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  2. The Diary (22 June 1994 - 13 July 1994)
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11 July 1994 through 13 July 1994

Today I finally went to the immigration office to register and pay taxes, like I should have done when I first got here! I've been so busy absorbing palaces and museums that I haven't had time to do the important stuff.

The immigration office was a typical example of bureaucracy. There were forms and lines, a lot of going around back and forth to do various things and a lot of people sitting in chairs, waiting. Most of all, it was very boring. Yala and I amused ourselves while waiting with Melanie and another little girl (just old enough to walk) who were running around the waiting room, generally acting silly.

Since that took up most of the day, the rest of the day was spent in Olga's apartment, sitting around. Some of Olga's friends came over, including Yala & Vlat. The other two people had a daughter a little bit older than Melanie, who was an absolute cutie. She looked like one of those little girls on commercials that say funny things about the product being advertised. She and Melanie were buddies and played around on the floor a lot. Her name is Zhena or Jena: it's that soft G/J sound, like in Beige or Gigi.

Today was my last full day in Russia. It was hot! It seemed as though the closer I got to leaving, the hotter the weather became.

I went shopping for presents and mailed postcards. The Russian postal service is so outstanding that Olga warned me it will take about a month for my letters to arrive, and that they might not even arrive at all! Oh well, at least I tried.

Shopping was incredibly hard, not because of the lack of places to shop, but because many of those particular places (mostly souvenir stands by the Catherine palace) were closed today! But I found presents for everyone anyway.

A 1000 ruble note

In the middle of shopping, we took a break and went to the Alexander park. I went swimming in the lake? pond? whatever. The body of water. It was so nice. The water was just the perfect degree of cool, and the air was just the perfect degree of hot to dry you off after swimming. We met Kate there, she was by herself! We were all a little shocked by that because she's only ten years old.

Yala made a cake. It was good, but the icing was weird. It was about 90% sugar and 10% beat egg whites. It was very sweet, and that's an understatement. It was actually crunchy with sugar. There wasn't very much on the cake, though. I ate two pieces and was offered a third but I didn't eat it.

I am very excited to be going home tomorrow, but I have to wake up at 6 AM to catch the plane, which is a definite negative.

The plane ride was a plane ride, and that's about all I can say about it. The best thing about it was the croissants. They were warm, something new for me in my experience with airplane food. And not only that, but they also actually tasted good. I also got two breakfasts, which equal together what I would normally eat for one breakfast. Again the chronic boredom and easy flow of my flights the other way. Everything was pretty uncomplicated, except for the fact that I had to show my passport about a kermillion jillion zillion times.


  1. That I didn't take more pictures. I had all these rolls of film and I only used one.26
  2. That we (my family and I) didn't think to order vegetarian meals on the plane flights. I had to pick all the meat out of my sandwiches and everything.
  3. That I didn't learn more of the Russian language. But there's still time for that.
  4. That I didn't spend more money out of my $200. I didn't spend more than $40, and I still have about 50,000 rubles.27

26 I still get harrassed about this.

27 Two weeks later the ruble crashed. Seriously. I still have the notes somewhere and I think they are probably worth about two cents now.

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