Since International Women's Day fell on a Sunday, yesterday, everyone had the day off today. We traveled by car for 30 minutes to the village of Tutaev and saw a 17th century Russian Orthodox Church. It was large and beautiful. In the winter, only the bottom floor is heated and services are conducted there. This is true in all of the churches that I've seen so far.
Tutaev, like Yaroslavl, is on the Volga. Here the Volga wasn't frozen and we could see churches on the other bank.
We then drove to Rybinsk the second largest city in the Yaroslavl region. Rybinsk was the last port on the Volga and was very prominent in the 18th and 19th century. Its population is about a third of Yaroslavl's - about 200,000. On the way to Rybinsk, we picked up my friend Liz from Pennsylvania and her host family. We traveled in two cars across the river to a farm which regularly hosts groups.
We were met at the farm by six people, including a ten year old, who were dressed in traditional Russian clothes. They, accompanied by a man on an accordian, sang songs and danced. They served us fortified wine - like a sherry - and buns. They then asked Liz and I to dance with them. I had to dance holding my wine in a plastic cup - along with my camera. They had a lot of energy and spirit.
When we got into the farm enclosure there was another set of songs to welcome Spring. Of course, it was snowing lightly - but folk knew that spring was on its way. The group sang a song to welcome Spring and sure enough, a snow mobile came bringing him - in costume. He was, by the way, the same gentleman who drove one of the vehicles.
We were then met by ten children who were scouts at the school Liz will be visiting. These scouts, and their leader, are learning English well. We played games and danced together - to old Russian folk songs. My friends took photos of me while I was dancing - I haven't seen them yet.
We were served a meal of fish soup and shiskebob - made of sheep meat. Everything was delicious. The children talked with us and asked Liz and me for our autographs. I hadn't know that I would be meeting anybody and didn't bring any gifts. In fact, all I knew about the day was that we were going on an excursion in the two towns. Neither Liz nor I knew that we would be seeing each other.
It was great to see Liz and to be able to speak to her easily in English. She, too, is having a great time.
After dinner, the host at the farm showed us around their modern house. It was quite big. The man of the house saw me admire his large bottle of scotch and offered Liz and me first vodka and later, to me, scotch. He also made sure to show me his firearm collection in is office- many shot guns and a few rifles.
It was a lot of fun being outside in cold weather. I brought sufficient clothes so that I'm comfortable in the cold. Everyone enjoyed having a day off.
Tomorrow, I'll be visiting a lyceum in Yaroslavl. This is also the day when I have to register as a foreigner in this region. I'm looking forward to visiting some mathematics classes.
Bye for now.