Monday, March 1, 2010

Black ice / гололедица

Warning #1:
The Russians have a single word to describe "black ice"

This morning as I ventured out into the warm morning (some 30 degrees!), I stumbled...quite literally...over how to get to the metro. Although the metro stop is only a few blocks away, there are a number of significant road blocks to get there. First, with the warming weather lately, the snow has begun to melt; however, overnight, it freezes again. Second, workers have yet to remove any of the old snow, so there is now a foot of snow on the "sidewalk" with several more inches of slush/ice on top. Third, none of the roads from my new home to the metro are paved in the least.

Warning #2: The natives were slipping, too

As I continued to geisha-walk through the streets, I became overheated due to a combination of the warmer weather and my heightened sense of panic. Every five to ten seconds, my arms would flail, my feet would skid underneath me, and my heart would start racing. Somehow, I managed to not fall during the entire trek...minus one incident.

Clutching my binder of worksheets from class, I attempted to cross from the icy "sidewalk" (where people can walk, but sometimes cars drive) to the more ridden-path of the "street" (where cars can drive, but sometimes people walk). Even with a 2-inch incline from one side to another, I attempted to slide out of control, almost hitting a car. Papers went flying. My binder slid under part of the car. The wind carried away a paper as I struggled to run after it on the icy ground. Fortunately, a man stopped to help me pick up one of the sheets. Unfortunately, he picked up the only English one, marking me not only as someone who cannot walk in the streets, but also as a foreigner, which usually go hand-in-hand anyways.

Warning #3: The rain boots are sold out

Nina, our Russian grammar teacher, explained to us that all day yesterday she was looking for rain boots at various shops in town, but could not find them anywhere, a tribute to the Soviet days apparently. Thankfully Mike will be able to bring me some rain boots so my feet are not soaking wet after walking outside every day!

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