WRITTEN ON THE TRAIN FROM EKATERINBURG TO VOLOGDA/CHEREPOVETS

Ekaterinburg was my first time couchsurfing solo. I was a little nervous, but wound up finding a host who I thought was worth the extra stress. Her name is Eva, and although she lived, as the Germans say, am Arsch der Welt (in a remote location), we had a great time in the boonies. In fact, I ended up spending more time at the apartment with her and her boyfriend than I did in town.

The first day, she told me to come “whenever.” I came around 11 AM, figuring that that would give them time to do their morning thing and give them the option of hanging out with me or sending me back into the world after I got my stuff settled.

They wanted to hang out—or at least, Eva did. Kostya, her boyfriend, seemed rather peeved about my existence, although he became more pleasant as time went on. Presumably his unfriendly beginning was the result of bad timing on my part. Well, perhaps that and the fact that I was kind of a zombie when I arrived, not having slept on the train and having arrived at 6 AM.

When I first got there, Eva decided to take a shower. Kostja was blowing up stuff on the computer, so I pulled out a stack of word jumbles (thanks, Mom! I take them everywhere!) and arranged myself on the couch in such a fashion that I could fall asleep and make it look like an accident. I did fall asleep at some point and woke up to the sound of Kostya’s chair scooching back. So when he got up, he did not see me sleeping, but did see me lying there, staring blankly into the nothingness. He went to Eva, who was still in the shower, and, underestimating either my hearing or my Russian comprehension, demanded, “She’s just lying there not moving. It’s creepy! Why is she doing that!?”

Since it was a little early to creep out my host, I got up, and the three of us played some board games that, in an unprecendented glitch of the universe, I didn’t lose (I didn’t win, either, but you know).

The next day, I went into the city, but it was cold—like, really cold—so I mostly floated from cafe to cafe. I also took a four-hour bus tour of the continental border, the Church on Blood, and so on, which was worth it even if the tour itself was unremarkable. But there are pictures on Facebook, and there’s not really much to write about that, so I won’t waste your time.

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