May 15. 2005
Women on a Mission: sunny, hot and humid
This is the first day my hands are free of blue ink. Not for lack of trying, mind you.
We're women on a mission today. We need sandals because it's damn hot. We also vow to find the internet cafe because we need e-mail. We realize we've acclimated to the city because we no longer seem to notice (or mind) how close we get to being run over.
Our first stop is Nike where it becomes obvious we're not in Kansas anymore. The store's music is most definitely American. It's loud, raucous and filled with expletives that make even me blush. They have some sandals but nothing we love so we move on. Adidas is our next stop. Wendy has more luck here, finding some she likes enough to try on. My handy dandy Berlitz Russian phrase book has a chart showing American shoe sizes and their Russian counterparts. The display sandal just happens to be in Wendy's size. I think it's a sign she was meant to have these shoes. A sales associate approaches to help us and Wendy manages to communicate with her. Bonus! The sales associate gets the mate to Wendy's sandal, we pay and then go. It's kind of too bad because the air conditioning is really really nice but we plunge back out into the sun drenched courtyard so Wendy can change into her new shoes.
There are no empty benches. Every one is taken by someone smoking something so Wendy opts to lean up against a planter to change her shoes. She takes off her sneakers and socks and sticks them in the sandals' box and we even figure out how to take the sales tag off the new shoes. She decides then she doesn't want to carry around the box and throws it away and puts the sneakers in the Adidas bag.
Next we try the ГYM store (GUM store). Here we find a shoe department that stocks Teva like sandals, which is what I've been looking for. I find a tan pair whose display just happens to be my size. I take this as a sign and buy them immediately. Wendy does the talking. I smile and hand over a bunch of rubles. I finally found a use for that 1000 ruble note I got from the bank. Yipee! Then it's back out on the street so I can change into my new shoes. As I do so, Wendy realizes that she forgot to take her socks out of the box when she threw it away. Oh well...less to bring home that way. Reducing weight every which way we can. Be it goldfish crackers or socks.
We wander around some more, searching in vain for this internet cafe everyone swears exists. When we get tired, we head back to the hotel. On our way, we stop at a baby pharmacy like store and scope it out for future reference. It's good to know there's a place close by with all our baby needs. Well, Wendy's baby's needs. For me it's my niece's needs. But however you call it, it's still good to know.
We head to the grocery store next. Knowing the security guard inside will be less than thrilled with our purchases, I stand outside with all our bags while Wendy goes in to score us some dinner. While I wait, a lady comes up and asks me a question. I tell her I'm sorry, but I don't understand Russian. So she tries again. I still don't understand so I apologize again and tell her I'm an American. She nods and says something else....I recognize some of what she's saying and the best I figure is that she's telling me she didn't realize because when I said (in Russian) that I didn't understand, I said it very well. Native like apparently. She says good bye and heads on down the street. I wave.
Our last stop is the liquor store. They love us here. Wendy buys as much Evian as she can carry. I buy a coke. We get
laughed at, probably because we're the only ones in the city who come in here and don't buy alcohol. Maybe if they refrigerated the Bacardi Breezers...
We get a message to call Katya who's taking a much deserved day off in the country with her friends. She says she and Sergei will be at the hotel at 10am so we should be packed and ready to move then.
No problem. We pack quickly and then find ourselves with nothing to do so we break out the goldfish crackers (we taking weight reducing very seriously, folks) and play poker. We both suck. We finally call it a draw. We watch The Life of David Gale and then surf the channels for the stripping weather girl (apparently, the hotter it's suppose to be, the more she takes off so we're figuring at this point she doesn't have much left to lose...which, by the way, isn't why we were looking for her...just curious is all.) but can't find her. We do find the pornographic inflatable doll infomercial and the Russian Orthodox priest call-in show so I guess it's not a complete loss.