Monday, February 28, 2011

My top ten moments spent with locals: I met them by chance and they are still in my heart

1. Albanian Nona: She dotingly tends to my cuts after a near-death experience hiking to get to her mountain home.

2. Russian Nadia: We wake in her Moscow lounge/bedroom giggling whilst recounting stories of table dancing away the night before.

3. Russian Boris: After tracking me down at Nadia’s place, he leans out his SUV’s window proclaiming “Russian and Australian family reunite HA HA!”

4. Georgian Goram: The morning after attending an infamous Georgian Table of dangerous toasting marathons, war-troubled Goram slings his arm around my ruined husband in brotherly camaraderie.

5. Georgian saviour: After being scared witless by the treacherous road up to mystical Tusheti I feel the opposite coming down with the Georgian Off Road Champion.

6. Turkish Yilmez: After dinner in his Amasra apartment I feel touched when helping him understand an English love letter from his Russian internet girlfriend.

7. Afrikaans Melinda: We feel elated - she calls me her angel - as we escape a toxic situation together in rural Freestate.

8. Namibian Jacques: He convinces me to drive while he hangs out the window, yelling to the desert his joy in being alive.

9. Kyrgz hostess: She tucks me into bed under dense quilts in her isolated yurt in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.

10. Serbian Maja: Four month pregnant, tears glisten as I read her email explaining a dream she had of when we would meet again; she is selling flowers in Zemun and I arrive holding the hand of a little girl.

This post has been entered into the Grantourismo HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition

Monday, January 31, 2011

In Russian's shoes

My boots were on their last legs after only a few months of travel. They had marched me around Central Asia, propelled by a desire to not miss out on anything.

Upon entering Russia my boots and I dramatically slowed in pace when good fortune led me to a man called Boris. An enigma of a man with a commanding personality, Boris offered me a ride to Volgograd with his family. Two weeks later I said goodbye to him.

Boris told me what I was to be doing. Without discussion I was taken to his Moscow soviet-era communal apartment and given it for as long as I wanted. I lived there within the tangled lives of my flat mates who had been together a long time. Boris would suddenly appear and tear off with me out of town. I stepped into his complicated family and would wake under a vodka cloud inside their postage-stamp sized flat or contrasting palatial Dacha (country home).

Slowing down and letting Boris take over allowed me to feel like I got to know Russians. I lived like a Russian, ate like a Russian, tried to speak like a Russian, and, of course, got drunk like a Russian.

I was also shamed into looking like a Russian. It was time to bury my almost sole-less boots and look the part in much more stylish leather. I left them in a pile of rubbish behind my flat, to solider on there forever as a part of me.

This post has been entered into the Grantourismo HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition.