Let’s pick up where we left off, yes? I was in St. Louis and briefly updated you before I needed to leave once again. My flight went fairly well to DC except that we had to wait to get off the plane for maybe an hour or two because of yet another lightning storm. (Perhaps this was the same one). This was by far the smallest commercial plane I have ever flown on, but we got there. After waiting forever in the airplane just outside the terminal, we were allowed to exit and the race was on to attempt to make my transatlantic flight to Moscow. This whole time I still have not really had the ability or time to sleep, other than closing my eyes to give the appearance that I was sleeping.
It had been awhile since I had come through Dulles airport in DC and I’m sure I was not quite as sharp as usual but I managed to make it from the airport train, up the terminal, onto a shuttle bus, and over the the other end of the airport. I arrived at my gate with two minutes to spare and my flight side “on-time.” This would change. The storm kept the outside workers from loading luggage so we changed our flight to a delay after I scurried through to my gate. I have been on nicer big planes but this was perfectly fine for me. I just wanted to get to my destination.
My assigned seat landed me next to a young lady from Moscow who had been on holiday in Miami. She didn’t like it very much which led to some good conversation about American culture. Her name was Daria and we would talk a little and then I tried to sleep off and on. I got a few hours I think and missed the drinks (this is important). After something like a 9-10 hour trip I was finally in Russia, at the heart, Moscow.
This was Domodedovo airport; it was cool but I can wait before I need to go back for sure. We arrived late of course, but I had an 8 hour layover there so that was no problem. I would never have expected to need that long of a layover to get ready for my next flight but I did. This airport, like most of Russia, had no air conditioning. I also had not had a shower in a few days and I was dehydrated and thirsty in a hot airport. Even the coldest areas of Russia have a very hot summer although it is brief. The further north, the briefer it is. It had been abnormally hot all over the country when I arrived in the airport and it has continued to be hot to this day overall. I think I heard it was 50 Celsius today. This was either a mistake with their English numbers or they were joking or maybe exaggerating or they were referring to heat index but 50 C is like 120 Fahrenheit. It has gotten above 100F though on multiple occasions.
Anyway, I took my bags and went through customs. The whole time, Daria would not let me be without her help even though the process was painless and relatively easy. She gave me her number and email and said her grandfather gives tours in his town of St. Petersburg and to let her know if I visited so he could help. This was a great encouragement in the midst of a long travel. I thanked her and went on my way. I wanted to pay for a shower and get some water before I rechecked my bags for my next flight but to get anywhere I wanted to go required stairs or walking aimlessly in circles since I do not know the language.
I found the lockers and the showers but first I needed Rubles because they don’t accept cards. This would be no problem if my card had worked at the ATM. I had already learned how to do this properly ahead of time but when I went to use my card the first time, my bank froze the card. Now I had already called my bank to notify them of my travel and then I reconfirmed later. They called to reconfirm the day of my departure but I still had no success. I was lost for direction and sweaty and thirsty. I went to information and I found the only person in the airport who spoke English. She was not very good at it. She tried to help begrudgingly but didn’t. I figured out a way to connect to the states and called my bank number on the back of my card by calling collect. The first operator said that security may be gone for the day (even though it was 3am in St. Louis on a Monday). The second operator I called later said that security was often working away from phones at this time of day but that they were 24/7 and would be back at the latest by 6am. I left security a message and waited in my sweaty clothes with my bags.
I promptly called back at 6am and my bank didn’t accept the collect call but luckily after angrily trying again I received connection to security and got my card back online. Apparently it was their mistake but no matter what, my card would have not worked because this airport is an area of high fraud (why did I notify them in the first place then?). I didn’t care about much else except water at this point and successfully made a withdraw. I quenched my thirst, paid for my bags, and went through Moscow security to wait for my flight to Orenberg which was soon approaching.
***The next installment of this update will be tomorrow as I will have time (we have guests leaving) and I am too tired to continue tonight. See you tomorrow, friends.