I can breathe once again. I arrive in Suzdal, much smaller than Moscow and St-Petersbourg and where there aren’t tourists on every street corner (though there are some). It is much more surrounded by nature which I enjoy, I feel like I can be with myself again.
I really like Suzdal, one of the two cities of the golden ring that I will visit (with Vladimir). It’s a very picturesque place, I spend hours strolling along the river and around old churches and pretty and colourful wooden houses.
I have fun with the dogs of the village, there’s loads of them and they move around in small flocks.
And the cows are pretty cool too!
But my stay is short, since I am only at the beginning of my voyage across Russia and I only have a few weeks to get to the other side (my visa lasts for one month in total, and Russia is big). I thus take a bus the next day for Vladimir.
Near the Kremlin, I meet a man in his fifties who is trying to communicate. I indicate that I don’t speak Russian, and he answers in English that he is from Armenia and that he is looking for a certain church. I can’t help him, I want to leave. Also, his smell gets to my nostrils… It is absolutely unbearable. At that moment, he asks me for money. Obviously, I should have guessed that he wasn’t only looking for his way. I thus hurried to get away from him. But something in this man really disagreed with my body, I can’t seem to get his smell out of my nose. I have to stop, sit down; I’m feeling nauseous. It will take me over an hour to feel good again. It’s very strange, I think that this man wasn’t only dirty from the outside…
I go back to my hostel in a haste, after I buying a few things for tonight’s meal (I often cook in the hostels where I’m staying). I have to wake up earlier in the morning in order to reach Nijni-Novgorod, by train this time. It’s a few hours away.
And surprise! We can take gondolas to cross over the river Volga. A bit different from the ones I’m used to taking… 🙂
The next day, I go visit museum, including a house where very rich people used to live. I’m glad, I managed to negociate the entrance ticket because I find it too expensive for someone who doesn’t understand a word of the explanations (90 % of what is presented is in Russian). It’s nonetheless still more expensive for foreigners! But a smile can arrange everything 😉
But time goes by fast, and I already have to climb into another bus that will take me to the train station, to Kazan this time.
“It’s been three nights that I sleep in a different bed, and according to my improvised program, it will be the same for the next four nights. Moscow, Suzdal, Vladimir, Nijni-Novgorod, the train, Kazan, the train, Tyumen. I’m going to have to slow down or it’s not going to be long until my organism punishes me for this rythm. I blame my visa: 1 month is way too short to discover a country as huge as Russia. I prefer to travel more slowly, but I have to reach my destination (Mongolia) on time and I don’t want to miss out by doing so. Especially that in those small towns, there isn’t that much to see and a day or two is more than enough. And I must admit that the adrenaline provoked by all of those changes is intoxicating; I love to find myself in the middle of nowhere, asking myself: “Okay, what now?” and having to manage as well as I can how to get to a safe place with an adress, sometimes a map and my smiles to approach people who could potentially help me (and who don’t speak English for the most part). All of this often with a 15-kilo backpack as well as my shoulder bag… It’s what we call ‘being out of your comfort zone’. Sometimes, I get tired, lose patience, become angry and start to speak to myself, and then I suddenly see a wonderful landscape or meet somebody nice, so I relativise, start lauging, mock mysyelf. I try to stay the most positive possible, because I know that we attract what we reflect and, until now, it has always worked for me in my travels, even in the seemingly most desperate situations. And every night, every one of them, I have a moment of gratitude before going to sleep. I whisper “thank yous”, a smile on my lips, thank you to life, to the universe to have brought me here by so many circumstances, exactly where I’m supposed to be. Each experience, positive or negative, is a lesson destined to make us grow. The difficulties of the past few months was the best thing that could happen to me. The died out flame is rekindling in me and I feel read again to face it all, the solitude, the lack of meaning, the uncertainty regarding my future, the malevolance of some people, the vicissitudes of life. And to embrace the world, its unity, its beauty, the love that animates it.
Life is beautiful.“