Friday, January 8, 2016

Russia? Did You Mention Russia?

As many of you know, we've been doing quite a bit of traveling.
And we've currently in Central and South America.
But one trip often brings back memories of others.
Here's something we wrote a couple of years ago when we were journeying through Russia on Viking River Cruises:

Pasternak. Catherine the Great. Tolstoy. Pushkin. Khrushchev. Turgenev. Nabokov. Putin. Veruschka. Ivan the Terrible. Doctor Zhivago. From Russia, With Love. Oligarchs. Gorbachev. The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, Marx, Lenin, Peter the Great. Nureyev. The Romanoffs. Trotsky. Stalin. Czars. Solzenitzshen. St. Petersburg. Godunuv. War and Peace. Anna Karenina. Red Square. Siberia. St. Basil's. Moscow. The Bolshoi. Molotov. Sputnik. Brezhnev.
Yes, as our Russian adventure draws to a close, we're thinking of all things Russian.
Russia as we knew it.
The Russia of history, of literature, of popular culture.
The Russia of the Crimean War, the world wars and the cold war.
The Russia we've heard about; the Russia we've learned about; the Russians we've loved, the Russia we allied with, the Russia we learned to fear. Russia on the brink, Russia in the depths, Russia re-emerged. The Russian eras we've already lived through.
It's all a tumble. And in the tumble there's romance, danger, brilliance, darkness, craziness, profundity, sadness and, every once in awhile amidst the gloom, moments of joy.
It's all mixed up with our perceptions, our memories and our experiences.
Because the truth is Russia is complicated, unpredictable and endlessly fascinating.
And considering everything this nation has been through, it's amazing that it has even survived as well as it has. But that's a testament to the strength, endurance and resilience of the Russian people themselves.
And yet, and yet . . . seven decades of Communism -- of totalitarianism -- cannot be undone in three.
But Russia is not static, not ever. Russia  is still changed, still growing, still trying to come to terms with its place in the world in the 21st century, still redefining itself.
We'll talk more about what we discovered in Russia as the days move ahead -- and about what we think the future may hold.
But for now, here's to Russia!

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