We’re here! I wrote a whole update on the events of the past week, but it was REALLY long. So for your sakes I've decided to post it in parts. That way you don't get bogged down and give up. You WILL read my blog...
So. The train ride. Although I must admit that travelling by train is my favorite mode of travel, two days of being on a train was a bit much. Our little room was right next to the end of the car, so we got the pleasant smells of toilet and cigarettes the whole way. We passed the time reading books and letting the kids run up and down the car with the other small kids that were there. Ilya was afraid to make friends at first, but after a few minutes there were about six kids running and screaming up and down the corridor. Some of the people were annoyed by the noise, but most seemed amused by the antics of pent up children let loose.
I had thought I’d be able to keep relatively clean, perhaps some kind of sponge bath in the restroom…ha! The toilets on trains are like glorified porta-potties, complete with pee all over the floor and bucket to throw toilet paper in. There was no way I was going to even try it. So we all arrived in Novorossysk stinky and greasy, but at least as uncontaminated as possible.
Our friend Ilya was there to meet us, along with his brother Lyosha and another guy Alexei from the church. We managed to get all of our luggage off the platform and into Ilya’s and Lyosha’s cars, and then we were off to our new flat.
I was somewhat skeptical about this new flat. Art had told me it was nice by Russian standards, whatever that means. I have to admit I was expecting the worst, but didn’t really care because I was so happy to be in my own house. We pulled up to the group of buildings where our apartment is, and I saw the typical Russian scenery—crappy block buildings thrown together in a hurry twenty years ago. Plaster peeling off the walls. A scary little playground that includes a rusty slide that terminates in a “sandbox” that is full of cat poop. Okay. No surprise there. I have lived in Russia before. We got out of the car and started to file inside, lugging children and boxes up the dank smelling stairwell. We stood outside the door of our flat, waiting as Ilya tried for five minutes to get the door open, then finally we were in.
I think it was a full minute before I could talk. Our flat is AWESOME. First of all, it’s huge. Way bigger than our place in Florida. It’s been remodeled so there is new wallpaper (I know, yuck, but that’s what everyone has here) and new linoleum on the floors. The bathroom is fancy shmancy, and the kitchen is just enormous for a Russian flat. And then my favorite—the balcony! Normally a balcony here is like a shabby little concrete slab jutting out with some rusty rebar for a railing. Some of the luckier people have slightly enclosed balconies. But ours is like a whole other room, right off our bedroom. I walked in and thought, “Ha! Art studio!” Fortunately my husband agreed, so my immediate commandeering of the balcony as my own wasn’t looked upon as some sort of greed. Which is probably is. But I am not the slightest bit repentant.
Anyway, the flat is great. It’s partially furnished so we didn’t have to worry about beds and couches and stuff. But Art had to spend the last four days running like a headless chicken (as we dorky Grigoryevs say) trying to procure the necessities. I forgot just how incredibly long everything takes to do here. And I was certainly a spoiled brat when it came to convenience when we lived in Florida. Our house was a two minute drive from a mall, Home Depot, Sams, the grocery store, Bed Bath and Beyond…etc. Now everything is at least a 20 minute walk away, and you can only buy what you can carry. I can’t even tell you how many trips Art made every day. The landlady only gave us one code key (the dealie that lets you in the building) so if Art goes out I have to stay in. Which means that we’re sort of stuck taking turns going out. As a result I haven’t seen much of Novorossysk so far; most of my days have been spent cleaning, cooking, and trying to make this big empty flat feel as homey as possible.