The Polish-Ukrainian border of Hrebenne is only meant for road traffic; it can’t be crossed by pedestrians. Therefore, the traveller who wants to use it must get on board some motor vehicle before entering the restricted area.
When I arrived, on foot, on this beautiful snowy, sunny but freezing December morning, there was already an Ukrainian man standing there, waving at the cars to stop and help him cross. I joined him. Was he angry to see a competitor? Not at all: he welcomed me and we started talking (or as close as a talk we could have, considering my poor Polish). He seemed to have crossed quite often that way, and despite our little success at the beginning, he wasn’t discouraged at all.
‘Polish drivers’ he was explaining to me ‘almost never stop. We’d better trust the Ukrainian ones’.
He being Ukrainian himself, I didn’t give much credit to his words; but, effectively, during the half hour we spent there together, none of the more abundant Polish cars that passed bothered to even acknowledge our presence, while several of the Ukrainians stopped by us and, at least, gave some explanation why they couldn’t take us.
And indeed it was an Ukrainian driver who finally put me in his van and gave me the required ride through the border controls. My hitching companion had yielded his precedence to me.
Now, who says that Ukrainians aren’t nice?