Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Escape from Siberia

Getting out of Siberia was no small feat, and involved a 14.5-hour journey that spanned 3,350 kilometers. At midnight (Omsk Standard Time), we piled ourselves and our luggage into Sasha’s Land Cruiser and said goodbye to the fortress. I ended up squashed between Vanya and Dasha, with a bundle of 2x4s jutting out in the space between Dasha’s and my heads. Sasha fired up the engine, lit up the first of many cigarettes, and we set off into the Altai darkness. As we dodged patches of ice, herds of animals, and head-on collisions, I realized it was still up for debate whether I’d make it out of Siberia alive.

This was not my idea

At 4:30am, Sasha dropped us off at the airport, and then continued on to Novosibirsk. We settled in for a 2.5-hour wait at the airport café, which was broadcasting news from Crimea. After watching unending footage of Ukrainian-cum-Russian citizens professing their love of Putin and Russia, I made the mistake of calling it “propaganda.” That pulled Nikita and Vanya out of their sleep-deprived stupor, and in their pro-Russia fervor, they told me they would be reclaiming Alaska next. Please, Russia wouldn’t stand a chance in a Putin/Palin showdown.

Я люблю Путина = I love Putin

Perhaps to get me back for my propaganda comment, Nikita and Vanya loudly referred to me as an “enemy spy” as we went through security. It seems this isn’t as egregious as saying “terrorist” or “bomb”—although I nearly lost my Nalgene, I was let onto the plane. Five hours of flying and 2.5 hours of cabbing later, and I was back in my cozy, Soviet flat overlooking Leningradsky Prospekt. I was so excited to be home that I showered Belka with kisses, but she put a stop to that by biting me. It's good to see I've been missed.


  1. And so does this mean you are the newest English speaking member of the family?!!

    1. I don't know...I'm going to see their Moscow mansion on Tuesday.