In this continuing series, we cover my decision to move from San Diego to Chita, Siberia to be a professor at Chita State Technical University. We pick up story aboard flight from Anchorage to Khabarovsk, Russia.
Day 3 [Still]
As I lounged in my huge Aeroflot seat, stewardess announced that we would be arriving in Khabarovsk in next 30 minutes. Khabarovsk is located in deep south of far east of Russia on border with China. It is home of Far East Military of Russia and is largest city east of Lake Baikal. I was primarily interested in how hard it would be to find a hot shower.
Well, this was it, first day of my year in Siberia. I had my phrase book, electric blanket, traveler’s checks and a solid rush of adrenaline. Of course, I had never actually taught a class before, but I would deal with that later.
We descended out of clouds into a rainstorm. The view was still incredible. We were flying into a flat valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Everything was a deep green. A few cabins could be seen on ground.
There was a very clear view of airport as we banked through valley to approach from West. Umm, aren’t airports usually lit up? This one looked like a ghost town. The runways looked fine, but there were no lights in buildings. There appeared to be a dearth of activity on ground. I had never backpacked from a plane to airport, but maybe this was way it was done. When in Rome…
Finishing off an incredible flight, our Russian pilot set us down with a light touch. As we taxied up to airport, I could only think that if rest of Russia was as good as flight, it was going to be a great year.
Blink, blink, blink…lights started coming on in terminal! Despite being no more than 50 feet from it, we were herded onto a transport. We started, did a wide u-turn and stopped at gate. All I could think of was “The Gods Must Be Crazy.”
“The Gods Must Be Crazy” was a hilarious movie released in eighties [no jokes about my age]. The first scenes of movie are biting satires of our modern way of life versus indigenous tribes of Africa. In one scene, a woman gets into her car, backs down to end of her driveway and puts a letter in mailbox. Ah, progress! The journey from plane to airport couldn’t have been much longer.