16’s & 18’s Baltic Trip – August 8th

Getting off the train into Russia, I was tired. Along a white wall to my left, a nest of cables and cameras scanned every square-inch of the railway station. A short man sporting an impressive mustache kept his weary eyes locked on our group of high-school students.  His security badge shined brightly on his chest as he turned to another somber looking woman at his side. Russia! I breathed in the brown city air.

All I needed was an ostentatious grey suit to play my role as 007. My eyes darted left and right. White license plate: E 003 py 90. Kalininsky District КАЛИНИНСКИЙ Р-Н. The people: somber and rigid.

As a group, we were all excited to explore.  Our bus darted through the congested streets. Each vehicle moved through the roads without the slightest recognition of other objects. You either moved or got run over. Through the windows, we saw the city.

On one particular stop, we got off the bus to look at onions. Buses competed for parking space while tourists flashed and flailed their cameras. The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one captivating architectural miracle. One inch tile squares cover every space in the churches interior. Millions and millions of tiles converge to capture divine imagery. The air is hot and humid as bodies push and prod to touch the church. We got back out and hunted down our bus. Taking a step back, I took a deep breath at the end and smiled. Mrs. Priddy snapped a photo, and we left. I’m happy I saw holy onions in Russia.

– Pablo Vazquez

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