Life in Nicaragua
I am a big fat liar. Really, I am. Yesterday, I re-read the “About the Ex-Pats” page of the blog and I laughed out loud and thought, “what a crock of shit.” The honest-to-God-truth is that I didn’t love anything about this country during our first visit here, which ironically was two years ago to the day. The landscape was brown and dry. Mosquitoes feasted on my ankles. Chirping geckos kept me awake thru the night. The heat was so unbearable that we stayed indoors between 10 am and 3 pm. When we were eventually lured outdoors, it took us a minimum of 2 hours (but usually closer to 4 hours) to get anywhere thanks to pot-hole laden roads and ox-cart traffic jams. And of course…everyone spoke Spanish. There was no way I would be able to learn a foreign language AND make new friends.
While I am no Phileas Fogg, I am no stranger to travel either. From a young age, my parents ingrained in me a spirit for travel and an appreciation of culture. When my sister dropped her backpack halfway down Copper Canyon in the middle of The Sierra Madres, my mother turned to us with a smile and cheerily called, “Now isn’t this an adventure!”………..
Life in Russia
I must admit when I read the post above about the expat in Nicaragua I felt the freedom to finally write a post that is a bit more revealing about Russia and Kazan in particular. Interestingly enough I really did like Russia when I first came. I was so intrigued by what I was seeing. It seemed that no mater were I looked there was a Sky-crane hovering over a high-rise going up. I arrived in Kazan the first time in winter of 2011. The whole city was in the middle of preparing for the 2013 Summer Universiade. It was my first trip ever outside of the U.S. and was it ever an eye opener. I know we have all heard the stories that Russia is a dangerous place, bears roam the streets, beware of the Russian Mafia, and that scammers are everywhere. Folks, it just isn’t so. The other misconception is that Russian winters are just unbearable. Personally I didn’t think it was any colder than Minneapolis-St. Paul or Chicago for that matter.
So then we could also talk about how safe the city is. This part to me was a bit shocking, my then fiancée (which I had come to ask her to marry me) showed me a good part of Kazan. How did she do this? On foot, we walked everywhere. We walked down side streets, back alleys, just about anywhere you wouldn’t walk in a large American city. Honestly I’d never felt so safe. This is surprising because in the ninety’s Kazan was considered the wild west in Russia. The crime was rampant, gangs were everywhere. Even my students now have commented just how unsafe it once was. Today in Kazan it’s a much safer place. So compared to the poor expat above who had to suffer the heat, myself I had to suffer slipping and falling in the dead of winter, at least three times. We don’t have chirping Geckos in Russia but we do have car alarms that are going off all night long. The worst thing I can think of is the singing drunks at 3 a.m. in the morning, but other than that Kazan could be any city in the U.S.. The one thing that sets it apart from other cities is its history, but you will have to wait for that one. By the way, She said yes. We’ve been married now just a little over two years now. So Dear Expats, and anyone else who will listen. Russia ain’t so bad. Just remember to brush up on your Russian.