The empty playgrounds of Pripyat tell no tales. They stand untouched since the day everyone was told to leave. And, like everything else in this once busy city, they are slowly being digested by the surrounding forest.
I stand at the fourth floor window of an abandoned Soviet-style apartment building, steadying myself for another photograph of the landscape. Behind me, the government official assigned to make sure I don’t trip over a piece of barbed wire and kill myself (no doubt causing a PR nightmare in the process) clears his throat.
“No good view here. Better upstairs.”
“OK. Upstairs then.”
Later, outside the Palace of Culture, we gaze at the yellow Ferris wheel. Timidly, he asks me to take a photo of him standing next to it. A few yards from us, near the trees, I see a fox. It looks at us, then goes on its way. I can hear it breathe.
We drive past the ‘Pripyat 1970’ road sign in silence. After the chemical shower I feel much better.