On this persevering with collection, we cowl my resolution to maneuver from San Diego to Chita, Siberia to be a professor at Chita State Technical College. We decide up the story aboard the flight from Anchorage to Khabarovsk, Russia.
Day 3 [Still]
As I lounged in my big Aeroflot seat, the stewardess introduced that we might be arriving in Khabarovsk within the subsequent 30 minutes. Khabarovsk is positioned within the deep south of the far east of Russia on the border with China. It’s the house of the Far East Army of Russia and is the biggest metropolis east of Lake Baikal. I used to be primarily curious about how onerous it could be to discover a sizzling bathe.
Effectively, this was it, the primary day of my yr in Siberia. I had my phrase ebook, electrical blanket, traveler’s checks and a stable rush of adrenaline. After all, I had by no means really taught a category earlier than, however I might take care of that later.
We descended out of the clouds right into a rainstorm. The view was nonetheless unimaginable. We have been flying right into a flat valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The whole lot was a deep inexperienced. A couple of cabins might be seen on the bottom.
There was a really clear view of the airport as we banked by means of the valley to strategy from the West. Umm, aren’t airports often lit up? This one regarded like a ghost city. The runways regarded high quality, however there have been no lights within the buildings. There gave the impression to be a dearth of exercise on the bottom. I had by no means backpacked from a aircraft to the airport, however possibly this was the best way it was performed. When in Rome…
Ending off an unimaginable flight, our Russian pilot set us down with a lightweight contact. As we taxied as much as the airport, I might solely assume that if the remainder of Russia was pretty much as good because the flight, it was going to be an important yr.
Blink, blink, blink…lights began approaching within the terminal! Regardless of being not more than 50 toes from it, we have been herded onto a transport. We began, did a large u-turn and stopped on the gate. All I might consider was “The Gods Should Be Loopy.”
“The Gods Should Be Loopy” was a hilarious film launched within the eighties [no jokes about my age]. The primary scenes of the film are biting satires of our fashionable lifestyle versus the indigenous tribes of Africa. In a single scene, a lady will get into her automobile, backs all the way down to the tip of her driveway and places a letter within the mailbox. Ah, progress! The journey from the aircraft to the airport couldn’t have been for much longer.
The airport terminal was fairly industrial. That’s to say, no effort was made to promote you quick meals, booze, ice cream, “Khabarovsk Laborious Rock Café” shirts or duty-free crap you actually didn’t want. Frankly, it was a aid.
Russian customs labored just about the identical means as customs at any airport. You grabbed your luggage, bummed pens off of strangers to fill out types and stood in lengthy line with different drained vacationers. Finally, you bought to the entrance of the road and tried to see how the individual standing eight toes in entrance of you probably did it.
Sadly, my flip was additionally my first likelihood to expertise the Russian language. I handed my passport, customized types and visa by means of the little window. I additionally tried an harmless smile, which labored about in addition to smiling at an IRS agent. The whole lot went easily till the customs agent began talking quickly and pointing at my customs type. One thing was unsuitable, however I hadn’t a clue as to what. I turned to Grae with a quizzical look and he got here ahead to interpret.
All worldwide vacationers shortly study a elementary rule. The “wait right here” line at customs is sacred. To prematurely cross the road is to commit an act of battle. Russian customs was no totally different. Grae was loudly instructed to get behind the road and wait his flip. The customs agent then gave me a stern lecture. To this present day, I can’t let you know if he was discussing my types or the climate, however the tone was undoubtedly stern. The lecture was capped by the common customs agent expression often known as “silly foreigner…why did I take this job…I actually needed to be a painter…”
Finally, the difficulty with the shape was resolved. I wish to let you know that I took an energetic position on this, however I principally stood there whereas the agent grumbled and aggressively stamped the paperwork. I did actively pray that the stamp wouldn’t explode, however that was about it. Grae moved by means of customs with out incident and we walked out into the cool, moist air of Khabarovsk, Russia.
To be continued…