Another check off of the to do list...
I was up pretty late last night keeping in touch with eberyone from home. I was finally able to talk to everyone at home, plus my grandparents, and even Mr. Paul (my former ag teacher) and his wife. It was nice to be able to chat with everyone, even if it only was for a short while. It kinda makes me homesick, especially now that I am staying here longer than originally intended. For those of you who don't know what I mean, I have been offered an internship to teach English to the students at the high school we visit each Thursday. My duties will require me to teach 2-3 hours each day, five days each week. I will be staying here in Moscow until June to complete my responsibilities. I am pretty psyched about this opportunity and definitely looking forward to working with the students at the school for four more weeks.
In the meantime though, everyone else, except for Weston, who is interning with John Deere, will be heading back to the US on May 8, so we are all kinda doing our best to see/do everything here in Moscow before we go. I had made a "Sightseeing List" about two weeks ago, before I had accepted the internship, just to make sure I would not miss anything noteworthy. One of those places on the list included Trinity Monastery at St. Serigus. Well, as ironic as it may sound, that is exactly the place that we went to today for our International Agricultural Seminar!
We left the hostel at 8:30 AM and headed to Sergiev Posad, about 45 miles North of the city. When we arrived we were told to return to the bus by 11:30 to head out to our next portion of today's excursion. I was thrilled that we were given the freedom to explore the monastery as we pleased, but that excitement soon dissapated as we were told that since we were a group, we would have to pay 2000 rubles ($60) for a guided tour! Yeah, that wasn't happenin'! So we all walked back out the main gate and entered the monastery in pairs after about a ten minute wait to hope that they would forget who we were. It worked well, especially the part where Natasha, Oksana, Julia, and I walked in through a service gate after a tip from one of the babushkas that it was not guarded, and that if we only waited until the opened the gate to let a car come out, we could walk right in unscathed!
The monastery was beautiful, being the oldest in the Moscow Region, and serving as the "christening place" for heirs to the Russian throne for centuries. There were so many buildings, cathedrals, bell towers, chambers, and houses for the monks, who still live, work, and train here. We had a good time exploring the history and the enjoying the beautiful spring weather. The only downfall was that none of the girls has brought headcoverings, so we didn't go into many of the buildings, since women to this day still MUST have their head covered when inside a chapel.
We stayed inside for over an hour, and then headed back to the bus. But not before a stop at the local souvenir vendors, who even boarded our bus once were were all onboard, eager to make a last minute sale! The bus drived stopped off at McDonald's for lunch. Afterward, the intent was to visit two pesant farm, where we would get the chance to finally see a real Russian farm! However, we got lost, as always, and after driving for an hour, arrived at the second of the two farms that we had planned to visit.
We arrived at the farm of a couple who had purchased the 50 hectares of land through a jount-venture program with Holland and Russia. They have seven milking cows, six heifers, many chickens, and grow all of their own crops and vegetables. The cows are milked twice a day by hand, and each cow produces about 20 liters of milk each day. They would not let us go intot he barn because they were afraid of disease transmission, and also getting us dirty. The fresh milk is sold to permanent private customers in Sergiev Posad. We were able to ask the couple questions about their nearly sustainable agribusiness for about an hour, while they gave us a tour of their farm. They have two daughters who are both studying at Moscow State Industrial University in Sergiev Posad. The most interesting part of the visit was when the couple stated that they do not care to make money from their farm. They farm because they like it, for pleasure, not for profit. They did admit however, that they do not se themselves staying here forever, as they are looking to buy land elsewhere, maybe in a small village. I was able to speak with one of their daughters, and she stated that she is not allowed to help with the farmwork, because her mom says it is too hard for her, and that she needs to concentrate on her studies. She also stated that she does not like living on the farm in the winter because it is so far away from the town.
We wrapped up our charming visit to the peasant farm and headed for home. As soon as we got there, Weston and I ran to the market to grab some food for dinner. We were having a good ole' fashioned American BBQ with hamburgers and mararoni salad. It was quite a treat, however, we made way too much food, and I have still not realized that my stomach is smaller now, so I practically stuffed myself. Abby, a former American completer of the program who had come on the fieldtrip with us today, came down, and we all played cards for the whole evening. It was a great time, as we played a Nebraskan game called Pitch 10. It was a relaxing evening, and heck of a lot of fun, although I was feeling full, even when I went to bed at 12:30.