Siberia, Russia Part 4– Airport Follies and a Stern Lecture
In this continuing series, we cover my choice to move from San Diego to Chita, Siberia to be a professor at Chita State Technical University. We get the story aboard the flight from Anchorage to Khabarovsk, Russia.
Day 3 [Still]
As I lounged in my huge Aeroflot seat, the stewardess announced that we would be showing up in Khabarovsk in the next Thirty Minutes. Khabarovsk is located in the deep south of the far east of Russia on the border with China. It is the house of the Far East Military of Russia and is the largest city east of Lake Baikal. I was primarily interested in how hard it would be to discover a hot shower.
Well, this was it, the first day of my year in Siberia. I had my phrase book, electric blanket, tourist’s checks and a solid rush of adrenaline. Obviously, I had never ever really taught a class in the past, but I would deal with that later on.
We descended out of the clouds into a rainstorm. The view was still amazing. We were flying into a flat valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Everything was a deep green. A few cabins might be seen on the ground.
There was a very clear view of the airport as we banked through the valley to method from the West. Umm, aren’t airports generally illuminated? This one looked like a ghost town. The runways looked fine, but there were no lights in the buildings. There seemed a lack of activity on the ground. I had actually never ever backpacked from an airplane to the airport, but maybe this was the way it was done. When in Rome …
Finishing off an unbelievable flight, our Russian pilot set us down with a light touch. As we taxied approximately the airport, I might just believe that if the rest of Russia was as excellent as the flight, it was going to be an excellent year.
Blink, blink, blink … lights started beginning in the terminal! Regardless of disappearing than 50 feet from it, we were rounded up onto a transport. We started, did a wide u-turn and stopped at eviction. All I could think about was “The Gods Must Be Crazy.”
“The Gods Should Be Crazy” was an amusing motion picture launched in the eighties [no jokes about my age] The first scenes of the motion picture are biting satires of our contemporary way of living versus the native people of Africa. In one scene, a woman enters into her cars and truck, backs down to the end of her driveway and puts a letter in the mailbox. Ah, development! The journey from the aircraft to the airport couldn’t have actually been a lot longer.
The airport terminal was quite industrial. That is to say, no effort was made to sell you junk food, booze, ice cream, “Khabarovsk Acid rock Café” shirts or duty-free crap you actually didn’t need. Honestly, it was a relief.
Russian custom-mades worked pretty much the exact same way as custom-mades at any airport. You grabbed your bags, bummed pens off of complete strangers to complete kinds and stood in long line with other tired travelers. Ultimately, you got to the front of the line and tried to see how the individual standing eight feet in front of you did it.
Regrettably, my turn was also my very first opportunity to experience the Russian language. I passed my passport, custom types and visa through the little window. I also tried an innocent smile, which worked about in addition to smiling at an IRS representative. Everything went efficiently up until the custom-mades agent started speaking quickly and pointing at my customs form. Something was wrong, however I hadn’t a hint as to what. I turned to Grae with a quizzical appearance and he stepped forward to translate.
All international tourists quickly learn a basic rule. The “wait here” line at customizeds is sacred. To too soon cross the line is to commit an act of war. Russian custom-mades was no various. Grae was loudly advised to get behind the line and wait his turn. The customizeds agent then gave me a stern lecture. To this day, I cannot tell you if he was discussing my kinds or the weather, however the tone was absolutely stern. The lecture was capped by the universal customizeds agent expression known as “foolish immigrant … why did I take this task … I truly wished to be a painter …”
Ultimately, the concern with the form was solved. I would like to inform you that I took an active role in this, however I essentially stood there while the agent whined and aggressively marked the documents. I did actively hope that the stamp would not explode, but that had to do with it. Grae moved through customizeds without occurrence and we went out into the cool, damp air of Khabarovsk, Russia.
To be continued …