Wednesday, September 12, 2007

RUSSIA – the story continues…

The first 3 days we stayed in Deepthi’s room (friend of Sam’s who hadn’t returned to school yet). When she came back, we spent 3 nights in Sam’s old room (his roommate stayed in someone else’s room for those nights) because we hadn’t worked out things for our room yet. Finally we ended up giving the commandant of the hostel $100USD so she won’t bother us about me staying here for now, because technically unless you are registered at the school I guess you’re not allowed to stay in the hostel, although there are a number of people with significant others, families, etc, who live here…and although we are trying and trying to go about things the honest way, and go through all the right channels, it seems that people just want bribes in order to do their jobs, and/or help out another human being.

We moved into our own room on the third floor. It was nasty dirty. We spent the better part of 3 days cleaning. We basically bleached it from top to bottom. (and that’s not to mention the bathroom). Sam went in full force there…gloves, mask, everything. It was impressive. I didn’t take “before” shots, but you’ll probably be thankful for that, because it was really gross, and you probably wouldn’t want to look at that. The “after” is quite nice though, (you can surmise then, if I feel the “after” is quite nice, how the “before” must have been). I feel like we have some semblance of “home” with a somewhat live able bathroom. (the ones on the 6th floor, and 7th floor, where we stayed before moving in our room were unbelievably hideous.) Think of the ickiest gas station bathroom smell you have ever smelled and multiply. The one here is non-smelly and I am ever grateful. Up till 2 days ago we thought we had our very own stall to ourselves, but then the Indian guy next door told us that he had been using the middle one. See, the way they do the bathrooms here is that there are 3 stalls. And 3 rooms on each side. 6 total. When we moved in the two side stalls both had locks – signifying that people from other rooms had chosen that one and split up keys accordingly. The middle was NASTY. No seat. Brownish black gook staining the bowl….GROSS, and it was Unlocked. That and the decrepit-lookingness signaled to us that more than likely no one was actually using this one. The guy who lived in our room before said that we could ask to get a key for one of the other stalls with the other rooms, or we could fix up the middle one since it seemed no one was using it. We chose the latter. So once it was all nice and clean and fixed up, we put on our own lock and it was just ours. Yay! That is, until this guy comes and says he had been using the middle one. Seriously? ICK. So we gave him a key and now we have to share with him. Sam put a lot of work into that though, so if this guy isn’t clean, we’re changing the lock!

Sam started classes today. We don’t have internet in our room yet, but we can usually just go up to the 6th floor to Sam’s old room and use the net there – his roommate from last year, Faisal, is still staying there and has told us we can just keep his key and come and go as we want.

People here go to sleep really late and wake up late. Which is perfectly fine for me usually, but has been hard to get adjusted to, since for so long I have been trying to get out of that habit and recently finally succeeded, only to have to switch again! Things are still in limbo, still working on visa stuff, still putting our room together. We have this huge couch and two big chairs that came with the room that are fine and all, but they are really BIG and taking up way too much space and I can’t wait to get rid of them. We know someone who wants the couch, but we can’t really afford to buy new stuff for sitting on, so we have to keep at least the chairs for now I guess. Once we get rid of those things we can finally put the room the way I really would like to have it, and we can fit a desk in for Sam, which with the couch plus two chairs would be very difficult. So hopefully we can move out the hefty thing soon. Until then we’re kind of halfway there. It’s ok though. Starting to finally look like a home, rather than a dorm room. For which I am thankful.

Today I made tortillas and we had faijitas for dinner. It was an all afternoon process – walking back and forth from our room to the kitchen. Actually, when I first went to the kitchen today there was a bird inside. Yes, and that’s actually not too uncommon. People leave lots of trash in the kitchen and then leave the windows wide open, so birds just fly in and hang out. Yes. Thankfully there was only one bird, ( I walked past a kitchen on another floor a few days ago that had 3 birds in it!) and thankfully when he saw me he made a quick effort to get out, and after only a few attempts of running into the ceiling and window, he made it. I was glad to not have to cook with a bird eyeing me.

I’ve been learning the Metro. I’m getting the hang of it, although at the beginning I thought I’d never get it. Its all in Russian, so it’s not exactly tourist-friendly. But once you ride it enough, you figure it out. And you learn how many stops to go and which line to get on. No one talks or smiles, people crowd as many as possible into metro cars and busses, and EVERYBODY STARES AT US.

I like Sam’s friends from the hostel. We have been going to his fellowship group which meets here at the hostel in Deepthi’s room. (Sam lived below her last year). the hostel is like a labyrinth of hodge-podge cultures. Indians, Arabs, Chinese, Vietnamese, Africans. Very….interesting. Oh, here’s one for the “pro” list, Lisa Jackson: all the Indian food I get to eat, from real Indians….Mmmm. =) We had Chapatti and vegetables the other night. And before that we had a night where a bunch of people brought different things and it was really good. There was something that the Indians called “cutlet” that was very tasty.

It’s fall weather here now. No changing leaves yet. But I am looking forward to getting to experience that this year! It is getting cold though. I am going to need to buy a coat soon. I don’t have one. Hopefully I can find a warm one that isn’t too expensive. In a week I have to leave to go to Helsinki to apply for another tourist visa. God totally provided a place for me to stay there! I am so happy and we are so thankful that we get to save like $100 that we would have had to spend on lodging. Jimmy D hooked me up with contact info for this Cedarville guy who just left to become a missionary in Helsinki with Greater Europe Mission. And he said he can hook me up with a place to stay. Very exciting. Especially since I will have to go there a total of 3 times by the time this is all over. Sigh. So maybe I can stay there a few times if it is ok with them. We’ll see how it works out. I’ll just be glad when all this moving about is over with. It’s very unsettling. I love to travel. But this is so much more WORK than travel. And it’s costly, which sucks. But, hopefully I can get everything arranged quickly for my second tourist visa and can relax a little to enjoy Helsinki a bit while I’m there. I’ll have the camera, so look forward to Finland pics. I'm having issues with uploading all the pics i want right now, so you'll have to look forward to more. Here are a few for now:

JFK Airport

Welcome to Russia

Thank God for pictures on products!


Amy McSwegin said...

I had heard someone say that in a specific culture,(I forget which one) there is a picture of every product on the bag showing you what it is... So when they came to America and they saw baby food jars, and it had pictures of babies on it, there were some issues...

J. Terry said...

The only thig I can say is "A Woman, A Bathroom, and A Dream!"