Sunday, February 28, 2010
I had wanted to wake up early this morning and explore Vasilievsky Island before breakfast at 8:30am. However, I had chosen to stay up late hanging out with the guys from my group instead. Of course, I’d have liked to see even more of St. Petersburg, but I’m satisfied with the exploring I was able to do. I’d love to return during the summer months, when the days are longer and the streets are more navigable.
As I write these notes, twilight is dimming and the wintry Northern Russia is growing dark. We have about three more hours until we meet our destination, but secretly I wish the bus ride would never end. I enjoy traveling in this manner – my own space and plenty of reading material and sightseeing to keep me occupied.
Perhaps I’m also nervous about beginning service in Vytegra. Unlike my fellow students, I speak no Russian. In the museums, I may be alright, but I’m especially uneasy about interacting with the school-aged children. Unlike in St. Petersburg where I could leave the group and adventure on my own, in provincial Russia I will need to call on the support of my peers more than since we arrived in the country.
We visited a cathedral first built in the early 16th century this afternoon. I feel more artistically inspired than ever in the provinces, however I preferred to stay with the group than commence work on my thesis project. The cathedral was great – it fulfilled a similar expectation that I had of Russia as St. Petersburg did. In coming here, I wanted to see images that I considered Russian – first the Europeon-like splendor of St. Petersburg, followed by the onion shaped domes of Orthodox cathedrals. Although we have an entire week remaining of the program, I already feel like I’ve experienced enough to satisfy me for an entire semester abroad.
The provinces are beautiful. The bridges spanning the wide rivers are quite frightening – totally uneven road make you feel like you’ll sink right through to the water beneath. And they’re high. Like the escalators down to the metro in SP, the bridges seem extra tall, perhaps a thousand meters above the river.
It’s colder here as well. In SP this morning it had started to rain and the ground became even more hazardous. But the area around the monastery, about 4 hours north east of the city was still a winter wonderland. It’s quieter here – something that the book Skunk: A Life prepared me for. It’s peaceful in the snow.