Friday, March 8, 2013

On the Road

On the road to Vytegra, I was immensely surprised by how reminiscent it was for me. If I did not look at the language of a sign or what few cars I did see, I could almost convince myself that I was up north in Michigan. Just like in the Upper Peninsula, the road to Vytegra had many miles with no human life or no rest stops or places to eat. It was also very difficult to buy gasoline. There were a handful of gas stations but they were sparse and separated by miles and miles of road without life.
    Although it was similar to some more isolated parts of America, there was most definitely a difference from suburban and urban America. In America, everything is built very horizontally. Universities, gas stations, and shopping malls are not in completely centralized cities. They are seen all over the country. This is not the case in Russia. It’s urban planning is completely vertical. Though there are towns with schools that have small prospects with a few shops on them, most everything is located in two cities: St Petersburg and Moscow. In fact, native Russians who we met in the very beginning of our trip questioned our reasons for even coming to Vytegra. They asked repeatedly “What is there in Vytegra? Why would you go there?”
    We saw this happen in the stories we read over our course. When the government official went to the town in “On Official Duty”, everything resembles our trip to Vytegra. Going from one town to the next, the deputy has to endure this insanely fast-paced and dangerous horse ride. The place he is investigating and the wealthy merchant’s house that he is staying at are separated by a considerable amount. It is also pitch black and the man worries about how the driver will be able to see should anything come into his path. This, substituting our motor coach for his horse drawn carriage, is almost a direct parallel to my experience driving to Vytegra. Once the sun set, the only light being cast was made by the headlights on the bus. Without those headlights, I would not have been able to see out my window. The bus also felt like it was going very fast because of the conditions of the road. The ride was bumpy and at times uncomfortable and the texture of the road made the bus feel as if it was going 20 MPH faster than it truly was. Overall, I think the road trip gave me more perspective on Russia and its development than I thought was feasibly possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment