It’s really strange to think that I am going to be here for such a long time.  Usually when you are in such a different place – and a ‘destination’ of sorts, you want to rush to make sure you take everything in, get those pictures snapped, don’t waste time, etc.  Well, I’m gonna be here a while.  I keep thinking – oh! I should take a picture of that!  It’s SO cool!  But really, its crappy weather or I don’t feel comfortable enough to take the time I need to make that picture look nice, so I should just wait.  So that’s what I have been doing.  Nine months is a long time!

I was so excited to go the market with some other teachers today!!!  I thought they meant we would be shopping at a store somewhere, or at a shopping center – who knows what people call things, I was with an Austrailian, a South African and a Canadian, we could have been going anywhwere.  Nope, they meant the market.  Today was cold – probably in the high 30s and rainy… blech, but we went anyway. How do I describe the market?  It is HUGE, first of all, with hundreds of shops or stands.  The ‘shops’ are grouped by specialty, like… shoe stores line one area, over here you have ‘bagville’.  Each place is usually half in a building… the room is usually about the size of a bedroom or so.. tiny.. and half out of a building, open air with makeshift walls and roof over hangs from the building.  Now, this market sells everyday items, not specialty items.  Things you would go to the mall or to Target to buy.  Like, sheets and towels.  The first impression I got was that if I were to see a shop like this in any US city, I would 100% KNOW everything was stolen.  It is just so dodgy.

Denise (early 50’s teacher from Austrailia, has taught before in Indonesia) was after some warmer, waterproof boots for the winter and Fiona (24, from South Africa – went to university in Britain) wanted a winter hat and a bag.  The Canadian, Gen, wanted an umbrella.  I need a ton of things still, so, I thought I could find something.  I ended up getting a towel and handtowel and a hairbrush!  Woo!  After a while of shopping, we stopped at a street vendor for nourishment.  After pointing to the spinning meat thing in the back, we were presented with things that could be loosely described as ‘gyros’… flatbread with fatty chicken (or some meat, anyhow), lettice and topped with a garlicy cucumber sauce, all rolled up like a burrito, and wrapped in paper.  Now, if you know me, you know that I have a mild aversion to cucumbers and cucumber-y things, but there was no way I was going to not eat this.  Here, I eat because human bodies need calories to survive.  It wasn’t too bad (but brought back sad memories of a couple of years ago when I went to 6 flags and it rained all day, we got gyros there… and it was sick).  I also ate some of the paper because I bit an edge with a bite of food, and, I knew I did it, but I couldn’t find it in my mouth… so I just swallowed.  It’s amazing to find out what really matters in situations like this.

After a while we split up.  Gen went to find her umbrella and then went home.  Fiona had to go back to the apartment to grab the key to the school in Petergof.  Denise and I stayed together so that she could take me to the food market, about 5-10 minutes walking from where we were.  Thank GOD for Denise – she is just what I need.  She doesn’t know Russian either, but has a lot of experience living in foreign lands.  She kept telling me where we were and referencing places she knew I would know.  She made me buy things on my own, telling me that it was perfectly fine that I looked stupid, but I needed to do it.  At the ‘food market’ I bought 3 tomatoes, a bulb? of garlic, and shampoo and conditioner.  Then we walked home – about half an hour or so of walking.  Having another day under my belt with new experiences is priceless.

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