29 June 2011

Castles, waterfalls, Russian villages in Estonia, and... Russia?

The next day it was a late started but we got started eventually anyways. We went and toured a castle, a waterfall that wasn’t very big at the moment (and also had a broken bridge), a Russian village, and the border of Russia. I think my favorite part of that day was the Russian city because it really reminded me of Moldova. The thing with this city tis that it was a military city during Soviet times, and it was actually blockaded too (like the country house). Except no one really knew about it… and didn’t seem to care sicne they couldn’t get in. Because it wasn’t far from Russia, they only spoke Russian there. So when Estonia became independent, the blockade was taken down but the city didn’t change. In fact, most of the people there don’t know how to speak or understand Estonian and they don’t seem to really care to learn it… because they don’t have to. We didn’t spend much time there, but we did stop at a restaurant (the directions were drawn on a cardboard piece) and had some traditional Pelemiid (my favorite Moldovan dish), and meat kebabs. Because there was only 1 cook, we all ordered the same thing to make things easier.

After lunch we headed to the Russian border. Chris spent some time in the military in the 90’s when things were still corrupt, and said he spent some time living in this city. He also told stories of when he’d go out with his other police friends when they had their time off and they dressed in their uniforms and would pull people over and bribe them for money. Eventually, though, the police force figured out everyone was doing this and they cracked down on it and got it stopped. So we got to see Russia. It was just on the other side of the river, and felt so weird because there we were: in Europe… which is completely different than Russia. We could see it. We could even through a rock into it (if we had a good arm) but we couldn’t go to it. A man asked me to take his picture and he was speaking in Russian, but I got the jist of what he was saying when he said something and pointed to himself and his camera and the castle on the Russian side (there was one in Estonia and one in Russia- right across the river). Then he said something else and I didn’t get it, so I responded in the first foreign language that came to my mind, which was Romanian. Well that started up a broken conversation because he actually knew a little Romanian from working in Moscow with all of the Moldovans. His had family from Turkey and Bulgaria, but grew up in Moscow and now works in Estonia. Pretty crazy story, but it was actually nice to be speaking Romanian again.

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