Prekhodit V Gosti (Coming as a Guest)

In my two visits to Russia, the concept of "coming as a guest" is the essence of building relationships. There's no pretensions or preparations necessary for the event. The humble kitchen with its stools and tiny table, bare floors and walls allows a glimpse into the unvarnished, undaunted Russian Soul.

To enjoy coming as a guest, just be yourself, maybe bring some sweets or a drink to share. The tea is poured from a kettle, brewed strong, then diluted with hot water. Add honey, milk, and some sweet cookies.

The conversation comes naturally when hearts are warmed by the tea on a late Winter's night. Most Russians that I've known haven't had the money to go out to the movies or a restaurant. Why let a dark room or mouths filled with food get in the way of conversation and just BEING with each other? Coming as a guest means coming as you are.

Friendships are forged when one comes as a guest. Like Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea, after the third cup, you're family. When I went to the house of Elena, I could tell that she was a kindred spirit. She is the best friend of my host teacher, Tatiana. I warmed up to her quickly, too. We all would get together two more times in my remaining time in Korablino.

There is something about coming as a guest in Russia that builds relationships based on sharing nothing more than who you are as a person. With nothing to conceal in a bare kitchen, there's nothing to unravel a friendship's future with false pretenses.


Confetti Taste Testing


Well, there's not enough hours in the day to experience everything from the Russian countryside AND blog about it, so you'll have to forgive me for not writing more frequently. I'll have to catch up on all the stories I've experienced here when I get back.

Yesterday, Tatiana and I went to the market to buy some things for dinner parties we'll be having in the next few days. Inside of the buildings of the market were the candy (confetti in Russian) vendors. My previous trip to Belarus in 1997, I wanted to taste test every type of candy in a store. The poor attendant had to weigh each piece of candy, print a price sticker, and then total it all up for me to the whopping price of $1.

Things were just the same 12 years later! Spakoini nochi! Good night!
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Knee Deep in the Bank of the Oka


My host teacher, Tatiana, is a very adventurous woman. Visiting the backyard of Sergei Esenin's home, there are 100 steps to the bank of the Oka River. A scenic patio and beach invite summer visitors to barbeque and sunbathe. Somehow the same invitation does not extend to its winter visitors. 6 inches of ice and snow have piled up on each step, creating a treacherous clavalcade for anyone who dares to descend. Undaunted by the impasse, Tatiana says, "let's go and see that ice fisherman!" 300 meters in the distance. Ugh. I plod step by step, trying to freeze (no, wrong verb) blank yesterday's memory of falling from my mind. I have a death grip on the bannister as I go. A few times I fall down but thanks to my hold, it is only an exciting slip. Wha-hoo!

Finally I'm on solid ground, knee deep in snow. Tatiana sees a photo opportunity and takes the above picture. Yes, the beauty of the Oka River was worth the attempt.
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Walking in a Winter Wonderland


Greetings from Russia! Today we visited the village of Konstantinovo, which features a beautiful monastery and the home of Sergei Esenin, a young writer of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Here was a nice photo opportunity to visit with a beautiful horse, Masha, and his furry hatted owner.

Russia is cold and windy, but the people are warm and kind!
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I left my 3-y-o journal on my flight to DC. Thanks 2 God & United airlines for getting it back 2 me b4 I leave!


<b>Leaving on (another) jet plane</b>
Its sunny in Denver, and I've forgotten how dry & thin the mile high air is. Gasp!
<b>The journey begins</b>
I'm en route to Washington DC for my pre-departure meetings. I slept about 3 hours after repacking zzzz!

Countries I have visited

Where I've been in the USA