Postal Service in Siberia




expect amenity civilization
set off perilous horseback
taiga outpost ground (2)
worry remote big/bigger/biggest
minus trip (2) degree (3)
river Celsius remember
melt free (3) come back
alone last (2) equivalent
link (2) obstacle unpredictable
region last time sit/sat/sat
ice despite on his mind
mind block (3) wolf/wolves
era predict make it (2)
retire all over cut through
offer explain break/broke/broken
local tradition break down
follow vehicle hold up (2)
path good luck get through
deliver payment freeze/froze/frozen
deed thing (2) freeze over
ferry resident leave behind
Soviet rowboat bring/brought/brought
sacred canister leave/left/left
get by have to remain (2)
fill condition ground beef
beef journey abject poverty
rounds care (2) bad/worse/worst
ill reception patient (2)
shine transport helicopter
amid absence exploitation
frugal threaten lead/led/led
hunt recover natural resources
terrain wonder catch/caught/caught
scarce cut down get/got/got-gotten
timber ruthless shallow/shallower/shallowest
stark pass by disappear
crisis improve reminder (2)
ravage area (3) stretch (2)
vast row (2) feel/felt/felt (2)
char offering feel at home
earn cross (2) forget/forgot/forgotten
need pension along the way


Video: The Mailman



Kachut, Siberia might seem like the very last outpost of civilization. But it does have a few modern amenities like electricity and mobile phone reception.

Andrian Khromov is about to set off on a perilous journey to the remote villages in the taiga.

His biggest worry is the weather.

Andrian Khromov, Postal Worker: “I’m expecting problems on the trip. We had a whole week of minus 22 degrees Celsius. And some fishermen were able to cross the rivers at there.

But now they can’t come back, because the rivers are ice-free again. The ice melted because the weather turned warmer again.”

He has one last breakfast with his wife, Tamara, and then he will set off. All alone.

Tamara Khromova, Wife of Postal Worker: “Of course, I worry a lot. The road conditions out there are unpredictable. Sometimes you get through alright, but other times, you don’t.

And I sit here and wonder, ‘Did he make it or not?’”

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Andrian has a lot on his mind today.

Will this car, an old, Soviet-era army jeep, hold up?

Will his dog be attacked by a pack of wolves again, like last time?

He’s got one stop to make before setting out.

Andrian Khromov, Postal Worker: “This is a sacred place. There are sacred places like this all over. We make a little offering for good luck on the journey. So that the car doesn’t break down.

It’s a local tradition.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

We follow Andrian in our Buhankam, a Russian all terrain vehicle.

At night, our path is blocked by fallen trees —we have to cut our way through the forest.

We finally reach the tiny village of Tihrka. And the next obstacle: the river we have to cross isn’t frozen over.

The next morning, Adrian ferries the gas canisters he has brought for the villages across by rowboat, leaving his jeep behind.

The people here live from hunting and fishing. Normally at this time of year, the river would have frozen over a long time ago.

Adrian delivers the mail, pension payments and many other things to the seventy residents of the neighboring village, Chinonga.

Adrian is Nadya Karnakova is only remaining link to the outside world.

Nadya Karnakova, Pensioner: “Andrian brings me my medicines and everything I ask for. No never says ‘no’. He just brings me everything.

Yes, that’s our mailman.”

Nadya has to get by on the equivalent of fifty euros (€50) a month. Elsewhere the vereniki she is making would be filled with ground beef. But that’s a total luxury for Nadya.

Her neighbor, Nina Skornyakova, also lives in abject poverty. But she says that isn’t the real problem. The worse thing is the absence of a doctor, or any other health care in the village.

Nina Skornyakova, Villager: “If someone gets seriously ill, we call a doctor, who comes by helicopter. Or they’ll say ‘Bring the patient here.’ But how can we transport a person?

Recently here, someone suffered a stroke. How are we supposed to transport him on horseback?

After a few days, he improved. But his arm and leg never recovered.”

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Life amid the beauty of the taiga is hard. But even this frugal existence is threatened by the ruthless exploitation of natural resources, as hunter Fedor Safonov explains.

Fedor Safonov, Hunter: “This is the last place in the region where people live with nature. But they’re killing the animals and catching too many fish. The river is the last one with fish in it.

Everything is getting scarce. The forests are being cut down for timber. That leads to the rivers getting shallower, and the fish are disappearing.

We return to Tihrka, passing by the stark reminders of the climate crisis in Siberia along the way. In summer, forest fires ravaged vast areas. The charred remains of trees stretch for kilometers.

Despite all the difficulties, Adrian feels at home in Tierka. This is where he wants to live after he retires. He says it’s one reason he does this job. It’s not so much abouu the few roubles he earns.

Andrian Khromov, Postal Worker: “It’s the feeling of being needed. It’s nice to know that someone needs you. To see the shining eyes when you bring the pension. That makes me forget all the difficulties, when I remember that I’ve done a good deed for someone.”

In a few weeks time, Andrian the Siberian mailman will set off again on his rounds of the Russian taiga.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


Taiga, Boreal Forests. Kachut, Siberia is completely, totally isolated and cut off from the rest of the world. True or false?

Tundra, Arctic. Is Andrian Khromov a tour guide? Does he take tourists on excursions during the summer?

Alpine, Mountains. Does Andrian live with his mother, father, sister and brother? How does Tamara feel about Andrian’s delivery rounds?

Temperate, Four-Seasons. Andrian drives a new SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle). Is this right or wrong? Are both Andrian and Tamara atheists?

Mediterranean, Subtropical Dry. Are the roads paved and in excellent conditions? What problems or obstacles does Andrian encounter? Did he only travel with his jeep?

Arid, Desert. Do the locals work in mines and factories? Do they raise watermelons, oranges and grapes? Do they only eat fish and meat?

Subtropical Humid. Does Adrian only deliver (snail) mail to the villagers? The villages have hospitals and clinics. Is this correct or incorrect?

Tropics, Tropical Zone. Are things changing in the taiga? Are things getting better, worse or staying the same for locals?

Steppe, Grasslands, Prairies, Semi-Arid. Andiran works as a mailman solely to earn money. Earning money is the most important thing for Andrian. Yes or no?
Oceanic Humid Climate. Do you live in the country, a village, town, city or metropolis or megalopolis?

Island. Are there remote, isolated villages in your region or country? What do people do there?

Peninsula. My friends and I would like to live in isolated, remote villages. Yes or no? Would you like to visit remote, isolate places?

Hills and Valleys. What might happen in the future?

Rivers, Streams, Lakes, Ponds. What could or should people and governments do?

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