Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Dash to Vitebsk

I’ve gotten to know the principals of a dance school in Vitebsk because they come to Minsk sometimes for our dance events. One of them tracked me down on Facebook and urged me to come to his school’s third-anniversary party. The party looked like fun but I didn’t imagine going because it bumped up against an event in Minsk. Kostya, however, kept giving me gentle nudges about coming.

A few days before the event, he asked me for some help translating some materials related to his program and inquired again about whether I’d come. It really did look like a good party, so I finally mentioned to Alla that I’d been fending off invitations for a few days now. She asked me, “Why don’t you go?” I didn’t need any more encouragement than that, and by the next day I’d found myself an $18 hotel and reserved train tickets, much to Alla’s surprise.

Honestly, I don’t have a lot of experience with hotels that cheap. I think Luci and I stayed in one in a small Mexican town once and we didn’t find it overly alarming, but we didn’t like it either. I actually liked the one in Vitebsk, and I’d even go back. (But I’d ask for a room on the other side of the building, away from the entrance to a popular bowling alley.)

I got a little bored on the train to Vitebsk, though, which is a bad sign because I’m planning a really long train ride with a cousin later this year. But the trip worked out pretty well otherwise because one of the people in my compartment helped me find the trolleybus that would take me to the dance studio and I got there in time for an excellent master class.

I really loved the dance party that evening. They had a good live band, a cozy location and a vibrant atmosphere. The organizers featured at one point a class group of talented beginners doing a show number. As much as I enjoyed the performance itself, I especially enjoyed watching their teacher’s face as her students danced. Christina beamed with joy, pride and love all at once.

I got back to my little hotel rather late, but the floor lady was ready, waiting right by the door. I have to imagine that security for guests at the Golden Calf Hotel meets or exceeds the security at much fancier hotels, thanks to the attentive and professional floor ladies here. I had time to take a shower and sleep a couple of hours before I said goodbye to the floor lady, walked to the train station and returned to Minsk. I still hadn’t slept enough, so I curled up on my upper berth and slept most of the way back.

The whole trip worked out really well.