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Our flight consisted of about 100 people. Of these, 90 percent were Russians. Grae and I counted as two and remaining five or so people were religious volunteers going to convert godless masses. They appeared to be having no luck on plane, but Grae and I were able to strike up a few conversations.
I must say that Russians on plane were extremely nice and very honest. While honesty is generally a good thing, their frankness made me a bit uncomfortable. First, there was a clear consensus that we were out of our mind for agreeing to go to Chita. “You are going WHERE?!” was followed by a lot of whispering between Russians and bulging eyes. Since I doubted pilot would be willing to turn plane around, this wasn’t particularly comforting.
Our conversations raised an additional problem regarding definition of “fluent”. In my mind, being fluent in a language meant that one could get directions, tell boring stories, etc., in language in question. It quickly became clear that Grae’s definition of “fluent” was something less. This was verified when he turned to me and said, “Man, I’ve forgotten a lot.”
Great. Khabarovsk was only a few hours a way. But that’s a story to be told in Part 4 of this series…
Rick Chapo is with http://www.nomadjournals.com - makers of small, compact travel journals, hiking journals, rock climbing journals, fly fishing journals, bird watching journals and more. This story series is being created from journals entries in a Nomad Travel Journal. Visit Siberian Intercultural Bridges at http://www.siberian-bridges.org to find out more about teaching in Siberia.