1. Introduction
  2. The Diary (22 June 1994 - 13 July 1994)
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24 June 1994 and 25 June 1994

Woke up at 3:00 PM! Went with Olga, Yala, Suzanna and Melanie to the tsar's summer palace (the Catherine Palace), but it was closed because it was too late. We walked around the grounds, which were like a big park. It was very beautiful, with a lot of trees and grass, statues, lakes. Also went into the church where Melanie was baptized with Suzanna. Olga and Yala couldn't go in because they were wearing pants. Went to play tennis, as usual, about 8:30. At 9:30 it started to rain, so we left. We saw a double rainbow in the sky.

Woke up at 3:00 again! I'm having trouble sleeping through the night (jet lag). I wake up at about 5 AM then fall asleep about four hours later, and then wake up in the middle of the afternoon. It's probably because of the time difference.

Today we are going to go to Melanie's godfather's restaurant. His name is Serge. He is the dad of Sasha (prank boy).

A lot of people come to visit Olga, and she visits a lot of people. She told me that she and a lot of her friends don't work, and that's why they have such an active social life.

Olga wrote down some Russian expressions for me. The ones I know the best are "goodbye" and "thank you." A lot of them are hard for me to pronounce because there are so many consonants (ie "stv"). Anyway, I'm working on it, but I'm not really confident enough to speek in front of large groups of Russian-speaking people!4

I feel kind of homesick already, but not enough to really want to go home. I think I just mostly miss the food and water. The food here isn't really bad, it's just different, and it's cooked differently. There are not the kind of luxuries I'm used to, like chocolate pudding, or soda. The water isn't really the best quality; in the bath it's yellow. Having never bathed in yellow water, I find this a little strange. I don't let it bother me too much. Olga boils water before drinking or using it for cooking.

It's also weird to have lots of people all around me speaking a language I can't understand. It makes me feel... I don't know, at a disadvantage. All my life, I've been around people I can easily communicate with, and now...?

Melanie and me in front of the restaurant

Went to the restaurant at about 5:00. It was neat. It was like a giant log cabin, with traditional Russian decor. I ate a Russian salad (cucumbers and tomatoes with oil and salt for dressing), a Russian pancake that was similar to a blintz, and for dessert, ice cream (yum). To drink, I had a Coca-Cola out of a bottle. I have to say, I was feeling a little uneasy throughout the meal: new people, new restaurant, new food. But as soon as I got my first mouthful of ice cream, all worries left. Ice cream never fails to make life more digestible.

The restaurant was very clean and very nice, and even if it did have animal skins on the wall, I liked it. Serge and Sasha served us food and sat with us at the table.5 They both spoke a little English. I thought it was funny when Serge apologized for not speaking English well, because here's me, I only know four Russian words and I'm not even confident enough to speak them!

After that, we went to their house, which was (whew!) big, and pretty fancy, too. It was three stories. Most of the flooring was wood. They had a ginormous back yard with a tennis court and a sauna. They were pretty rich, I must say! Then, we all went to play tennis, as usual, chauffered by Olga's friend (Simon?). It was fun, Suzanna is improving on her paddleball game. I'm starting to feel more at home, more comfortable.

4 The very first Russian word Olga tried to teach me was "hello", which is "zdrastvuyte." It took me a couple of days for my tongue to master that one. Fortunately, words got a little easier from there.

5 Also serving us, I think, was Sasha's older brother, who was extremely cute. I didn't get a chance to talk to him much, not that I would have anyway. Shyness had a complete choke hold on me at that age.

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