Russia, March 22, 1999
Spring is here cuz it is Dacha Time again!
|Snow is still on the ground, the trees are still brown, and
I still haven't seen the first mini-skirt of spring, but the 1999
Dacha Season started this weekend!
Yesterday I went to the Australian Embassy dacha on an island in the Moscow River, the same island I go to in the summer, but this time of year no one is swimming in the river, it is still frozen! That did not stop me from enjoying myself though. I took along a football (the American variety) and proceeded to teach a young Russian lad how to throw it football and rugby styles.
It was kinda hard trying to get him to throw it correctly. At first, watching him throw, 'like a girl,' I told him to throw it like you throw a baseball. He just looked at me funny. That is when I realized how throw-centric major American sports are. After a bit, he was throwing okay, but still didn't get the elbow leverage concept that gives a thrown object its speed and distance. Oh well, I don't think he will need to be tossing a ball, spear, or grenade anytime soon.
Oh, of grenades, this whole Kosovo thing is making news here. The Russians, in a effort to regain a bit of the respect Russia as a whole, and their Army in particular, has lost, are really trying to make a stink out of the NATO bombing of Serbia. There are picketers around the US Embassy, and at the dacha, we talked at length about what it all means and why NATO is there. I still don't see why we can't just leave them to kill each other off. Serbia does not have any proven oil, gas, or precious metals deposits and they sure are not a major trading partner, so why are they worth sending million dollar cruise missiles to whack stone huts? And, they've been killing each other since the time of the Macedonians, why should we try and stop them now?
Anyway, after this long conversation, it was time to go for a walk to try and burn off all the food and beer we consumed. We walked all over the island, checking out what the ice fishermen were catching (nothing), what the early picnickers were eating (shashlik, of course), and what will become the nude beach in summer (nice!)...
Once we returned to the dacha, and had another wandering conversation, it was time to go. I caught a ride with these two US Embassy English teachers, and I was again disappointed by the bravery of the Embassy staff. On our way back to the city, the shortest route to our destination would cross in front of the Embassy, which has a crowd of protesters out front. Knowing the docility of the Russian 'protesters,' from the Communist march, I advocated for a drive by of the Embassy. A drive-by, no stopping involved! The two weenies would have none of that though. They were so scared that we took a half-hour detour all the way down by MGU! There is something emasculating in the water at the Embassy, I swear.