So on Labor Day, Monday, 2003, I began my journey to Moscow. Since I got a great deal on British Airways, I decided to stop over in London, as I had not visited there yet. So, my plan was to take a 2 week vacation–1 week in London, and 1 in Moscow.
Upon departure, I found myself so excited to return to the family I had written to for more than half my life. I rememebered clearly how exciting it was to receive the packages and letters from Evgeny, telling me about his life.
When I arrived in Moscow from London, Evgeny and Katya and Alex were there to greet me. Katya had grown from the 9 year old shy girl who couldn’t speak any English, to a 16 year old fiesty, English-speaking girl! Evgeny looked very much the same, and, I felt completely at home with them. It’s so strange with how you can hardly ever see a person, but really feel like you know them.
After our drive into the city, we began looking for my hotel. I wasn’t tired, as I had been in London for the week previous, and had no jetlag. We were driving really slowly, and made a couple of U-turns, when a Police officer pulled us over. Wow. Moscow is really full of scandal. To get out of getting a ticket from making an illegal turn, the driver, Alex, Evgeny’s friend from school, had to pay him a mere $15 to be ‘released’. This is very common as Evgeny explained. So, we found my hotel, Hotel Sputnik, and it was a typical Russian hotel, all with it’s grand customer service. When we were checking in, Evgeny explained that I couldn’t speak Russian, and asked who there spoke English. She said, no one. How can no one here speak English, you’re a hotel. Nope. No one. (no smiles, typical Russian demeanor for anything remotely resembling customer service). So, I offered tritely, how about Spanish?, German?, Japanese?, Swedish?? I mean come on! So, after this worry, the man next to us goes, “I need to have a taxi, can you call one for me?” The clerk next to our clerk said, “to what destination,” or something like this. My ears perked up, and we just looked back at the clerk, and Evgeny said, what about your coworker there.. it sounds like she can speak English. Then without smiling, the hussy said, “it was a joke.” Har Har. Funny.
So I was given the key to my room and we went to check it out. Dark and dismal, it was still quite homey with the most comfortable bed. I even had MTV Russia! So, nights were fun catching up on the music scene. After checking out the room, Masha was to come meet me. Fragile and delicate, Masha was greeted by Evgeny with a kiss and introduced to me. I felt so happy to be part of this wedding. Masha was very shy, and didn’t want to speak English, but this all changed in the next couple of days.
We tried to find something to eat, but didn’t have any luck, so I went back to my hotel, and Evgeny, Masha, and Katya all went back to their flat.