And what a week it has been! Perhaps the greatest struggle has been the jetlag. No matter how hard we try, we always seem to wake up at 2AM and cannot sleep until 6, which is the time we have to get up. News of the stock market crash and a 7 billion dollar bail out is about the jolt it takes every day to get our eyes open.
We live in a very convenient American bubble right in the heart of Moscow. The American Embassy compound has all the conveniences of home; sports gym, post office, hair salon, food commissary, and a bar. It is quite easy however, to penetrate the perimeter and step into the sea of 13 million Russians. Even in the Embassy, I hear Russian all the time. Over 1000 Russians work here. The best part about it is that the kids are free to run around at will. They have already made friends with their peers and spend more time outside (for now) than they ever did in Niger.
Dina and I went with a colleague of mine to get lunch at the local hole-in-the-wall. She led us into a Russian Orthodox church. The interior was hand carved wood with painted flowers and small tables covered with slovac embroidered tableclothes and an icon in the corner. I crossed myself. It looked like an old Russian movie set. The smell of baked bread permeated the place. Babushki served the food. We sat down among the old and young Moscovites and ordered a bowl of hot mushroom and barley soup and cabbage piroshki. After we finished, I left a tip. The babushka who served us handed me back my rubles and said, "leave it as a donation for the church on your way out."
Tomorrow is Friday. We have tickets to go to the Bolshoi Circus with the kids on Saturday. Camille is liking her new social life and school. Stefan has had 2 days of the French school. Last night, we actually slept a reasonable 6 hours without interruption. I dreamed of Dyadya Oga. He drove me down a windy road in his VW van (he barely looked 50 but I wasn't a kid anymore) while trying to convince me that I should take this job. "I thought I did!" I said. "No you haven't. You haven't seen any patients yet!" Which was true.
I started seeing patients today. It feels good to be useful again. I needed to make a complicated phone call to the States about a bill so as not to charge the Embassy and got all worked up and frustrated. I inquired at the nurses desk as to how to do it and the Russian doctor said, "just push zero and the operator will connect you."