20 June 2008

The Great Train Robbery, or How Not to Plan a Trip: Continued Again

Part One: Some Bad Decisions On My Part

Part Two: Disaster Strikes

Part Three: No Action Film is Complete Without a Car Chase

Finally, at about 12:20, the train arrives at the appointed stop. I say goodbye to Viktor, the ticket lady, and everyone else who poked their nose into the affair. The girl and I get off. She seems pretty uninterested in me, but nonetheless immediately lassoes her boyfriend, who is waiting for her at the station, and makes him summon up a cab. By stroke of luck or magic, a cab comes rolling into this dusty little village within approximately forty-five seconds. Girl and boyfriend deposit me in the cab, for which I thank them profusely.

Here the journey could have become unpleasant, since Russian taxi rides usually are, but God apparently loves a fool and therefore granted me the only good cab driver in all of Rostov Oblast. He (the driver, not God) immediately grasps the gravity of the situation and promises to get me there on time. An Armenian from one of the outlying Rostov villages, he proves chatty, funny, and not opposed to the idea of me wearing a seatbelt (a great rarity among Russian cab drivers). We talk about politics, the Armenian language in Armenia and Russia, money. He does not rebuke me for not leaving earlier. We get caught in traffic (it turns out Pervomaiskaya is actually inside Rostov, just not downtown. Rostov is perpetually congested). Seeing that I'm getting antsy, he tells me exactly how much farther we have to go (four hundred meters). We finally pull into the station parking lot at 12:52. "Thank you so much! You saved me!" I gush as I hand him his four hundred rubles ($16). "You're not saved yet! Now go get your ticket!" he laughs before he speeds away.

I run into the station. There's no line at the ticket window. This is such a rarity that I'm convinced some higher power really is looking out for me. The ticket window girl, who does not have a bouffant, squints at my wrinkled computer printout. "Wow, why are you so late?!?" she exclaims. "That's a really long story!" I puff. She does not ask for details, but prints me a ticket in under two minutes. Gold star for ticket window girl!

So, in the end I reached the train at exactly one o'clock, with seven minutes to spare. If you want, you can pretend I defused a bomb MacGyver-style and captured the terrorists who planted it in those seven minutes, instead of standing outside my car and talking to Amara on the phone in loud English, thus earning the suspicion of my wagon's conductor (and breaking the ticket-lady rule I set for myself at the end of Part Two).

Anyway, that's all, fade to credits. Happy end, just like Hollywood! It was kind of fun, in retrospect. I haven’t had an "Is it Russia, or is it me?" moment in a long time, much less an entire adventure.


Celine said...

Haha, all's well that ends well, right? Glad everything worked out. Now have fun on your trip!

Rosa said...

Goodness. I hit a snafu yesterday when King's Cross shut down when I was trying to leave London, but at least I'm in a country wear people speak English. Good job making it in the end!