Thursday, December 16, 2010

This last crazy month! Part 1

Well I’m back guys! And I must start this blog the way that I feel I am always starting my blog posts: With an apology for not having written sooner, but I do have a good explanation.

So this blog update will be in 3 parts: Vacation, Family less, and New Family.

So I guess I shall begin my story with the first part: Vacation: November 8 – November 18th

Our vacation started with all of the kids from Uglich heading off to Yaroslavl so that we could get to Moscow. Let me tell you getting up at 6 am when it’s still dark to go and get on a COLD bus is not an easy thing to do! The trip all the way to Yaroslavl was pretty uneventful and when we got there we had to wait for all of the other kids to show up which wasn’t for about an hour. Once everyone arrived we got on our train to MOSCOW!!

That train ride wasn’t very fun. It lasted about 4 hours and the train was really low quality and the seats were sooo uncomfortable! But hey we were going to Moscow then down south so I couldn't complain too much. But, then when we got to Moscow it was raining! And it was cold! So we made our way into the famous Moscow metro, and let me tell you folks it’s just as beautiful as everyone says it is! But, the escalator is HUGE! I swear it was really steep and when you were on the top you couldn't even see the bottom of it! I was scared to ride on it! When we finally got to the other train station we had about 6 hours to wait until our train to Karinofsk (a small town in the Krasnodar region of Russia). In the airport Jenia, Bettina (another American) and I walked around and we got SUBWAY! It tasted good! It had been so long since I had eaten any “American” food!

When it was finally time for our train to Karinofsk we got on the train and took our seats and realized… these are definitely not first class tickets. The train ride took a total of about 30 hours. It was 2 full nights and one full day. Not that we were really able to sleep much because the beds consisted of hard slabs with an old mattress on top of it and a sheet that came in a package. Okay so about the train. They do not serve food on the train so if you want food you’re expected to bring it all with you when you get on or buy it when the train stops at the little stores that are at the train stations. Luckily we had been warned so we bought tea, sugar, coffee cups, some food, and other stuff to eat at the train station in Moscow. Pretty much for 2 days we lived off of tea and cookies (sorry mom: yes we had cookies for breakfast!) But we quickly realized that there was one HUGE fault in living off of tea… It makes you have to go to the bathroom A LOT! Which is not normally a problem until you realize that the bathrooms on these trains…are probably the most disgusting bathrooms that I’ve ever seen in my life, including port-a-potties! We were told that we were not allowed to use the bathroom for one hour outside of Moscow and when we asked why we were given probably one of the nastiest answers I’ve ever been given in my entire life.. when you flush the toilet.. it just.. goes out side of the train!!! Long story short, Jenia and me avoided that bathroom like it was the plague (because honestly it probably could have given us the plague!) and went as few times as we possibly could in that time we were there.

So we arrived in Karinofsk it was about 5 in the morning and our host families were they’re waiting for us at the train station. In my host family there, there was a brother, sister, mom and a dad. They were such a nice family! I still keep in contact with them even though it has been nearly a month since I have been back! Anyways the first day that we were in Karinofsk we were told that we would be attending (and participating in) a “Pushkin Ball” (for those of you who don’t know, Pushkin is a Russian poet). SO all the girls were fitted for dresses (they were dresses that I assume that girls in past years had worn) that looked a lot like REALLY fancy prom dresses. We spent the next two days there preparing for the ball, which for us meant that we had to learn 2 dances. They weren’t particularly difficult dances but the kids that would also be dancing with us had been practicing them for months! Finally the day before the ball we had our final rehearsal, and it was a disaster! None of us knew what we were doing but everyone seemed to think it was funny so it all worked out in the end.

The day of the ball! So my host family there had arranged for me to get my hair done so I did that then I went home and got into my dress! Which they were all convinced was beautiful and I thought it was a disaster but so was everyone else’s so it was okay! Once we got there all of us (14 in all) realized the extent of this ball! These kids take this ball more seriously then we take prom in the USA! There were professional photographers, everyone was in gorgeous dresses, everyone was very serious about their dances and what not. And the 14 of us were still a little confused as to what was going on.

They called us to start the dance and most of it was a haze for me but we did manage to do our dances (even if we did mess up … a lot!) and sit down and stand up when we were supposed to and while it was a really cool thing to be apart of listening to people read poetry in Russian and do classical dances for 3 hours gets a little long so I was very glad when I got to go home and take off that dress and SLEEP!

The next day all of us boarded a train to go to Krasnodar, which is the capital of the region of the south. It was just a 2 hour trip and then we went sight seeing in the city. The city was really beautiful and I know I’m going to sound like a typical teenager when I say this but the best part was….THE MALL!! They had a real mall there!! Like it looked like an American mall (if not nicer!). That night we got on yet another train to go to Sochi, Russia! And again for those of you who don’t know Sochi is where the 2014 winter Olympics will be!!

Folks this train ride, was the train ride FROM HELL!! First off when we first got on we noticed that the train wasn’t exactly the cleanest thing in the world (worse then the first train) and then we realized where we were sitting! Jenia's, Bettina’s and my car was right in the middle of a bunch of drunken old men! (Apparently in Russia its normal to be drunk on trains.. what else is there to do? ) Anyways at first we didn’t think it would be a problem because the first train there were also drunk men but they were a “we will stay in our car if you do” type..these ones were not! They kept coming over and trying to talk to us! For the first few hours we just kept pretending that we didn’t speak Russian when they came over so that they would get discouraged and not try to talk to us. About 3 hours in they figured out that we did speak Russian so they kept trying to talk to us! And they kept trying to grab our feet when we lay in our bunks thinking that it was funny. It wasn’t funny! Who wants to touch someone’s gross feet? We were very very glad when the train pulled into Sochi and we were finally able to get off that train! We were tired of having to use the buddy system just to go to the bathroom!

We stepped out in Sochi and it was like a different world! It looks less like Russia and more like Florida! Everything is bright blue, there are palm trees, the beautiful black sea (which is VERY blue actually!), we were all very surprised when we saw it. I never thought that I would see palm trees in Russia!

In Sochi the weather was so nice the 3 days that we were there! We got to see the sea while we were there and let me tell you it’s gorgeous!! I loved the black sea! Unfortunately it was too cold to swim (it was November after all)! We again stayed in families while we were there and went to the school almost every day! Their school was sooo nice! It was nicer then my high school in the states! Basically while we were in Sochi we relaxed, stayed with our host families, went to a few museums, saw the sea and just enjoyed the nice weather! It was really sad when they told us that it was time for us to go home and to get on that horrible train again!

But we got a good surprise! The train that they booked for the way back was REALLY nice! Or at least really nice compared to the trains that we had been on! Mostly the 14 of us hung out and slept but mostly ate the entire way back. I think all I did on that train was eat, and eat, and eat some more! We finally got to Moscow at like 3 am and we transferred to the other train station to wait the 5 hours for our trip back to Yaroslavl! Me and a few other’s ventured out to get some breakfast…we ate PIZZA! It was good pizza too!

So on the train back from Moscow to Yaroslavl is when the “familyless” part of my story starts. But I’ll leave that for Part 2 (coming VERY soon)

I’d again like to apologize for having this so late! I’ve had some problems (see part 2) with Internet and families and such. So I’ll get it updated really soon! And i'll try to do some pictures as well! Love and miss you all!