21 August 2005


It's Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow, I'll meet my students and their parents. Tuesday, classes start. For now, I'm at school. It's quiet. There are a few teachers attending to last minute details. The guard is downstairs by the door. It's just clouded over and my bnl cd has just finished. While I do want to beat the storm home, I also want to take a few minutes to catch up with all of you.

I arrived in Moscow without a hitch. The next day I headed to St. Petersburg on the train after my passport had been whisked to the US Embassy for amendments to my visa. The train ride was great. It was a little daunting going by myself--I wasn't sure when to get off!--but it all worked out fine. The seats were really plush. A man walked up and down the aisle selling chips and vodka. With a little deduction I disembarked at the right place.

And what a place this is! St. Petersburg is beautiful. The buildings are lovely albeit a bit shabby. There's a grace and a languor about the city. It feels as if it's just waking up after a good nap. The renovations being done everywhere make me think of a grand lady's maids scurrying around to ready their mistress for a late supper. It's a very clean city and is readily accessible on foot.

My flat is on Millionaya (that's pretty much how you say it...) which means million. Where else could a teacher live like a millionaire? The Hermitage, that grand palace, is about a block and a half down the street. It's nice to have good neighbours.

I walk about a mile to school over the Neva River on the Troiksky Bridge. I took pictures of my walk in and will post them as soon as I have them. (Yes, they're taken on film. Yes, I tried digital. Yes, I hated it. Yes, I returned the camera and am back to film.)

There's so much to tell!! I was eaten alive by mosquitoes (remember, this city was built on a reclaimed swamp) and had a mish in my flat. That means MOUSE. I now have a katyonak to deal with the mish. The kitten is named Helena (MND) and called Lena (v. Russian). She's orange with green eyes. She was a street kitten, so is rather feisty and in need of socializing.

People have asked about birthday presents. I had a great idea. Shipping is SO expensive that we shouldn't spend anything on gifts. If you have a paperback (lightweight, shipping rate is lower for books) that you've read and think I'd like, why not pass that on? I love history, biographies, historical fiction, chick-lit...most anything that's well-written. I will very soon be out of reading material. St. Petersburg has a small teaching staff so my book-swapping is much more limited than it would have been in Moscow. My address is c/o AAS SP, US Embassy, Box L, 10040 Helsinki, Finland. (They'll drive it from the embassy to the Consulate here.)

Post some questions and I'll do my best to answer quickly. For now, I'd best be off before it rains.

Dos Vidanya!