Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Hello my dearest fans,

I write to you from an Internet Cafe in the city of Ulan-Ude, capital of Buryatia, two days away from the beginning of my SECOND project, which is truly hard to believe. The project I just finished, "In the Jungles of Khamar-Daban" near the village of Tanhoi, was absolutely spectacular. I don't have a cord for my camera, which is sad, because I have lots of incredible photos, but here's some brief highlights to hold you over until I am back in Irkutsk:

  • First day: our "marshrutka" or minibus breaks down on the highway, and we don't make it to our campsite until 10 pm, with no dinner and after 9 kilometers of hiking, and having to set up camp
  • Living and working in temperate rainforest for two weeks, by the cleanest, sweetest, most beautiful river I've ever seen
  • Swimming daily, sunbathing after lunch, and sun almost every day
  • Teaching 9 Russians to contradance on American night
  • Singing "Bananaphone" over and over again to the delight of my campmates, leading to the title "BananaSan"
  • Chopping down 20 trees in a day, and helping clear 175 meters of trail over the course of the project with only shovels and pickaxes for us to use
  • Having a Russian kiss my boot during an awkward ice-breaking game
  • My largest injury: a sliced finger from a rainy-day attempt at a carved spoon (not a recommended activity for the weak of heart)
  • Swimming in Baikal, eating fresh-caught "omul" (the Baikal fish) and sunbathing for our last day together
All in all, it was a life-changing experience. I made incredible friends, did lots of hard work, and simply had an incredible time. Now I have two days with new friends in the city of Ulan-Ude, home of the world's largest head of Lenin in addition to an incredibly interesting community of Russians and Buryats living together in an urban environment. I'm really excited for the adventures ahead, and looking forward to writing more to you from this big, beautiful country!

C liobovio iz Rossia! With love from Russia!

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