Although Ukrainian minibuses are frequent, convenient, and remarkably cheap (a four-hour ride costs less than $5), the biggest problem – aside from the lack of suspension which makes sleep a near impossibility – is that they have absolutely nowhere for luggage.
So far this hasn’t been an issue because all of our long-distance rides have had an available seat or two where we could pile up our bags. But on the bus from Uman to Kiev, this wasn’t the case. For the first time, every single seat was taken – and with an aisle that’s barely wide enough to walk through, you can imagine how ridiculous we must’ve looked scrambling helplessly for somewhere to sit and store our massive collection of luggage. But what could we do? It was the last bus of the day, we’d already bought our tickets, and for some reason the driver didn’t seem to care (or notice). “Get in.” “Umm, how??” “Get in.”
First we tried stowing our bags on an available seat in the front; then someone returned and said it was taken. Then we put them in the aisle; five people tripped over it while trying to get to their seats. Then we moved them to the back; they fell constantly on the legs of a nearby passenger. By the time we managed to stack them high atop another group’s of pile luggage (which was filling up the stairway to the rear entrance, preventing the door from opening), nearly half the other passengers had taken part in our little endeavor – whether it was passing our bags back to us, getting up so we could squeeze by, or scrambling to find an alternate location.
It doesn’t sound so funny now that I’m writing about it, but take my word for it, the whole thing was quite an ordeal. By the time we finally got rolling I was dripping sweat from repeatedly lifting the heavy bags and maneuvering them around the stuffy little passenger compartment…with thirty pairs of eyes silently mocking my goofiness.
But whatever. We made it, and were finally on our way to the capital.