You all know how we all are victims of preconceived ideas, spread by the media or those that “know”.
All German dance on tables and drink beer.
In South Africa we have lions in our backyards.
Polish people can only but steal.
Russia = vodka, Kalashnikovs, prostitutes, drugs
It is true that all these things do happen, but to what extent?
Thanks to my wonderful KLR I could discover some truths that didn’t fit with the popular view.
Let us take Russia as example. Until a day before I arrived in Russia I received only but warnings.
I was travelling quite cat-footed in this big, wonderful country. The first night I spent at those wonderful people of Luga. The first week, however, I spent most time out on the pampas, (I know, not Russia), to avoid all these dangers. Then I met Vladimir, Alexei and their parents in a town whose name I still do not know. It was one of the best experiences of my ride so far.
But the Russian women … Much is said about them. The Olga’s that are going to try ….
Then came my rest days in Yekaterinburg. On my first rest day, armed with a map only in Russian, I tackled the city. First of all I met Sophie, a young lady from China, yes, Red China. She spoke an excellent English and gave me a city map in English. Together we started discovering that wonderful city. In a church where we witnessed a baptize ceremony being conducted we met Julia, a Russian lady now living and working in Switzerland. We three continued our walk through the city and ended the day with a long coffee-and-cake session in a coffee shop. We had so much deep talk that it felt as if I had known those two already my whole life. Sophie and Julia were stars on my first day in Yekaterinburg.
Over Couchsurfing I met Marina, a lawyer from the city. We had coffee and dinner and a long chat. What a brilliant lady! The day thereafter she invited me to a birthday party and dropped me off at my small hotel after the party. Marina was everything what the preconceived ideas didn’t tell us. She was a professional, well-educated, well-travelled, a very good example of how our human beings should be. Marina, if you ever should read this, thank you! Spasiba!
Then still in Yekaterinburg I met Elena, another professional lady working at a top-ranked company. We had coffee, a lot of laughs, much to tell, and again I was touched by the sincerity of the Russian soul. Elena wasn’t on man-searching either, doesn’t want to leave Russia, feels about her country as I about South Africa. What a lady she is! Thanks Elena!
Then I think back about Vladimir, a qualified engineer that could earn much more abroad. He doesn’t want to leave Russia because he is a patriot.
I know that these few encounters may not be representative of a whole country but I want to mention them as people that seldom get mentioned in the write-ups about Russia.
And after two weeks of travelling in Russia I still haven’t see a prostitute or a Kalashnikov, was never offered drugs and had only a tot of Vodka.
What a wonderful way, on a motorbike coming from the other side of the globe, to have my own preconceived ideas being smashed by wonderful educated people!
Now I am going to have a beer on all the Vladimirs, Marinas and Elenas of this wonderful country. And about my experiences with people in Tyumen, not those two hotel ladies of yesterday, I will write later.
I love this way of travelling more and more!