So I've been in Russia for a little over two weeks now, and this past weekend I finally stepped outside the gates of Pokrovsky Hills, our little America bubble neighborhood. Moscow took my breath away in more ways than one: the smell of cigarette smoke everywhere, the bitter cold, the architecture and rich history, and the hotttttttttiiiieeeesssss. (Mostly kidding about the hotties. Da boyzez here ain't muh type.) But I do love to observe the Russians and listen to their conversations.
After walking around in circles trying to look like I knew what I was doing, I met up with my good friend Rebecca, who I met at church and who is coincidentally from the Richland area, at the metro station and we made our way to Ismailovas, a big outdoor flea market, on the metro. I had a really hard time not busting up laughing on the metro because everyone was so serious. The metro stations here are totally decked out and so beautiful except for the fact that they are pretty dirty. We walked to Ismailovas and it looked EXACTLY like the It's a Small World ride at Christmas. Really...identical. So we walked around blah blah blah looked at all the Matryoshka dolls and they had some really funny ones liiiiiike Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, John Lennon, Spongebob, CATS. Oh, the cat ones were so hilarious.
We were getting really cold so we went to get lamb kebabs and sit inside this little upstairs...place. The babushka who worked in there was seriously the cutest sweetest Russian lady ever and she insisted that we sit right by the heater. The food was really really good, but the lamb may or may not have been lamb...those places are notorious for serving dog meat. Like my RSP said, "As long as it's cooked well!" And the pickles, although out of place, were SO GOOD. I don't know what it was about those pickles. The place was so hilarious though because they had sparkly tinsel and dirty old stuffed animals hanging up everywhere and the most random mix of American music ever. The diet coke here is amazing. Better than in Mexico FOR SURE.
After the kebab men helped me down the steep stairs, we headed towards where the artwork is sold. You have to go up some stairs to get there and right next to the stairs were a bunch of men selling fur hats and they tried to bug us but we pretty much ignored them and said nyet nyet nyet. And so we walked up the stairs and there was nothing...I think the artists had already packed up and left for the day. So we headed back down the stairs and before I could even reach the bottom I was swept away by one of the hat selling men. Earlier in the day I had encountered a man who tried to sell me hats but he was not nearly as persistent as this young man. Basically they find a hat they think you will like (for me they always chose the light colors...to match my hair?) and then they motion for you to take off your hat and they then put their hat on you and marvel at how "very interesting" you look. Well this guy was all up ons. He kept touching my nose the way you do to a baby with a really cute nose. Since Rebecca knows some Russian I kept looking to her but she was talking to someone else. This scene unfolded.
Alexei (hat-selling man): Look in mirror!
Me: Oh yeah, okay. Oh wow this is very nice!
Alexei: Are you student?
Me: No, I'm a nanny.
Alexei: Ahhhhhh. (touches nose) (schmoozes up to me and snaps a picture on his phone)
I take off the hat to give it back to him. Now he and Rebecca are talking in Russian.
Rebecca: No, we can't. Sorry! To me: He wants to meet us at a cafe or restaurant. He wants your phone number...
Me: Uhhhhhahahahaha...(he is now standing with his arms around me and I am just laughing)
Friend of Alexei: They are good for eachother! (Motioning that we are the same height)
Other friend: Russia! America!
Rebecca was talking to the friend in Russian and as if she has just realized what he said, shouts: THEY SHOULD GET MARRIED?!?!?
Everyone: DA DA DA DA DA RUSSIA AMERICA
Alexei: Yes! Yes! We get married!
Me: Uhhhhhhhhh we could take a picture?
Alexei&company: Yes yes yes! Picture!
Alexei, as picture is being taken: Kiss me?!
And then we left. It wasn't easy. Alexei went down swingin', that's for sure. He even insisted on a second picture which I will not post because it is super uncomfortable. Prom pictures gone wrong. By the way, this was not a scary experience. Alexei wasn't sleazy or dirty or old or violent so mostly it was just funny and frankly I was just happy to be talking to a guy that wasn't my cousin.
Then we went to Red Square, people watched, played spot the American, went to the mall, had ice cream that was expensive and not good, went back home on the metro and waited for my shuttle that never came. Fortunately there was a Filipino lady (Josephine) there by the bus stop who works in Pokrovsky Hills as a housekeeper and helped me take the bus home with her. She was so nice. I love the Filipino ladies here...they are all so kind and loving even though their lives are so hard. Admiration x 1 million.
A wonderful day. All the people I met were so so nice. I was still cold two hours after I got home and I woke up sore on Sunday morning because my muscles had to work so hard to keep my body warm. But it's fine!
Not Alexei but very enthusiastic for a photo.
Imagine 10 of these booths all next to each other.
My personal fave.
Lamb? kebabs. The bread is so good.
Rebecca and tinsel and stuffed dog.
Engaged. Don't worry his hand is in my glove for warmth.
Wedding pictures in Red Square= dream life. You can't tell but her dress is gorg and so poofy.
St. Basil's (BAAAZELS). Please ignore the fact that I look slightly moronic.