The Russia Reveal
"As long as the sun shines, one does not look for the moon." Russian proverb
So we started our journey with the lowest expectations. At least I did. I usually thoroughly research the places I am visiting before my trips, but this time I did not have that luxury, courtesy of a hectic work period. Plus Russia was never a country I was interested in or on my bucket list. In my mind, it is intimately tied to politics, a least favorite topic of mine. So I did not have any significant prior knowledge on it. Maybe that was better, as it made the reveal all the more spectacular. The culture, history, richness, beauty, modernity, elegance, amenities, organization, cleanliness. Totally unexpected, thoroughly enjoyed.
Sadly though, we did not add one Russian word to our dictionary. Sure we can now read most Russian words. After an initial period where we experienced what I'd call language schizophrenia-most letters we knew all our lives were pronounced in a totally different way (P is pronounced R, H pronounced N...), we competed on decoding words on buildings, streets, menus, buses, everything. But don't ask what they mean as I have no clue. If you ask me what the "word" most used in Russia is, I would say a head shake, a shoulder shrug, an indifferent look, or a hand dismissal. We experienced so many of those and they can be unnerving. But every once in a while, colorful flower buds manage to pierce the snow on the coldest day. We did experience a few of these as well. One such instance was so memorable, it was actually worth its own blog (The Power of One, August 2016). In the end, sometimes all it takes is one true act of kindness to trump many acts of unkindness.
So, should our life journey ever take us back to the land of the gripping icons, sweet matryoshka dolls, and Pushkin fairy tales, we would be real happy to drop by again.