was happening.
The crowd settled down and Blake and his friend looked for warmth, and others already their offered assistance.
The cold was taking its toll.
Blake also unsuccessfully attempted to charge his phone.
And the phone was too cold to take a charge.
His friend took a chance at purchasing a cup of coffee from a gas station- but it took over two hours because the line was not moving.
Then as the sun began to rise, Blake received a message of hope from a guard to begin lining up.
But…that was not quite the case…they hadn’t actually cleared the border… more challenges awaited the travelers.