Thursday, May 10, 2012

9th of May

Yesterday, on the 9th of May, I experienced one of Russia's most proud and patriotic days... I unfortunately cant spell nor pronounce what the day was called, so we will just stick with the 9th of May.  But, it is a celebration for the day that Russia defeated Germany in WWII.  It was, what is called a "Red Block" day which means that all businesses and schools were closed.  We unfortunately didnt get this same privilege as we still had to tend to our bodies... we had a morning sauna (again) and a meeting in the evening... but for the majority of the day we were allowed to celebrate this great Russian day!!
The 9th of May
The City Center
Lenin's Statue
Again, Ximel and I walked the distance into the city center which takes about 2 hours.  They have one main road that goes through the heart of the city which is normally packed with cars, busses, stray packs of dogs, people and trash... but yesterday it was closed off to all cars and became something similar to a "Last Thursday" but Russian style.  Every block there was a stage set up for Russian style dances, singers, and other performances.

A Russian war song....
A robot-techno song
Some performers
the Russian chicken dance
some bobushkas
These two men didnt have a stage, but they were by far the best performance we saw

There was bobushkas selling authentic food such as "perogees"stuffed with anything from "capoosta" which is stewed cabbage and onions to "cooritsta" which is chicken.  They also sold a Russian specialty drink called "kvas" which is a drink made from stale bread and it tastes like a mixture of a flat pepsi mixed with some non-alcoholic beer and stale bread.  It was very interesting.... thats all I can say about it, interesting.

They also had a challenge, for those Russians who felt bold enough, to put their strength to the test.  In order to enter you pay 150 rublies which is equivalent to about $5 and if you succeed you win back your 150 and an extra 150 rublies spending money. The challenge was simply that you must hang for an allotted amount of time (girls for 1 minute and boys for 2) from what looked like a regular pull up bar... the catch was that the bar twisted when you forced it to roll.  I know what you are thinking..."well that sounds pretty darn easy..." I thought so too... but you are sadly mistaken! This was not an easy task.  I unfortunately had spent my money on a glass of kvas (poor investment choice, I know, but I can now tell you that it was not good and I will thus be saving you from buying a glass yourself if you ever get the chance) so I didnt get to give this challenge a try.  But we watched many, many people give this their best shot... men who were very fit, very capable of hanging for 2 minutes from an ordinary bar, failed miserably at this.  One of the people in our group gave it a try and made it just over 1 minute before his fingers started slipped and the bar rolled... once you started the bar rolling there was almost no saving it... for those of you who have ever played that Mario Party mini game where it is 1 vs 3 players and 3 players try run on a barrel that the single player is trying to roll back and forth to throw the other 3 off.... it reminded me of that... once the bar started rolling there was no saving it.  But it was entertaining to watch.

There was also a scary moment for me and Ximel when I thought there was a riot breaking out because a large group of young people came running down the street with flags waving and military hats on.  I jumped to the side of the road and pulled out my camera.  They stopped their run in the middle of the street and spread into a huge circle forcing everyone on the street to the sidewalks and out of the way.  Then they put their arms around each other and started yelling something all together and then... this happened...

 Then after we had walked the whole City Center street we jumped on the bus and headed back to the base for a meeting and dinner.  The night finished with us making one last trip back to the bridge to watch a spectacular fire works show with some of the girls on our team! Overall Ximel and I probably walked 7 or 8 miles, but it was a really fun day and I am so glad I was here to experience such a celebrated day and important day in this culture!!

 Waiting for the fire works!




  1. Wow - really interesting and fun. did you ever find out what the cheer was all about? Let us know if you do.
    love pops

  2. Wow! What a day..what a celebration...what a walk! 2 hrs to get to the city center! I can just imagine the look on ur face when u drank the funny! You will always have a little russia in u! Enjoyed all the pctures..very festive compared to ordinary days:) Love u sister! Xoxoxo

  3. Thanks for reading again guys!!! Ya, pops. I found out that they would run down the street and stop at every block and do some squats in celebration of maintaining good health... or that was the loose translation I got. Keri I thought the first time we did the city center walk that it was much too long, but now it has become a routine thing and is not so bad any more... the 2 hours passes pretty quickly. But the kvas... that was a bit harder to casually cover up haha. Love you guys!!