Thursday, 26 January 2012

Here we go again

A couple of days ago I forced myself back to the hospital to endure the excavation of my arms to find a vein willing to give up its blood, just so I can prove, once again, that I am HIV free and qualify to return to Russia. On a tourist visa, this isn't necessary but on my visa it is. I can only assume that any HIV infected people are, upon obtaining a tourist visa, rendered physically incapable of spreading it for up to 30 days and so are declared safe to enter by the ever-logical Russian immigration services. Any other type of traveller, however, is clearly far more likely to go around spreading their disease from day 1 to the natives. Must be the type of ink they use. I might add here that it is estimated that the rate of HIV in Russia is at 1.5 million and its prevalence has increased by 250% since 2001. Makes zero sense whatsoever, but I have heard that there is talk of dropping the HIV test requirement in an attempt to make the country more accessible and appealing to businesses, amongst other things such as restrictions and fees on moving belongings into the country. They need to do something, my veins are not cooperative when it comes to blood tests and I less than relish the prospect of having several people dig around in my skin with sharp objects. However, it was done eventually and I'm now waiting for the call to collect my certificate so I can trundle up to the visa centre and get things sorted.
I do hope my favourite security guard will be there. I have missed him.
So here I am again, 22 days to go until I fly off to St Petersburg. I hate to say it but I'm less than excited right now. It will all be fine once I'm actually there, but I'm nervous and when I'm nervous I tend to hate what I'm nervous about. I'm back to checking the temperatures and they are generally -18, feels like -25, which is just lovely. The cold wasn't actually half as bad as you'd think in Yaroslavl, kind of unpleasant when it's snowing hard and driving into your face, but the cold is physically very bearable if you're dressed well...but I have become accustomed to being able to go outside without the 15 minute prep time to get dressed!
This is made slightly worse because on tv there is an Australian tourist board advert-'There's nothing like Australia',  and it looks freaking AMAZING. And hot. And sunny. And my friend is going there for a year. And I'm jealous.
I mean, there's nowhere like Russia, either, but in terms of appeal right now, the snow, evil babushki and impossible language are being overshadowed by the fact that I haven't seen the sun for over a year (thanks english non existent summer) and would quite like to go to the beach.

I do miss my fur hat though. And my valenki. And I have new purple flowery thermal leggings and stripey rainbow socks....
But if someone could tell me how to pack for 'feels like -26' as well as the +30 it will reach come June, I'd appreciate it. I have 3 extra kilos allowance this time round. Shoes or text books?

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