Monday, October 17, 2005

Weekend Madness…

Weekend Madness…

Today has been an emotional one for me –it is Sunday right now. First off, I’ve been very depressed because I haven’t been able to speak with anyone from home. I’ve tried several times to get a phone card to call home and when I finally did, I couldn’t get it to work. Hopefully tomorrow when I’m around people who speak English, I’ll be able to have them explain how the calling card works. At which point, I’ll call my mom as soon as I know she is awake. This lack of communication with people that I know well is probably the hardest part about being here, and is almost driving me to the point of wanting to call it quits and return home. I know that I shouldn’t think this way, especially since I’ve only been here two weeks but I’m becoming very discouraged with everything. I’m not picking up the language, so it’s hard for me to even ask for help from people. Then I feel like I have no control over anything, which is hard for me because I’ve been rather independent, my whole life. Now being as shy as I am, I’m forced to try and ask strangers for help. I never had to do this in the States and if I did it wasn’t a big thing because I didn’t have to worry about them not understanding me. Yet, I’ll stick with it for a little longer and probably find that it will become easier, especially after I have some verbal contact with family and friends at home.

However, the title of the post is “Weekend Madness” and now you’ll find out why. Yesterday, which was Saturday, was Kristin’s friend’s birthday, so they decided that they would throw her a birthday party at a local bar. I was invited and decided that it would be a lot of fun, and it would give me the chance to hang out with Kristin and her friends more. Kristin arrived at my room around 2pm, so that we could get my calling card and walk around the main streets here before heading back to her dorm (her dorm is about 30 minutes from where I live). Everything went well during this excursion and I’ve taken some more pictures to share with all of you, which you’ll see after this post. The pictures were taken in a park (I mentioned once before) and are just of the gardens and one of the statues that fill the park. While walking around this time, like always, Kristin and I were getting a lot of funny looks form the Russians –we feel that they are always staring at us and especially our shoes because they don’t wear tennis shoes here. The girls here all wear like 5inch hills, it’s a little scary, and the guys all wear dress shoes that are pointed at the toe. I don’t understand how anyone here can even walk a mile without killing over. Just another of the millions of cultural differences between us and the Russians; on an interesting note I think that Europeans and Americans are much more similar then we’d all like to admit…Kristin and her friends are exactly like all of my friends back at home, its often frightening how similar we all are.

Now to the party, because this is when the weekend really gets interesting. Kristin and I arrived at her dorm room about 5pm, which was when we had agreed to meet up with her friends. Her friends had prepared dinner, which was the best dinner I’ve ever had in my life. Why? Well because it was Mexican food and actually had a taste to it. I was in complete heave the whole time I sat there eating the fajitas. I swear that they were the best thing that I’ve ever tasted, but probably only because I haven’t had spices in a few weeks. It is possible that I scared Kristin and her friends because I kept making noises the whole time I was eating, which sounded rather naughty. Anyway, we finished eating and decided that it was time to get to the bar. In all honesty, I was already a little drunk because we had been drinking wine while we ate. Yet we got to the bar and ordered drinks…sorry, no vodka. There were around five bottles of Champaign that were being served to us, plus all of the beer and other drinks we were ordering. It was getting a little crazy, and defiantly a lot of fun was being had by all of us. In fact the whole bar was having a good time. Although there were many Russians there who we didn’t know, they started to celebrate with us. Of course they kept trying to talk to me and the only thing I could really say back to them, because of my lack of the Russian language plus I was getting drunk, was “I don’t speak Russian.” However this did not deter them from wanting to befriend me, especially one guy named Alec. At one point during the party, all of us were up dancing around Kjersti, the birthday girl, and when I went to go sit down after the dance, I was stopped by Alec. He was trying to tell me something, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I apologized for not being able to understand him, at which he left me alone…for the time being.

It was getting really crazy in the bar and it was full of smoke, so Kristin and I thought we’d step outside for awhile –never do this when in a foreign country, it only turns out bad! At first we were fine and no one was bothering or even talking to us, but then this guy named Sasha came up and started to speak with us. He was really nice, and could speak a little English. What neither Kristin nor I knew was that Sasha was friends with Alec and after only a few minutes of us talking with Sasha, Alec appeared. Well Alec was extremely drunk and I don’t think he knew what the hell was going on, but some how he decided that him and I were to be best friends. He came up to me and said, “I Alec, I your friend.” To this I replied, “Sure. Sounds good.” My reply didn’t satisfy him though, because he then went on to say that he and I were brothers. Now as I said, Alec couldn’t speak English, so we were having some trouble communicating but this didn’t stop him. He wanted for him and I to go for a walk…this was were I begun to panic. No matter how many ways I told him (I said ‘no,’ I said ‘net,’ and I even said ‘ni,’ which is Norwegian) that I couldn’t go with him because I was to stay with Kristin, he wouldn’t stop trying to get me to leave. After awhile of Kristin telling him no and me telling him no, he was okay with staying at the bar as long as I would have a beer with him. By this point in the evening, I was about as drunk as I’ve ever been and agreed with him only to protect myself –I really didn’t know what this guy wanted from me.

Well during this whole exchange outside, I almost lost Kristin like twenty times because random guys would come up to her and try “taking her for a walk.” You see going for a walk over here isn’t like at home, it isn’t about exercises at all. Through all of this Kristin and I just started to tell everyone that we were dating, so they would just leave us alone…it worked for the most part. The night was turning into utter chaos and I’m surprised that we lived through it. Anyway, I finally got Alec to agree that if he wanted to hang out that we’d do it in the bar, so we all went back inside. Alec bought us a round and we sat down. Well the only thing he said to me the whole night was that “James my friend. Alec your friend.” He told me this over a hundred times, I’m sure. I kept agreeing with him, even when he was being very friendly –you know what I mean, I won’t go into details. Luckily, Kristin and I were putting on that we were together, so she protected me from Alec and I protected her from all the old Russian males, who wanted her to marry them. The rest of the night Alec and I hung out at the bar, with him repeating himself over and over. So if you haven’t guessed, Alec and I are good friends, practically brothers.

Soon it was one o’clock in the morning, only about two hours after mine and Kristin’s buildings are shut up for the night. Since I’ve been here, I’ve never stayed out past curfew, but Kristin and her friends have often. In fact, the lady who watches their building won’t even let them into the building anymore after curfew, so we decided that we would try and get into my building. If we couldn’t we’d be sleeping outside, so we thought it was worth the try. She and I, after saying good-bye to everyone, left the bar. When I said good night to Alec, he wasn’t too happy but before he could even get up, we were out the door. To be honest, Kristin and I sort of ran from the bar because if we didn’t Alec probably would’ve came back to my room with us. We flagged down a car, which is the way you get a taxi here because random people do it for some extra money, and had them take us back to my room. Upon coming up to my building, it was completely dark and we didn’t know if we’d be able to get in, but we knocked anyway. The lady who is in charge of opening the building, we call them “grannies,” came to the door and let us in. Although she wasn’t too happy about me being out two hours after curfew, she didn’t fight about letting us in. It might have done something with me telling her, “ya iz Ameriki,” which you probably can translate. That sentence gives me a lot of power here. So finally, Kristin and I were safe in my room; we were away from all the crazy people who wanted to do god-knows-what to us. We soon passed out, Kristin on the couch, me on my bed –just so you don’t think anything that isn’t true…

I’ll never forget this night for the rest of my life, and Alec will always be my “Russian Brother.” This experience has got to be one of those ones I’ll always cherish, even if at times I was scared for my life. I’ve never had such an event happen in Pueblo; although, I’ve had many fun nights there –they’ll never compare with my night with Kristin and Alec. In closing, I do not endorse the use of alcoholic beverages or staying out past curfew, especially in a foreign country –you do so at your own risk!


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