Wednesday, July 30, 2008

USA - Preamble

My trip began with an early bout of drama when, on Sunday, Lufthansa went on strike.  So four days before I'm planning to leave, my airline goes on strike.  Fortunately, very few flights were cancelled, though I did run into a couple people whom had been rerouted when a JFK -> Frankfurt flight went kaput.

On Wednesday night, my last night in the country, I finally got around to doing my final pack.  I did a test-pack the night before, which prompted a shopping trip on Wednesday afternoon.  That night, when responsible people would be packing their bags since said "responsible person" knows he has to get up for an early-morning meeting tomorrow, I instead got a phone call from the Russian girls I've befriended the last couple weeks.  These girls: Elizaveta, Kate, Mariya, and Milana, are all from Kaliningrad, which is the little part of Russia off near Poland which isn’t actually connected to Russia.  I guess it’s sort of like their Hawaii or Alaska… except certainly not quite as much of an exotic destination.

So with this phone call, here is where responsibility is trumped by "let's hang out with four Russian girls", with the rational reasoning that it only makes sense to be with Russian people before going to Russia.  I was planning on getting back only an hour later, giving me time to pack my back & get to bed by midnight.  Instead, I returned at 2:30am... thanks to the Czech girl and the two Moldavian guys arriving & encouraging me to stick around a bit longer, and also the need to plan the voyages about America with the Kaliningraders upon my return.

In the weeks prior, the girls had been trying to teach me about Russian culture.  However, I feared that some of the words which they were teaching me would be of little use in regular conversation.  For example, the Russian word for “boobs”.  Here I was worried that upon being introduced to my host-parents, I’d extend my hand and greet them by saying “boobs”.  Fortunately, none of anything that they were attempting to teach me was setting in, as since I was in America: I just couldn’t mentally prepare myself to actually learn anything.

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