Monday, October 5, 2015

Back in Minsk

Last summer I made a big list of my favorite things about Minsk so I’d have something to choose from when Carrie came to visit. I like Minsk, so the list got long. I compiled my list in the first place as a summary of favorite moments as I walked and cycled around the city. Since some of these moments are geographically far apart, I had to summarize for Carrie and I tried to string together favorite places within walking distance of each other.

Carrie and I were already used to walking, but I’d worn out the insides of my shoes during the preceding weeks. Carrie gave me a strip of blister tape to cover over the tunnel my little toe is mining toward the outer surface of my left shoe, and we strolled through the Island of Tears, Victory Park, along the banks of the Svisloch River and back up to Gorky Park. Then we took the urban tour, along Karl Marx Street and then back up Independence Avenue and under the eternal flame in Victory Square.

Stretching into our second day, we took Alla with us and toured the National Library, a couple of important churches, a block of Soviet apartment buildings, another park and many gift stores. Carrie was finally ready to do some serious shopping, since she didn’t have to carry anything very far and she wanted to bring home gifts for friends. My favorite of the gift stops was at the main post office, where they sold Carrie some oversized post cards and very fancy Chagall stamps. They insisted that she mark each of the post cards with a big rubber stamp saying “Welcome to Minsk” in two languages. Alla and the postal people all felt strongly about this. Rubber stamps are important here, and I’m sure everybody felt better knowing that Carrie’s cards would have them.

At the beginning of the trip, I told Alla that I wasn’t sure how Carrie and I would feel about each other after three weeks of such close proximity. I’m happy to report that I was sorry to see her go. She helped me to see and understand things I wouldn’t have seen, took my quirks and personal affectations in stride, offered me companionship and solitude in appropriate doses, and collaborated marvelously. Collaboration brought us to places we could not have reached alone and I’m happy we undertook the project together.

Steve's hedgehog and Carrie's camel, together in Minsk. - - - From 2015-09 Beijing-to-Minsk

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