my group (sign says "Siberia")

center of town

a light breakfast

my room

After the banya

The only surviving picture of my host and I (and Basya)

the infamous Basya


Igor and I

After doing some craigslist surfing and late night pondering about the future, I've decided maybe I should just become a famous blogger. So, after I moseyed over to my blog, and calculated that my blogging average is about 1 blog per 1.5 months, I realized that I would have to either write spectacular entries, or blog more. Then I realized all I was really looking for was an excuse to stay up really late, so I think I'll just write a single blog and leave it at that.

I'm home now, and have been for almost 2 weeks now. For those who have kept track of my whereabouts via this site, I'm sorry to have kept everyone in the dark for so long. Although, I highly doubt this accounts for many people (that is of course, before my fanbase spontaneously combusts and I become the most popular and richest blogger in the world...which could be any day now).

Igor is spending a little over a year in Seattle working with the EarthCorps, and we were conveniently able to fly out of Irkutsk together. This worked out great since I happened to have a 7 hour layover in Moscow and Igor stayed to entertain me. Sheremeteva (forgive my spelling) is undoubtedly the greatest airport to have ever graced the forests of Russia, and is 1,000,000 times better than the airport in Irkutsk...but still, 7 hours is a long time. Sure the check-in counters have aquariums in them, but Russian fish look a whole lot like American fish, and the airport itself isn't that big. Our first mission was to procure a wall outlet. That accomplished, we watched an episode of Наша Russia, wandered, and at last ended up in Sbarro's Pizza. There I sat next to 2 American girls, listened to American music and had my first pizza with sauce in 4 months. The pizza was good, but I chose not to talk to the Americans, because I realized sometimes we really do have annoying accents. Instead, Igor and I talked (in Russian, of course) and made Russian-style toasts. I've become a big fan of toasting.

From Moscow I flew to London. There I realized that British accents and prices annoy me excessively. I enjoy watching the BBC and listening to British narrators, but airport officials in particular have absolutely awful voices. Then there are the prices: everything seems normal, until you realize that the GBP is almost twice as valuable as the USD. I ended up paying about $8 each way for a bus ride to my hotel (a distance of about 2.5 blocks), which was considerably more than the customer service on there deserved. Then I got to find my room in the midst of an Indian wedding party, which are apparently quite common this time of year, since I got to leave in the middle of one too.

After my *cough*favorite*cough* airport Heathrow, I flew to my 2nd favorite airport: Seattle. I inwardly gloated as I reached customs and was able to enter the (faster) citizen's checkpoint. After 4 months in a document-obsessed country, you start to value shortcuts when it comes to legal processes. I had to have a little war with my conscience there about if I should declare honey as a food substance. I suppose it's technically a food, but as I read through the checklist, which included items like pork and food from underdeveloped countries, I had to consider if Russian honey really ought to be on that list, and if Russian chocolate counted. I didn't want to lie to the officers, but at the same time I didn't want my bag quarantined for honey and chocolate. In the end I decided to risk it, and checked the box that said I had no food. Apparently I looked honest, because I made it through. Once in the regular airport I was plagued by memories of a not-so-distant imprisonment there, back in December when it was cold, and crowded, and they didn't turn off the tvs at night, and none of the airlines had enough de-icing fluid.....

Finally after 2 days of travelling I made it to Alaska. I was relieved that my bags made it and that I had a ride home. I turned on my old cell phone (not half as cool as my cheap Russian one), and resumed my old life. Now I speak English, hang out online a good part of the day, and sleep past noon most of the time. Until August at least....then I'll go back to my busy scholarly routine.

Now for pictures:

(which will be in the next entry for ease of formatting)

About this blog

Good news: no more required disclaimer!
Bad news: I'm really lazy about posting when I'm not in Russia