Escape from Ukraine: Chris Hansen and his EWU family are closing in on the Slovakian border

For now, the refuge of Chris Hansen and his family is in an Airbnb in the city of Poltava, Ukraine.

After a daunting day of travel on Saturday, Hansen, along with his wife Victoria and daughter-in-law Sonja, rush to try to secure safe passage through Ukraine to the Slovakian border to escape invasion. Russian from the homeland of Victoria and Sonja.

Potential bus transport across Ukraine to Lviv may arrive as early as Tuesday, and they will know more on Monday. A possible, but costly, private car ride could also materialize on Monday, said Hansen, a longtime resident and coach in the Interior Northwest.

On Sunday, the trio were able to leave battle-torn Kharkiv via a minibus, but it was not the original transport they had obtained to take them through Ukraine. It was originally supposed to be a bus to Lviv on Friday, but this was postponed to Saturday. A cancellation that day was enough is enough for the trio.

“They canceled us and kept our money,” Hansen said. “We got scammed”

Instead, they secured passage on a “van”, as Hansen calls it, to Poltava, which so far has been spared shelling or artillery attacks like those they witnessed in Kharkiv from a fourth floor apartment. The trip was free, and this particular transportation company was “just trying to keep people away from the bombing,” Hansen said.

The trio then secured shelter via an Airbnb in Poltava, and on Sunday wandered around town to find transportation options.

“This town has seen no war,” Hansen wrote Sunday. “Quiet and quiet. It’s a brand new apartment and it’s really nice. And no bombs.

Russian jets over Poltava always make the scene unnerving, as Poltava is only 300km from the capital Kiev and just 91km from where they started their planned 20-hour journey to safety ultimate.

“I hear jets all the time,” he said. “The city sirens are going off, and these jets keep going to Kyiv, and then I hear them coming back.”

Since Hansen only speaks English, it falls to Victoria and Sonja to do the heavy lifting of fact-finding and speaking with the locals. He said it is frustrating that the language barrier interferes with managing communications to make arrangements.

“They don’t know what I’m saying and I don’t know what they’re saying at all,” he said of the Ukrainian people.

Hansen even had a Zoom meeting with his family in the United States to think about options for leaving Poltava. He said he contacted the US Embassy, ​​but they were unable to help him.

“My family went above and beyond,” he said. “My brothers Aaron and Eric, my daughters, nieces and nephews and others keep trying to find solutions – cars, buses, trains, whatever.”

Media scenes of men unable to leave Ukraine with their families were not a concern for Hansen since he is American – until now. Ukrainian men up to 60 – Hansen’s exact age – should stay and fight against the Russians.

It wasn’t a problem until they tried to board a train for Kyiv, a main terminal in the government-run rail system.

“Armed guards would only let women and children on board,” he said. “Even American men weren’t left behind.

“I really don’t want to go to Kyiv anyway,” he added of Ukraine’s war-torn capital. “That doesn’t sound like a good idea. I went to this station. No thanks.”

So instead they will be looking for bus transportation west to Lviv, and they have their names on waiting lists.

“It could be a 48-passenger bus that I’m guessing they’re going to put 60 to 70 people in,” Hansen predicted. “But it seems to be a reputable company.”

Lviv is nearly 550 miles along the main road through Ukraine. But they would still have to travel southwest to Slovakia, preferably to the Uzhhorod border crossing in Ukraine at Vysne in Slovakia.

At this point, the beggars can’t choose, and just getting out of the country is Hansen’s family’s overall quest. But it was in Slovakia that a colleague in the Alaskan fishing industry helped arrange transport to his home in the Czech Republic.

“Uzhhorod is the goal,” Hansen wrote on Sunday. “Our getaway car will be there.”

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