Unbelievably, I am halfway through my time in Russia.
There are several people who are leaving this weekend, and I am glad I’m not one of them. There is a lot left to do, and I think doing three weeks was the best choice. I will be ready to get back to the comforts of home, but with the satisfaction of not feeling rushed here to cram it all in.
Today was our second field trip, this time to another Golden Ring town, Rostov. It was about an hour away by van, and we left after the Russian lesson this morning (numbers 100-1000 and directions). Our first stop was the town’s enamel factory. We toured the museum (which was really just a room with a few cases in it), the guide explained the enamel-making process to us (1. Cut a sheet of copper to the shape desired, 2. Coat the copper with a glass powder mixture on each side, 3. Melt the glass powder. 4. Transfer a picture onto the glass using paint mixed with ‘technical oil’, 5. Bake and repeat as needed), then we got to go upstairs to the factory to see the workers making the pieces. We went into two rooms – one for the painters, one for the jewelers who were shaping the wire that frame the pieces. The end of the tour was, of course, the factory’s store. They were cash only, and I wiped out the rubles I had with me buying Christmas presents (and a bit for myself). I did not bring enough rubles.
Back in the van, we headed to the town’s kremlin. The buildings inside the kremlin have been falling into disrepair, so the town began renting them out. They’re now used a various museums, plus one as a hotel. We did not go inside any of the museums, but we walked around the area and took a lot of pictures. I’ll post a few below. Appreciate them, since they charged 60 rubles for the privilege of taking pictures.
On to the town’s monastery. The women in the group had to wear skirts and scarves for the day, since that was the dress code of the monastery. A guide met us there and she took us through two of the cathedrals inside the monastery’s walls – one built and frescoed (can that be a verb?) in the 17th century, and one built and decorated in the 19th century. It was very interesting to compare the artwork of the two and see the progression in fashion and in skill. They figured out how to paint depth, for example, in between the two, as well as trompe l’oeil. The latter one was decorated with plaster-formed flowers all over the ceiling, and where the flowers couldn’t fit, they had painted in fake replicas with shadowing underneath.
We also climbed to the top of one of the wall towers, where there was a grand view of the monastery’s buildings and the nearby lake.
After posing for a group picture, which our driver was kind enough to take for us, we drove to the center of the town for lunch. We were going to eat at the monastery, but it was a religious holiday today (Elijah Day, or something like that), so instead we went to a café in town. It was one of the better meals I’ve had in a while, although the ingredients were very familiar by now – beet and pickle salad (with potatoes), a regional soup called “salenka” (?) that was spicier and made with at least five different kinds of meat, a meatloaf topped with onions and potatoes and cheese, and the usual tea (I mixed a Theraflu dose in the cup instead). They also gave us little pasteries baked in the shape of walnuts that were filled with cooked sweeten condensed milk (dulce de leche, essentially). You know, that would be a wonderful way to get children to drink milk!
We got back to our hotel after a very, very bumpy ride (the driver took a different route, and the road’s disrepair got to a few of us – I had my ReliefBand cranked up to 3 for it). I found the laundry I had sent out folded neatly on my bed, as shown below. This was definitely costlier, but classier than sink-cleaning I had done with the faster-drying parts of my wardrobe. I sent out 13 pieces of clothes (three pants, including my jeans, and several shirts), and they came back within 24 hours clean and folded for 380 rubles (about $15). Hopefully this will tide me over until I get home. They really were not exaggerating, though, about how dirty you get at the placements.
Speaking of, I’m feeling a lot better today, so with luck I’ll be able to get back to work again tomorrow. I’m scheduled for the deaf kindergarten in the morning and a new placement (to me), the Kirovski City Camp, in the afternoon.