Got the internet working again. This is kind of a funny story. I go into the store downtown and they look up my information and say, “oh yes, you activated your account on May 20th, it’s now June 21st so you need to pay another 400 rubles.” But as you all know, I was still in the US in May, making this version of events quite impossible. Luckily, I had my extensive receipt (when I bought the thing I needed my passport, and the gave me this sheet of paper that they stamped about five times) that had the date of purchase, June 8th, on it. So they just shut my internet off two weeks early for no reason. But I guess I should be thankful I got it fixed again so quickly.
Also, I figured out why my neighbor is so good at hacky sack. I am convinced it has to do with his incredible dietary regimen, which consists solely of homemade french fries and Russian four loco. He had me over the other night. The fries were good. The four loco was one shade away from cough syrup. Oh, he also never sleeps. At least he doesn’t smoke in the toilet like his room mate.
But on to the post title, the Russian holiday switcharoo. This happened almost two weeks ago, on a Monday. Erik had mentioned that he wanted to go visit the American consulate here in town, to register with them. I actually had to do this as well for my scholarship so I agreed to come with and we convinced Hilary and Stephanie to come as well. We knew where the consulate was, on Pushkin street, but were only vaguely sure of how to get there. From the university, it is in the same general direction you go to get downtown. So we hopped on a bus and got off at our usual stop. But from there all we knew was to walk down to the Russky Island bridge and take a left to get to Pushkin. Simply enough though, so we thought. We didn’t know which bus ran in the direction we needed, so we figured it would be better to walk. Only thing is, the bridge is a good ways away from where we got off the bus and shortly after we did, it started to rain. So we hustled in the direction of the bridge. Which took a good 10-15 minutes. When we get to the bridge, we are all already soaked and the girls are already threatening going back. But since made this far we wanted to go on. Of course, we had this idea that consulate would be right near the bridge. Turned out it was another 3/4 of a mile past it, and up a bit of a hill. By the time we finally found Pushkin street, we were feeling kinda dumb. We took shelter under an awning and decided to call the consulate (someone had the number) to find out the building number to figure out how far and in which direction we had to go. We felt even more dumb when we got the automatic answering machine saying the consulate was closed for the holiday. Always call ahead kids. But what holiday? We knew there was a holiday tomorrow, Tuesday, — День России — but that’s why we went on Monday. No, no, silly Americans. It seems Russians are particularly fond of the three-day-weekend. I mean who isn’t? So whenever there is a holiday in the middle of the week, they do a little switch. If there is a holiday on Tuesday, as in this case, everyone will go to work on Saturday, and take off Monday, so they can consolidate their weekend. So after walking close to two miles in the rain, we had no recourse but to turn back. Luckily, we didn’t have that far to go, as we had walked so far that we had essentially looped back behind the university. We hopped on the vernicular which is this trolley thing that will take you up this massive hill for six rubles and then after a short walk we were back. Lesson learned.
I actually ended up going back to the consulate on Friday as I really did need to register. A totally underwhelming experience. I knew how to get there this time and it wasn’t raining but I had to go through a Russian security check point to even get in. They ran my passport and immigration registration before they even would let me in the door. And then I had to go through a metal detector and leave my phone and any other electronic equipment with them while I went upstair to register with the consulate general. Not a place I am going to want to return to if I suddenly need political asylum. And then when I got up there, it was just totally derelict. One staff person and she was in the back. The bell I was supposed to ring was of course broken so I had to yell awkwardly back there, not sure which language to use. It was just very odd and not reassuring. In short, it looks like Vladivostok is not a huge priority for the Department of State. I made my displeaure known in a scathing comment card. Stay tuned.