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Forest Gym

1 Oct

After a year, Ben finally has a place to workout!

Tucked away in one of the forests is an incredible gym. You won’t find any elliptical machines or treadmills, but you will find bench-press barbells with tires for weights, a punching bag hanging from a tree, a lat pull-down bar attached to logs, gigantic carved clubs for hitting tires, and a log structure for throwing knives.

I tagged along with a book and camera one Saturday morning while Ben worked out with a friend. It was surprisingly busy, filled with the kinds of seriously intense people who I would expect to see ice-swimming in February (Ben and friend included), so I didn’t get too many photos. I did capture some of Ben beating a tire with a caveman club, though, so overall it was a success.

I am struggling to come up with words since it is both so well-built and so scrap-assembled. I think I will let the photos take it from here:


до свидания!


Like Riding a Bicycle

2 Sep

Ben and I went on our first Moscow bike ride this morning!

Our bikes moved across the world with us, but since they were part of the much-delayed shipment we did not receive them until mid-December.  Winter really did not seem like a good time to take them out for a spin and by the time spring rolled around we had a pretty standard routine that did not include bike rides.

We took advantage of the break in the rainy weather to get in a ride today.  Thanks to a broken refrigerator, we were a bit delayed in our departure, but still managed to avoid too many crowds as we rode the sidewalks literally around Moscow’s center.  This is the path that we took, except we entered the ring from a different location (we actually live very close to the ring, so it’s quite convenient).

There are a number of things that I have witnessed as a pedestrian that I did not fully consider when planning a bike ride here.  First, Moscow does not really smooth down the curbs as crossings, so it was a rather bumpy ride.  Second, when crossing many major roads, there are underground walkways to avoid putting in crosswalks/lights.  These are very nice as a pedestrian.  However, I am not particularly good at carrying my bike up and down stairs and there were A LOT of these crossings.  Finally, it can be ridiculously confusing trying to stay on one street in Moscow.  Streets change names here a lot and there are also many streets with almost the exact same name in neighborhoods.  There were times during our ride when we had to stop and think about which of probably ten different streets would keep us on the ring.

Despite the fact that I expect my muscles to hate me tomorrow, I am looking forward to doing this ride again.

до свидания!

Moscow Moviegoing

10 Jul

Sunday was an exciting day: we went to the movies.

This has been on the “To Figure Out” list for awhile, but apparently all we needed was for Wes Anderson to release a new movie.

The Moscow Times lists current showings along with the language format on their website. While big Hollywood blockbusters tend to be dubbed in Russian only, some movies can be found in their original language with Russian subtitles or, as in the case of one theater, dubbed in Russian through special headsets. Moonrise Kingdom fell into the original-language-with-subtitles category. Admittedly, there was still a concerned whisper of, “Ben, what do we do if it is in Russian?” right before the movie began. Fortunately, it all worked out since Ben’s response was a sighed, “I don’t know.”

The movie was FANTASTIC and the overall experience was great. We went to the Novokuznetskaya location of пять звезд (Five Stars) theater. We found it with little difficulty and managed to buy tickets and figure out the seating/theater arrangement easily enough. I don’t expect it to be an every day activity, but it was certainly a nice way to spend the afternoon.

до свидания!

Out for a Walk

27 May

With no destination in mind, Ben and I went for a walk yesterday afternoon to enjoy the beautiful weather. I think I have mentioned this before, but we love our neighborhood. We haven’t taken nearly enough time to explore, though, and hope to remedy that this summer. All of these photos were taken along our walk and the furthest we went was about 2 km/1.25 miles towards city center. 

до свидания!

Spirit Day

27 Apr

Two of the things that I love about working at an international school are the familiarity and the diversity. These may seem inconsistent, but today’s Spirit Day in the elementary school provides a great example of how they work together.

It was Sports Jersey Day which allowed the kids to get a break from their uniforms (and staff from the no-jeans policy!) by wearing clothing supporting their favorite sports teams. If I was still in SoCal, I would expect to see about half of the kids wearing Lakers jerseys (most with BRYANT written across the back), the baseball fans would be wearing Angels red with a few in Dodgers blues, some Ducks hockey thrown in, and a handful of of other teams from around the States.

Today, though, there were Moscow teams supported, in addition to Qatar, Latvia, England, Ireland, Germany, and many, many more. There were so many different sports and teams represented that it reminded me how many places these kids have either lived in or have family. They all have such unique stories and histories already in their short lives. It is such a different perspective than what I had at that age.

In the middle of all of that, though, was a fifth grader wearing a Florida Gators t-shirt. When I complimented it and told her that was where I went to school she said, “Oh yeah, the Gators are awesome!’ as if Gainesville wasn’t on the other side of the world. I could turn around and see those Lakers jerseys alongside Red Sox, Bears, Redskins, Yankees, and Patriots shirts.

I love working somewhere that allows me to share my own American experiences with others while learning so much about the world. It is a great balance of familiarity and diversity.

All this, though, and no one seemed to recognize my Ducks tee. 😦

до свидания!


20 Apr

Yesterday, I was carded.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate since we do not have ID cards, but this was the first time I had to show proof of age in Russia. I pretty much thought that if you were old enough to make your way to the grocery store and had money you were welcome to buy whatever you wanted.

As the cashier finished with the customer in front of me and put her hand on the embarrassingly large, cheap bottle of beer at the front of my groceries, I could tell she was about to say something to me and it wasn’t to ask if I needed a bag. My mind immediately started to run through all of the possible scenarios:

  • Is she going to tell me the lane is now closed?
  • Did the computer suddenly break?
  • Is she going to tell me they do not sell beer on April 19th when it happens to fall on a Thursday?

I would not have been able to understand her if this was the case, but any of these would have been less surprising than “паспорт,” which sounds the same in Russian and English: passport. I’m not convinced that she actually bothered to figure out what my age was when I pulled out a U.S. passport, but we went through the motions anyway.

I was extremely relieved that it was something simple enough to take care of without too many hand gestures and confused looks. The grocery store is one of my “safe places.” It is a Russian environment that I can navigate well without speaking the language. It is very unsettling when there is a change to the routine such as when a register has a broken display, so I don’t know how much the total is, or the time when the cashier insisted that I pay for half my groceries before he would ring up the second half.

On the positive side, I have reached the age where it make me feel good when someone thinks I am younger than I actually am, so that was nice.

до свидания!

Even the Cats Have Passports

12 Apr

For those of you wondering how the кошка is doing: Nebbie had her first vet visit this week.

The clinic where she stayed during our first few nights in Moscow was a great facility, but it was not easy to get to and no one spoke English: two very big hurdles for us.  We received a referral from a reliable pet-parent here (thanks, Laurie!) of someone who is bilingual and makes house calls, making the experience less traumatic for both Nebbie and me.  She received a kitty passport that will be used to track her vaccines, treatments, and examinations.  This will make traveling easier when the time comes for her to leave Russia with us.

The process was so easy – five minute phone call and twenty minute house visit – but having someone to call in case of emergency is one of those small details that somehow makes life seem a little less complicated.

до свидания!