Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Step 4: Handshakes and Work
Today, we got up early to meet the local administration. The government building was not even a stone's throw away from the hotel, on Lenin Prospekt. It’s still named such because they don’t have the disposable funds to change the street name. The Mayor of Vytegra, Treasurer, et al. essentially welcomed our delegation to the town. Accompanying us to this meeting was a reporter for the local newspaper, which is covering our visit. The newspaper is called “The Red Banner”, which is also holdover from the Soviet Period. We also took pictures with the local dignitaries, one of which was used for our introductory article. The pictures below are not the ones.
After the meeting our next stop on our trip was the museum that we’d be doing our first bit of volunteer work during the course of our stay. On the way, we passed a church, which I learned was the original location of the local museum during the Soviet era, but has moved now that the property returned to the church. We were greeted at the museum, which is now partially housed in the ground floor of an apartment complex, by an old woman who was dressed in local traditional dress and carrying a round loaf of bread and a dish of salt. This was part of a tradition of welcome and hospitality. The guest tears off a bit of bread, dips it in salt and eats it. Our host commented on how we Americans take such small pieces.
We then toured the museum, which included geographical, zoological, and anthropological histories of the Vytegra area.
The Vytegra town was originally consolidated by the will of Peter the Great, who wished to use the area’s rivers for ship building. Other than monarchical will, the Vytegra area was built up by mercantilism. Also displayed in the museum was a collection of artifacts through the ages. The town of Oshta, near Vytegra, is proud that it was a front line area in World War II, the only one out of its entire region. There was a display under the twentieth century section for the female students who searched for landmines following the German retreat, many of whom were killed in their work.
We left the museum before we started our work and drifted towards another café. However, we decided to stop by the partially restored church. I didn’t get any pictures of the interior, save for a large icon, which apparently was rare, as it depicted in the center Christ at his Crucifixion, with the thieves and murderers (that’s how it was explained) around him. This large icon was painted blue and used as a sign by the Soviets, but is now restored.
We then climbed the bell tower for the church, which is still under the jurisdiction of the museum. It was so cold in the tower that there was an enormous amount of frost on the railings. Once we reached the top, I saw a fantastic view of the town.
After exiting the cathedral, I managed to get a picture of a militsiya jeep, which had been in front of the church since we'd got to the cathedral. I still a bit paranoid about police forces (I'm Irish, what can I say...). We ate lunch in a cafe, which was fantastic.
We returned to the Museum. Joanna and I were to start digitizing audio sources that the museum had. However, the digital recorders that we had brought with us from Michigan came without audio wires, even though Alina had apparently requested them specifically. So, while Alina and Joanna trekked out to go find some audio cables, I mulled about a bit, checking up on the other teams, and your all-basic-thumb-twiddling. Once we got audio cables (I regret not going out to get them, I was bored out of my skull) Joanna and I got to work. Over the time that we had left, we managed to record a tape of a Russian music performance, and recorded memoir of a commander from the First World War who’d met Lenin. This last source was odd; as it had been updated from whatever it was originally recorded onto a 70’s era audio cassette. The problem with this that it was recorded at a different speed than the conventional audio player, and the audio was played back at high speed (think “Chipmunk”).
We eventually packed up and went back to the hotel. I don’t remember anything fantastic about the evening. By the way apparently the phones we bought to use out here are bollocks. We are using a different phone plan than the area we’re in (Saint Petersburg, instead of North West region). Basically, it cost many more rubles to make a call than in Saint Peters. Another note about today: we tried to get an internet card so we could work on our presentations and make our blogs, but for some reason the money that Alina posted to the card hasn't shown up. Ah, Woe.
Bonus time! More pictures from the top of the tower.
Really old bell.
Emily a-laughing while taking a picture. I can't remember who she was taking a picture of, though....
Chelsey, Danielle, Pat-Joseph, and Bryn.
Pat-Joseph making the victory hand pose and joking with me about the cold.