We should be sending these entries to Brenna (our granddaughter @ BYU-I whose favorite person is her Granpa) to do a re-write. Her blog is so entertaining so we feel sorry for you who read this one cuz we are so not creative. This week has flown by although it has been a little slow at the office. We have been busy doing things like getting settle in, organizing and cleaning our apt (still much to do), and learning our way around. Everything is a new experience and while so similar, amazingly different. For example;
We went shopping yesterday across the river (Left Bank) at a big mall, anchored by a huge IKEA on one end and a Store called Ashons (Awahc in Russian) which was like a super Wal-Mart on the other. In between were stores like Levi, Ecco, Rockport, etc. You could have put this mall down in the middle of Seattle and not be able to tell the difference. It is quite amazing actually when you think that just 20 years ago these people had nothing, many were starving and upscale shopping was unheard of. We have met several people who lived through that time and their stories are amazing.
Shopping is a real experience. First of all if you think people are rude when you go shopping at home you really need to experience this to appreciate home. The difference here tho’ is that people are not trying to be rude – it is just the Russian way. I was standing in line waiting my turn when out of nowhere some lady bumped me out of the way and took her place at the front of the line. Apparently, you have to actually be talking to the clerk or doing your thing or else you really aren’t in line. Well, there really aren’t any lines anywhere – not even on the roads. You can drive where ever you want to (if you dare) so where we would normally have two lanes these people have however many cars can squeeze into the space provided. Sorry I am rambling – back to the shopping.
So you pick up your produce and then you must go to a scale where there is either a clerk or a number board. You put your item on the scale and punch a number or hand it to the clerk if one is on duty and the tag with the amount is printed out for you to stick on your bag of produce. Then it goes into your cart while you finish shopping THEN to the check out. Bulk items are the same process. So there are plenty of opportunities to “stand in line” or get booted out of the way. It only took once for us (in some things we are not slow learners) so by the end of the day we were pretty good at getting in and getting out of where we needed to be. Then we got a taxi (fortunately for us he spoke a little English) and headed for home. Total time – 10:30am to 5:30 pm. A very long day for a little shopping trip.
Everything in Russia is hard. Shopping wasn’t easy (but I guess it really never is) and simple everyday tasks that we take for granted are tedious here. An example would be washing the laundry. You can’t just put the clothes in the machine, set the dial and walk away to go do something else. Here one must attend to every detail. First we fill the washer with water. This is done by taking the shower head of the hand held shower and using the hose to fill the washer (which sits right by the tub so is quite convienient!!). The washer holds about the equivalent of 1 bedsheet and 2 pillow cases. Once full you add detergent and bleach turn the dial to about 6 and it starts agitating. Then you must take the clothes out of the wash water and put them in the spinner compartment and turn the dial to 2 to spin. Then you turn on the pump to pump out the wash water (you can speed this process up by using a pan to scoop out the water while it is pumping – this we have learned to do to help out the poor machine). Then you repeat the process for the rinse. Now the best part. NO DRYER. So we string up clothesline all over the apt pull out the drying rack and turn on the fan to dry clothes. Generally, this is an overnite process.
The people we have actually met have been very kind. We are not doing too well with our Russian so still struggle with the communication. The problem really is that everyone wants to speak English with us. Well, not everyone, but those who know a little English like to practice it on us. We would like to practice our Russian on them – but oh well. This city is beautiful and the people are definitely growing on us. We have made several friends and look forward to serving the people here for the next several months.