Last Week in Ukhta

June 5th, 2010

Last Sunday the English Club got it together for another baseball game since it was nice and sunny out. We found a better field to play on, and I tried to explain infield strategy, so we played a lot better than last time and had tons of fun. On Monday after hanging out in the office for a bit and writing an article for the website about my year, I decided to get a box to ship stuff home. I had to go back to the apartment first to get my wallet, and then I walked to the post office. I waited in one line for a few minutes, but was told I had to go to a different line to get boxes. I waited in that line for a bit, but as I was coming up to the window, the woman’s half-hour break started. So I walked to another store to pay for my internet and get some ice cream, then came back and was finally able to buy my box. Oh, Russia. At home, I immediately filled it with books – ones I brought with me, ones I bought, and several huge ones that were given to me as presents (Collected Works of Pushkin, Russian Cuisine, and Rocks and Minerals of the Northern Urals). I sent it on Thursday; it weighed in at just under 11 kg and cost a pretty penny to send, even though I went with land transit instead of air. They said it should take a month to get there – I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s longer, but in any case it should be home before I am.

Monday night I rented a bike and went riding with Lera and Stas. We rode around town a bit and also out on a dirt road along the river. Even in town the gravelly and uneven sidewalks with huge potholes make it a bit like off-roading. According to Stas, I don’t ride like a girl, which I guess is a good thing. It was great fun and beautiful in the country, but it made me pretty sore and got me even more mosquito bites (my legs were already eaten up after seeing Nadya off at the train station)! Afterwards, I was hoping to get home in time to take a shower for the last time in Ukhta. Buildings in Russia have this really great tradition where they turn off the hot water for a month or two in the summer to “fix pipes.” Ours was supposed to go off on June 1, but when I got home around 10 pm on the 31st, it was already gone. So I have been boiling water to awkwardly wash myself with this week. Good thing I leave tomorrow. I was also lucky enough to go to Natasha’s dacha again on Tuesday night, so I got to wash up in style in her banya.

Once I started packing it was as if a bomb had gone off in my room and my brain. Stuff was scattered everywhere and I didn’t know where to start with everything I suddenly had to do – pack, get rid of stuff I didn’t plan to take back with me, plan the last English club and my going-away party, look up trains, hostels, and sites for my travels, send my book box, give an interview for the UGTU TV station, write reports on my experience, do laundry, and not forget to say good-bye to anyone.

Last night we had our last English club. It was supposed to be an Open Mic Night, but that didn’t go exactly as planned. But anyway, I told some jokes, Roma led us in a game of “Name That Proverb,” and we listened to music, ate cake, and played games. Afterwards I went out walking with Yulia for the last time, then came home to rest before my big day.

Today I’ve got to wash my hair, sing, prepare for my party, and entertain everyone, and finish packing. Ahhh! Here is the map of my future travels. I’ll be updating when possible, but I don’t promise regularity anymore. I’ll be home on July 20 and will definitely write a farewell blog entry then!

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