October 1st, 2008 ~ Seattle ~ USA
|Natashia at the GBT Seminar|
Natashia, Anya, Olga, and Vladamir accompanied us to the Irkutsk airport and stayed close until it was time for us to go through the gate. From there it has taken me two days to reach Seattle, crossing sixteen time zones and spending many hours in the airports of Moscow, Prague, Paris, and Newark.
Despite the length of the journey, I like air travel. I slept while we were aloft, then spent the airport time watching people, reading, writing in my journal, and appreciating the westward migration toward increasingly functional plumbing.
I still had a few Euros left in my wallet from the Paris layover that had begun this adventure, so enjoyed a croissant and a pot of tea in a French café at Charles de Galle airport. After I came through customs at the Newark terminal I ordered a slice of pizza. When I laid a handful of Russian rubles on the counter, the clerk let me know that just wasn't going to work in New Jersey, and I knew I was back in America.
The miles caught up with me on the last leg of the trip. Reclining in an aisle seat, I fell into a very deep sleep. Somewhere over the Midwest I was pulled out my unconscious state by the man in the middle seat anxiously shaking my arm. "Sir, I really, really have to use the bathroom," he told me, and I wondered how long he had been trying to awaken me. I was tempted to shrug my shoulders and say in Russian that I spoke no English, but the poor fellow really did seem desperate so I let him out.
|A last look at Lake Baikal||The End of the Trail|
As adventures go, the journey to Siberia already ranks up among the best. It was a chance to visit a remarkable place. I learned about cultures, landscapes, and ways of doing things that were new to me. Best of all, I met many wonderful people who opened their lives and shared their interests, their humor, and their passions. I will gladly spend two days in airports and in flight to have that kind of opportunity again.