Monday, January 28, 2008

What a weird feeling...

Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think we would be going to Russia at any point in our lives. We do have a list of places we want to visit and Russia was never a consideration. Our agency had an English-speaking representative and a driver meet us right outside Customs. We got in about fifteen minutes earlier than scheduled so there was no one there yet. Nobody spoke English but let me tell you, there is one common word in our lexicons’…TAXI. Really nice guys but a bit persistent. Fortunately our driver and representative showed up about ten minutes later. It was snowing and really wet; they transported us in a van to the domestic airport about 20 minutes away.
The road from the international to the domestic airport was isolated and really creepy. I thought that any minute we were going to have a bunch of cars with men in black and machine guns come out of nowhere and attacked us after all, the driver and rep knew we had quiete a bit of cash on us and it was very isolated at 1:00 in the morning. I kept my thoughts to myself because I also knew I was wrong to think what I was thinking, and I defenetely didn’t want to say anything that would offend them. I was dying to ask them if we were safe though. I kept telling myself that I wasn't in Colombia and there was probably nothing to worry about but that really wasn't helping me much.
Once at the domestic airport we found a place to crash (no pun intended). The representative showed us where we would be spending that night...two very small chairs right by the security guard station. It was now around 1:30 and our plane was not leaving until 7:30 AM. She showed us how to interpret the screens, what to do and not to do, then she took off. By the way, one of the ‘not to do’ items was not to fall asleep because we 'could get robbed'. That was enough for me not to close my eyes for longer than a few minutes at a time. On the other hand, Chris set-up camp in no time at all and slept while I kept guard.
The airport was pretty small and isolated during this time. At first I couldn't understand why no one smiles. but as I became more aware of my surroundings I understood. Everyone has such a serious, almost bitter look in their faces and never say Hi. The bathrooms were the worst part. I have never gone so fast and gotten out of a bathroom as I did in this place. I don’t think that the time of day plus her ‘being robbed’ comments helped me any. I did see some interesting stuff while I was keeping guard. Not by coincidence, we were sitting about 30 feet from the security checkpoint. There were always three or four guards by it, one checking people with the gizmo they use to see why you the machine is beeping when you walk through it, the other one sort of looked at the television screen as the bags went through it, and the other two just stood around and stared at the people around, including us. I caught one of them looking at us with the corner of his eyes several times. I was listening to Shakira on my IPod and I wished I could have him listened to ‘My hips don’t Lie” just to see if he would smile for a few seconds. I didn’t dare do anything of course. The place was so darn hot that I wanted to go outside for a minute to cool off but was terrified that, for some odd reason, he would stop me and not let me back in. All in my head I’m sure. He didn’t speak a word of English. No one did. In fact, the few times I approached several people at counters and asked something in English, I got the ‘stay-away, I don’t have a clue and I don’t want to talk to you' look.
A guy sitting right behind us was evidently really bored after he woke-up from his three hour nap and started serenading everyone with his guitar. It sounded as if he was playing Do Re Mi over and over. It was bad enough to make Chris get up and pack-up the all the camping gear he had out and head for the Perm gate. At least he was happy and seemed to be enjoying himself. We had so much junk that we thought they would not let us through to the gates. Not the case this time though. There were all women at this security checkpoint and again, not a bit friendly. To top it all off, the woman at the checkpoint wouldn't talk; she would just point at all we had to take off or the bags we had to open. I kept thinking that our money belts were going to set-off all the machines but not a beep thank goodness. Unlike us, the money belts kept incognito during the whole trip. All these money they told us we had to take did us no good in Moscow. No one takes dollars and our agency had warned us not to exchange currency at the airport. I did anyway so we could pay to have our luggage shrink-wrapped... I guess this is typical on flights there as it makes it less likely to have items stolen from suitcases. All the Rubbles I got were not enough to also get coffee, and they are sure not happy to have to accept a credit card. No coffee didn't help my morning...


kelly said...

The picture of Chris sleeping brings back memories! LOL Bob had no trouble going to sleep in the airport while I sat up waiting to be robbed