I think I have determined that I really just like the idea of camping, more so than actual camping. For which, by the way, no one here can seem to provide us a confirmed translation. So before a lovely trip to St. Petersburg, Andy and I went ‘na pohode’, ‘kemping’, and/or (who knows) ‘na peek-neek’ with some of Andy’s co-workers and their friends…

“Na pohode”

“Na pohode” really means more like hiking, which we did none of, therefore we can’t really call it that. Instead we sat around and alternated between eating, drinking, escaping the rain, playing charades, getting yelled at for speaking to each other in English, bartering with the neighboring campers for fish while they tried to amaze us with magic card tricks, playing Trivial Pursuit (yes, Mama and Papa, in Russian), spraying ourselves with most likely toxic amounts of bug spray, playing Twister, and picking caterpillars off of everything.

I also irrationally sulked about not having s’mores. But for this I will blame the blog (and not entirely on my husband who just didn’t have the vision in the store where I found Russian marshmallows and somehow convinced me out of buying them). How AMAZING of a blog post could have been written about introducing s’mores to people who don’t know what they are (yes, those people exist), in a foreign country, on a wacky camping trip, using Russian marshmallows, chocolate and whatever graham cracker substitute I’d have to find. This is what happens when you start blogging. Everything is constructed into a future blog post.

“Kemping” (that’s camping in a Russian accent)

“Kemping” is not considered a word by all Russians (even though we saw it in the store by the tents) so we can’t really use that either.

Whenever I go camping (or outside in Jersey in the evening) I am always eaten alive by mosquitos. I was kind of hoping since some random Muscovites I encounter don’t seem to want to acknowledge my presence that, while kemping, Muscovian mosquitos would act the same. No such luck.

Camping in America is usually restricted to special authorized areas. In Russia you can pretty much put a tent anywhere. Even, like in our case, in a field behind a sign that marks the territory as forbidden for people. I wish I could have seen mine and Andrei’s faces as we passed that sign, already after dark, on a road with deep puddles for booby traps.

The friends of our friends had made it already, so after a several hour detour that the GPS took us on, we called for directions. Andrei and I still don’t know how our friends found the place when both parties said things like this: “After you reach the dirt road there will be a pile of rocks and a butterfly sitting on a flower, take a left and then make a right at the ladybug” or “There is a field to our right and to our left, and a tree…which way do we go?” The first group to make it could remember a chunk of wood on the ground, but not deathly puddles and a No Trespassing sign.

The car after the road of puddles was another story. But despite the fact that the bumper would probably break off at the next dragonfly to whiz by (where we had to make another left, by the way), I knew it would be ok. Men here can fix broken engines with bubblegum and bottle caps.

“Na peek-neek”

“Na peek-neek” suggests a one day leisurely picnic somewhere without sleeping overnight in a tent. But we slept in a tent (for THREE nights) and didn’t have a toilet or a shower. In our tent we sat and slept through two very scary rainstorms and in another tent a couple’s cat peed twice on their blankets. During our meals bugs took baths in and had parties on all of our food. In the back of my mind were my mother’s words “…aaaaand why do people do this?” Something she says when people participate in rugged/comfort-threatening activies, or things that involve pets…or Cool Whip.

The Cat

The Bugs – don’t worry, we let them keep the leftovers

But really it wasn’t all bad. As I mentioned in my last post, Russians seem to be more intuned with nature and their naturalness in the nature made my long ago nature-y experiences come back. And although by the last day all of us were counting down the hours left of this, and I am quoting one of the girls, ‘torture’ (insert Mama: “….aaaand why…”), all in all it was a fun experience…ahem, an experience.

We (and by we I mean the others) prepared the fresh fish from the neighbors in a smoker (delicious). And also in Uha, a fish soup, over the camp fire (also pretty tasty). I tried new flavors like smoked lard (I probably won’t eat that again), dried fish (interesting), and caviar from the fish that was prepared in the soup (weird, but good).

Looking back now I would probably go “na pohode/kemping/na peekneek” again, but with a toilet and a shower. And a bed. And a kitchen. And a house.




5 Responses to “Untranslatable”

  1. i think you need a new merit badge with scouts….go Olya!

  2. I’m with your Mama…………..”…..and WHYYYYYYYYYYY…….” No thank you — the bugs, etc. are just NOT up my alley — let alone Ukha….(with or without the fish eyes?)….yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa……Olya………you and Andrei are my heroes cuz that is ONE experience I would definitely pass up in Russia!!!!

  3. Why is the water in the soda bottle “sink” brown? That is stressing me out. Is it a brown bottle?


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