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Experiencing a whole new Russia

June 11, 2013

I started to update the blog yesterday at the airport. In fact, I got so far as to title it “Houston” and that was it. It just sat there until I got online today and changed the title of the blank post to the above title. =)

That’s how good I am at blogging. ūüėČ

The whole ordeal to¬†get back to Russia was quite the process, but now I am safely here, enjoying the sound of rain outside my window. (Enjoying it while I can since I don’t yet have to go take mile long treks in it!)

Getting back to Russia started Sunday night at about 10 pm when we headed to the airport with my suitcase and box both weighing in at 51 pounds on my home scale. I asked Tom to come along and sweet talk the counter people so that they wouldn’t charge me excess weight fees (since he’s good at stuff like that). I also wasn’t sure from looking at United’s webpage if they would honor Singapore Air’s 2 free bags policy. Well, the bags both weighed in at 49.5 pounds on the airport scale, so no problems there, but they refused to honor Singapore’s policy, even though my last flight booked through United (and partnered with US Airways and Singapore) didn’t charge me the fees. Now I know to always fly US Airways and not United. They charged me 100.00 for my extra bag for my 3 hour flight to Houston, even while Singapore was taking it the entire way to Russia for free. =(

Anyways, so that was the first bummer about the trip. Then we realized I was going to have a 12 hour layover in Houston (one I could have avoided but I was trying to fly Singapore Air so I specifically booked that flight since it was the only one available.) I was starting off the trip pretty exhausted, so by the time I landed in Houston at 5:30 Monday morning, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep. I felt so dizzy. I stopped to get some food and while sitting there in the airport I googled local hotels on my phone to see if there was something close and cheap and with a free shuttle. Red Roof Inn seemed cheap but they were fully booked. I stopped by the United Club to ask them for suggestions (since I hadn’t brought my club pass and therefore couldn’t hang out there, boo – the one time I could have actually used it, I didn’t bring it!) they weren’t super helpful but did mention the Marriott at the airport which they told me had day rates of 100.00. That seemed too expensive to me so I used my laptop to find more hotels. Long story short, after spending about 45 minutes calling and cancelling at several places (they kept booking me at hotels next to the other Houston airport, not Bush where I was at) – I was done with all of that and at that point couldn’t imagine just hanging out at the airport with the way I felt. So I asked someone for directions to the tram that would take me to the Marriott and as I was trudging along the way that I had been told to go, I passed the USO where a nice man told me I was heading the wrong way. He invited me into the USO to hang out and get some food, ha. When I politely declined, he walked with me to where I needed to go to catch the tram. He was so nice and helpful and that was a blessing. When I finally exited the airport and made it to the Marriott, they quoted me a price of 226.00! When I mentioned what United had said she told me that was only if they had day rate rooms available. Clearly I was¬†not¬†going to pay 226.00 to sleep for 8 hours. So I went back to the airport, back through security, and back to the terminal where the USO was since it was so quiet over there, and very close to where I needed to be that night anyways. I pushed two benches together (the kind with armrests so low you can’t get under them) and did my best to sleep. It was uncomfortable at best, but it worked, I did get a few short naps that way! The two USO guys (old guys) kept checking on me and asking if I needed anything. I never took them up on any of it since I felt back to be eating the soldiers’ food, but it was nice of them. The one man had studied Russian in college and was very interested in Russian history, so I think he enjoyed talking to me.

Finally, finally, it was time to board my flight. I had been in line next to a mother and daughter who were on their way to Thailand (by way of Moscow and Singapore- and I thought I had had a long day) and when I boarded, we found out that we were all sitting together! So while the flight was overbooked and obviously very crowded, it was sorta like sitting with friends, and that was nice. Who you sit next to can make or break a flight, haha, and thankfully they weren’t too bad. The daughter was a little odd, but they were nice enough.

My flight landed about 20 minutes late and since I hadn’t yet put my Russian sim card back in my phone, I was worried that the Reasoners would be waiting and wondering why they couldn’t get a hold of me. Customs and baggage took a bit longer than it did last time but thankfully Mrs. Reasoner had been stuck in traffic anyways, so just as I was up at the store getting my phone taken care of, and adding money to it, she called (Megafone had texted her that I had just added money and could now talk – how cool is that? She had tried to call me earlier and hadn’t gotten through, obviously). I love the way phones here work like that – although I can’t read the Russian texts so I never know what it’s telling me. If you call someone and they are out of range, when they are back in range, Megafone will text you that info so you know you can call again, etc.)

After trying to get my luggage out to her car (huge potholes in the road meant my luggage got launched onto the pavement a few times!), we finally got to the car and got it all loaded just as the clouds opened above and it started pouring. Heavy, heavy rain fell as we left the airport, and even though it stopped raining so hard after a while, it rained the entire way home.

When I first landed I could immediately feel the humidity and then saw lots of lightning as we were walking to the car. That combined with how¬†green¬†everything was (when I left Russia in May the trees were just starting to bud) made me feel as if I had just landed on a tropical island! (way, way different than when I left in May!) I still can’t believe how¬†different¬†it looks and feels here compared to when I left. I wonder if I would have noticed the drastic changes as much had I never left, or if they would have happened so slowly that I wouldn’t have been so surprised. I felt, again, like I had just landed on a mission field (humidity and tropical weather always makes it feel like that to me). I had expected it to all feel just the way I had left it, but instead it all feels new again.

Oh, and I learned something yesterday on my crazy run through the airport (while pushing a luggage cart so full I could barely see in front of me) – more people here speak English than I thought! I was in such a hurry to get everything taken care of so that Mrs. Reasoner didn’t have to wait, that I was simply speaking English to everyone and not bothering trying to do it in Russian. And guess what? We got it all done and I never had to use my Russian (although I did say thank you in Russian) Well, they didn’t speak much English back to me, but they did understand what I was saying, I guess there is a difference there that I do understand – I can understand much more Russian than I can speak. But either way it made me happy!)

Well, enough rambling. I am off to tackle what looks like the collision of a kindergarten classroom and a beauty shop. My room is a wreck right now, and I only half unpacked before I dropped into bed at 6:30 pm last night, ha.

Thanks for all the prayers!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 13, 2013 8:49 am

    Sounds like quite the adventure! Wow.
    I think I would have taken up the guy on his USO offer. ūüėČ

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