O.k, so I haven't posted about this yet because it's been a bit hectic around here...and the pictures are on another computer downstairs in what I call the 'teen cave' and I don't like to go down there because it's kind of scary... But anyway, I can' t find the cord for my camera to download the pics of 'my special country', so we have to do it downstairs on the extra computer that has the pics already on it...So I'll post the story about that night, then I'll go downstairs and post the pictures that go with it.
Alexander came to pick us up and take us to Maryuka around 4 pm. Maryuka is the little country town that Alexander has a home at, and his next door neighbor is the 'other' Alexander, whom I call Rambo. I call him that because he is burly and tough and was a soldier in the Russian military until he was wounded in many places, that he DID show to me, BOTH times we visited him :)
Rambo speaks some English, so he LOVED talking with us. In fact, he wanted to be the ONLY one doing the talking...any time someone else would start talking he would say "stop it, stop it, stop it" then he would start talking again.
So anyway, on our way out to his house we had to stop several places with 'our' Alexander looking for some fish for supper. The little road side stands were all out, so we had to drive to some kind of outdoor market that still had some left. Alexander picked it out and some seasonings for it too.
The drive there was SO beautiful. We were there on our first trip, but it was in the middle of winter and not so pretty then. I LOVE the countryside, so this was a little peice of heaven for me.
When we turn down the road they live on we see Rambo sitting in the road waiting for us :) He was so excited to see us again and hugged us and said "my friends, my friends". We followed him up to his house, avoiding that mean dog again, who was choking himself on the chain as he tried to reach us. He showed us around his little farm, remember last time it was WAY too cold to stay outside long, so we didn't really see much. He had geese, chickens, dogs,cats,pheasants, and probably some other critters we didn't see.
His 13 yr old daughter and her friend were trying to sneak glances at us and snickering...they were very shy around 'Americans' and didn't want to come near us.
He called them over and introduced us, along with his wife, who was also not too keen on being around us :) I gave them some pop rocks and they went behind one of the sheds to see what they were, too bad, cause I would have like to have seen their faces when they tried them :)
Anyway, then Rambo told us he had a friend coming with a horse for us to ride....
Hmmm...I'm up for a lot of things, but I haven't ridden a horse in 20 yrs! But we'll see. Rambo said, 'lets go walk down the road and see if he's coming' so we all go walking down the road. A guy rides by on a bike and does the 'knuckle' thing to Rambo like they are friends. So, I said "is that your friend?" He shook his head and said NO.
We kept walking and soon someone comes out of their house and says something to him...he answers back like they are friends, so I say "is that your friend?" he shook his head and said NO again :) I'm starting to see a pattern here.... Then a car came rumbling by very fast with dust flying and I said "Alexander, your dog...is going to get run over" and he smiled and said 'NO PROBLEM, the dog before come out and get run right over, and NO PROBLEM, dog is fine" So apparently even the dogs are tough there :)
Then we heard clip clopping coming down the road. Around the corner comes this shaggy looking horse with this really big, grumpy looking guy driving an ancient looking wooden cart. Our ride. I was just glad I didn't have to get ON the horse.
The guy looked intimidating, I said something to him and he just shook his head, no English, and no smile either.
His name is Ivan and he is going to take us on a ride around Maryuka. Rambo gets out a 2x6 board for us to sit on in the back of the cart and says to climb in. There was no lady like way to do that, so I just did my best not to fall off as I climbed up. Rambo and Ivan were on the small board right in front of us. Off we went down the little dirt roads of Maryuka, where little old fashioned homes lined the roads, all with dogs chained up barking at us. People were coming out of their homes and waving at us, keep in mind this is a very small country town and I think word got around that the Americans were coming back :) So we kept clopping along waving, and trying to hang on, as our peice of wood was moving around. Rambo's dogs were following us in the dust. I tell you I felt like Princess Diana waving to her people! OK, maybe her long lost...very distant..second cousin...or something like that on my little wooden cart with the scruffy horse! ha ha ha. But still the same feeling, I'm sure ;)
We went to a beautiful church out in the middle of no where. It was unbelievably beautiful for the area. We went inside and took some photo's, the care takers weren't thrilled about us being in there, so we kept that part short. Then Rambo took us out back to the cemetary. It was huge, and well taken care of. He showed us the graves of his relatives, most all had treats like cookies and candy on them. And most all had nice pictures of the people on the grave stones. I was sort of surprised by that.
Then it was time to go, because 'our' Alexander was back at the house cooking us supper. As I tried to climb back in the cart, the horse got a little antsy...I almost fell right back out. I just sat down on the piece of wood when the darn horse jumped ahead and I went backwards and my feet went over my head! NOT FLATTERING in the least....so much for the whole Princess Diana thing...
We get the horse calmed down and when Rich stops laughing, he gets in and we go. Then the horse goes over a big rut and BANG the board that both Ivan and Rambo was sitting on BREAKS and they fall down to the floor!!! ON MY FOOT!!!!!!!
Now these are 2 very big men, and my ankle was under them. All I could think was #1 this is HILARIOUS and #2 IT HURTS and #3 and most important, we have COURT in the morning and if I break my ankle what am I going to do????
So Ivan scoots over and sort of sits on the side of the cart. Not Rambo though, he just stays on the floor of the cart talking a mile a minute as usual :) I did get him off my ankle though.
I was starving by the time we got back and Alexander had made a 'unique' combination of foods for us. Although he did put me to work peeling potatoes when we got back :) He put me to shame because he was so much better and faster at peeling than I was.
When it was done we all sat down to fish, mashed potatoes with egg mixed in them, salsa,eggs,and tomatoes. An ODD combination for sure, but I have to say, it was really good!
Then came the home made vodka, made by Galina, Alexanders mother in law. We all toasted to 'love and friendship' as Rambo likes to do. Many times. Let me tell you that boy, can that Ivan drink! Not little shots either, but BIG ones. He would turn a little purple after downing one, but then recover and have another. Our friend Nikola came from down the road, he was our sweet friend we met last time we were there. I was glad to see him.
We talked and laughed and enjoyed the evening for a long time, then Alexander gets up and he and Kola (Nikola) go outside so we all get up and follow. They go to the shed that has one little light on, (it was dark outside) and he plugs in a barber shaver and starts shaving Kola's hair! Now keep in mind that Alexander was the only one NOT drinking the vodka....and HE was the one doing the shaving. We started laughing at Kola, who apparently didn't realize he was getting it shaved right down to the skin. When he reached up and felt it he stood up quick and said ZIRCOLA ZIRCOLA which means mirror...we are all laughing and saying NO ZIRCOLA NO ZIRCOLA. Alexander made him sit back down to try and 'fix'it.
Ivan went in the house and came back out with a tray of...you guessed it, Vodka. You know, you can't be outside for a half hour and NOT have vodka! So he passed it all around, and by this time the whole hair cutting thing was FAR more hilarious than anything else we have ever seen...
I told Alexander to let me try to fix his hair, that I was a professional (no, I am not) So I gave it a shot, but Kola didn't want anyone cutting it anymore, so he wouldn't stay still. When the rest saw I was cutting hair, they all lined up for me to cut theirs too!
I shaved Rambo's hair right down to the skin. Now this is a guy that has hair on the sides and back, but NOT on top...so when I was shaving, a big clump of hair fell off and Ivan, who by the way got WAY more friendly as the night went on (vodka ;)) took the clump of hair and put it on the bald spot! Rambo didn't know and just kept blabbering, I swear he never shut up, but we were all dying laughing so hard with those big clumps of hair on top of his head!!!
This was the funniest night of my life. It was crazy. Yet so darn funny.
We all went in the house after a while when we couldn't laugh anymore. Kola didn't though, he got mad about his hair and walked home.
Before we left Rich asked Rambo if he had a 'water closet' which Rambo just smiled and pointed to the road. He wasn't kidding either.
We didn't get back to our hotel till 12:30 in the morning and we had court the next morning! But that was a night I wouldn't trade for anything.
I miss my friends.