Monday, March 14, 2011

Moscow: Vodka, Scarecrows and Uno

Masha and I (Photo courtesy of Dmitriy Sharmorov)
The Mike Horn Project booked me a flight to Moscow for some reason, so I decided to use the free ticket and flew over four time zones to visit my aunt, uncle and grandparents. 

Moscow in March is a sad, sleet-covered, dreary, depressing city. Everyone is tired of the winter and wants spring to arrive. I spent most of my time visiting old friends and Masha (from the selection camp in Switzerland).

This is Maria (Masha)---I met her at the selection camp in Switzerland. (Photo by Dmitriy Sharmorov)
The highlight of my visit was Masha’s birthday celebration—a true Russian party full of at least six bottles of vodka, salted fish and techno music, that started at 2pm and ended at 5 am the next morning. The date happened to fall on “Maslenitsa”, a Russian pagan holiday during which you have to eat “blini” (a.k.a. crepes) and burn a scarecrow in a field as a way to banish the spirit of winter.

so. much.alcohol.

The party was slowly unwinding, so by 1 am the prospect of heading out in the middle of the night into -20 C to burn our self-made scarecrow sounded like a brilliant idea. About an hour later we were all drinking toasts to the good spirit of Winter, as we watched the ragged clothing and straw wrapped around the wooden planks begin to burn. 

A discotheque followed, along with more drinking, some guitar playing and finally by 4 am all fifteen of us were crammed in the small Moscow apartment kitchen drinking tea and playing an adult version of Uno. 

When I arrived in Moscow, I sent an email to one of the organisers of the Pangaea Project and asked if they needed any help with the Borneo Program, seeing as I had some spare time, and felt like it was time to make my way towards warmer climates after 10 months of being around snow, ice and glaciers. Two days later I had a ticket booked for Malaysia. I’ve decided that it’s best not to book a return ticket—life happens to change at the last minute, so there’s no point in planning too far ahead.

(In the Swiss Alps) I'm getting a little tired of always being cold....
 (Photo courtesy of Dmitriy Sharmorov)

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