Monday, June 28, 2010

Ron arrives in Vladimir

I arrived in Vladimir yesterday, June 26. My flights from Bloomington (Illinois) to Atlanta and then Atlanta to Moscow went smoothly. I had to wait a while for my one checked bag to show up. I then exited through the Green Channel with no problems -- and immediately found Yuri, the driver who usually takes me from and to Moscow. It was extremely warm -- over 30° centigrade or in the 90s Fahrenheit. And it was humid. Fortunately, his Chevy his has climate control.... Shortly after we left the airport we encountered our first "probka," or "traffic jam." The bridge we needed to be able to cross to get on the Leningrad highway and from there to the outer ring road was closed. And there was no clear way to get around this. Russian road maintenance crews seem to have a habit of doing their work without making provisions for traffic to get around them.

It took us more than an hour to get headed in the right direction. We then encountered several additional traffic jams, most of which were caused by "fender bender" accidents or cars that were broken down. The disabled vehicles were invariably old Soviet models. (At least 70% of the cars on the road today are foreign models -- many of which are now assembled in Russia. It seems that no one who has a choice wants to get stuck with a Soviet-era car.)

We obviously eventually made it to Vladimir -- and I saw that the American Home was in fact still standing.

I was especially impressed with the new "emergency exit" from the basement. It is impressive. And it is clearly justifiable. I'll add some photos later.

Alexei and Galya showed up not long after I arrived. We discussed some business -- but postponed most of that until Monday. They are celebrating their ballroom dance teacher's birthday today -- and I can do with the chance to rest.

I spoke briefly with two of the current teachers yesterday evening. More on that later.

Overall, things appear to be "under control."

I am looking forward to a productive visit.

-Ron Pope

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