August 26, 1996
Although I made no entries yesterday, today's entry more than
covers our outing. I noticed today's events were a little sketchy
so I've filled in a couple of things in italics to complete the thoughts.
Yesterday we took the boat out to Reckye(sp?) Island for our farewell picnic. Genia
brought vegetables and fruit from her organic garden at her dacha, hotdogs, squid, wine,
vodka, mineral water, bread...quite a feast. They set up a makeshift table - a board across two lobster traps - and benches - boards across some rocks - and even picked
a few wildflowers for a centerpiece - all purple and yellow - quite festive.
Most of us went swimming. I never know when to get out of the water! I'm
waterlogged and sunburned still. After lunch, Andrey and his wife rowed me over
to the other end of the beach for more interesting diving. I'm the only one of
the volunteers who dives and Andrey wanted to make sure I had a good time.
He found some trepang (sea cucumbers). I didn't taste them. The whole idea of eating
sea cucumber turns me off. They look like slugs! Trepang is supposed to be a delicacy
bu Alex didn't like it either.
The island is popular with weekend daytrippers and a few people have dachas there
but there's no village or anything. Cows roam the paths and walk right up to you like
they own the place and you are an interloper. It was a bit
of a hike from the rickety pier to the beach and Maurice stopped to
rest among the cows. I photographed some cows just for the heck of it. They're
The diving near our picnic site was pretty dull. Mostly a lot of sea grass, a few
clams, a few sea urchins, and a few of the black and red starfish. At the place I went
to with Andrey there was a lot more life: fish, snails,, crabs, tons
of sea urchins, a huge purple starfish spread out on a rock looking magnificent -
like the jewel of Neptune's crown or something - and lots and lots of those small
black and red starfish. I turned over a clam shell and found a crab underneath.
Also saw some hermit crabs.
I gathered a few shells while diving and on the beach. My neatest find is a sea scallop
shell. It is quite large and has tons of little spirals inside like worm casings or
something, and traces of something that looks like a miniature honeycomb. Some of
the clamshells look like quahogs. I wonder if they're related.
After our picnic, the captain took us on a boat cruise around the scenic
island to see dramatic red cliffs and a rusting navy target ship. The views
were as spectacular as advertised but the boat hit some rocks with a terrifying
jolt and a loud grindign sound. The boat lurched sideways and we all grabbed the
rail to keep from falling overboard. The boat
righted itself and crew bustled about assessing the damage and getting us underway
again. Slava was below deck when we hit and he looked green when he came up on
deck. He was clearly frightened. He joked that we would become Robinson Crusoe.
Alex said that wasn't what came to mind for him. Anyhow, we got going again,
finished our tour and headed back to Vladivostok harbor.
Kofi at Nostlagia
I slept late this morning, finished off my loaf of bread and most of the jam and went
to the post office where I finally found some picture postcards. I took the postcards
over to the Nostalgia Cafe and ordered coffee, which was the first decent coffee
I've had here, to drink while I wrote postcards. I took out my "secret decoder ring" aka the first 2 pages of my phrasebook and transliterated the postcard captions
for about the first 10 or so postcards. A good excercise for learning the Cyrillic
alphabet. After awhile, I just wrote my greetings and dispensed with decoding
the captions 'cause I was due back at the hotel for a tour of the city at 1:00.
Back at the hotel. Maurice dropped by to return my book [History of the Russian
Far East] and take some Aleve for his hip.
Tour of the City
Lena picked us up at 1:00 for our tour of the city.
First stop, the local Orthodox church complete with onion domes - gold and blue -
and floor to cieling religious paintings. Maurice managed to get some candles
for us to light at the altar - on the left for the dead and the right for the
living. I lit both of mine on the left, one at each of the left side altars,
in memory of Steven and Kathleen, and in gratitude that the intention I prayed
for at Chimayo last winter was granted. Odd how this place reminded me
of Chimayo half a world away.
The steps from the street to the churchyard were occupied by children
and beggars who found us a curiosity and a possible source of income.
Top of the Hill
Next stop: the top of the hill with a magnificent view of Vladivostok harbor.
The park at the top is called something like Earth & Soul Park and was funded
partly by San Diego, one of Vladivostok's sister cities.
Merchant Marine Memorial
On to the Merchant Marine war memorial - very moving - it had a slab for each ship that was lost in WWII and the names of all the men from that ship who died.
A Local Art Gallery
Last stop: a gallery with works by local artists on paper and canvas - watercoloer, gouache, whatever... They had some nice amber jewelry. I bought a strange pile
of amber that looks like a mushroom with a watch for the stalk. The watch works.