Thursday, May 27, 2010

The East Block

May 27, 2005

An Addendum. The East Block...Melissa's Story

While Wendy’s waiting for the doctor, Stella gives me the task of faxing the clinic receipt to the clinic itself in hopes of getting the much needed test results to the people who need them in order to get us (a) a visa and (b) home. We also have to find Room 312 in the East Block to pay for our room (We received a special letter under our door addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Jordan informing us of this). So I take a bunch of rubles, my room card and key, credit card, the hotel map that was in the guest directory and my handy dandy phrase book and head off.

According to the map (which, in my defense is not the easiest thing to comprehend), both the business center and the billing office are located in the east block (our room is in the south block). The business center is on the mezzanine level and the billing office is on the third floor. I have no idea how to get to the east block so I go to the front desk to ask for directions. The clerk’s English is infinitely better than my Russian and she tries to point me in the right direction. I try to do as she says but I get lost. I wander around a lot. I wander into a travel agent office and ask for directions to the business center. The clerk is annoyed that I do not want to make travel arrangements (if only she knew just how badly I did want to make travel arrangements) and yells that I am in the south block and I need to go to the east block. I ask how to get to the east block and she very helpfully points outside of her office. I thank her anyway and wander some more. Next, I try the casino employees (the hotel has several casino rooms…enter at your own risk.). They give me more details than travel agent lady but I am still hopelessly lost. I take the elevator to the third floor and start walking the square, figuring I'll eventually hit the east block.

It's taking a while. I'm worried that Wendy's going to send out a search party to look for me because I've been gone for at least a half hour now and I don't think I'm any closer to finding the business center than I was when I left the room.

I end up outside of the breakfast buffet (and note this location with glee for future knowledge) and ask the man in the coat check room for directions. He says he does not speak English so I show him the handy dandy Cyrillic side of the hotel map and point to my destination. He waves me off and I thank him and wander away.

I jump up and down with joy when I see the first sign for the east block. I get more excited when I see the post office and the bank (this is truly an all inclusive hotel) because these are locations on the map, not far from the elusive business center. I find it down at the end of a hall, thankful that the sign outside of the door is bilingual. I go inside and am hit with a blast of air conditioning. It's the first air conditioning I've experienced since I left home and BOY does it feel good. I'm wondering if the business center attendants will allow us to hang out here all day long when one of the attendants asks (in Russian) if she can help me. I point to my papers and say "Fax?" and then point to the phrase "I need to fax this, please" in my book. The attendant directs me to her English speaking counterpart. I give this new lady the papers to be faxed and the numbers to fax them to. She asks me where they are going. I have no idea really. I know one number is the clinic itself and I think a second number is Stella's office, but other than that, I'm clueless. So I make it up. She asks me where they are going and I start to repeat myself and she stops me.

"No," she says. "Are the numbers in Moscow or where?"

"Oh," I say. "Moscow."

I hope I'm right.

The attendant sets to the task of faxing and I set to the task of soaking up as much air conditioning as I possibly can. I spend some time looking at the computer keyboards. They're English board with red Cyrillic characters in the upper left hand corner. Neat.

When the faxes have all gone though, I am handed a piece of paper with the amount due on it. This is helpful because I don't know my numbers past ten. It costs 70 rubles. I pay and thank the ladies and reluctantly leave the business center. But I have a hotel room to pay for so I have to go.

The billing office is a small (un air conditioned) room. A lady sits behind a desk working at a computer when I come in. I tell her good morning and hand her my letter. She invites me to sit down while she gets everything in order. The room is hotter than hot. I think our room is cooler. Or maybe I'm suffering from air conditioning withdrawal already. The lady asks if we are paying for two nights. I tell her yes because our current plan is if we get stuck here longer than two nights, we're demanding to move to a hotel with amenities that would allow us to feed the baby. And a television that you don't need a degree in rocket science to work (it's really hard, I swear!). Not necessarily in that order. Just kidding. Anyway...the lady tells me the total, first in rubles and then a rough conversion into American dollars. I'm prepared for this as Sam has already paid for their stay and told me how much it was. I tell her that's fine and hand her my credit card (Visa. It really is every where you want to be. Unless you're in Ekaterinburg. Then Visa won't do you much good.). I sign about twelve pieces of paper and then I'm free to go. I thank her and start working my way back to the south block.

When I hit the front desk, I stop off at the little store in the lobby to buy still drinking water, cold Evian for Wendy and a coke for me. Unfortunately, they don't have any coke so I have to get pepsi instead. That's me. Always willing to compromise. Then, after showing the lobby guards my hotel card, I go back upstairs.

The End.

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