Olympic Rings and Torch

Happy Valentine’s Day America! Family, friends, and those little chalk candy heart things, I miss you all.

For those who have asked, I have no Russian bride yet to spend Valentine’s Day with. My thriller of a day will involve a lot of dudes in tights prancing about on skates.

Posts have slowed down here–and on several of my friends’ Sochi blogs as well–likely because we’ve all fallen into the rhythm of our new-found everyday life.

Food. Work. Food. Sleep. Repeat.

I don’t have an off day until after closing ceremonies, but I’m going to try to get up early one morning and visit friends in the Mountain Cluster to see what it’s like up there. I’m also planning to ride into Sochi proper one evening after we wrap up Short Track. I’ll keep you posted.

I’m currently scheduled to work both the Olympics and the Paralympics, however, there is a week in between that I’ll be traveling back home. I thought it might work out for me to stay here during that off week, but instead I’ll be headed home for few days before returning.

I am entertaining the possibility of extending my trip by a week after the Paralympics and doing some exploring, though. I’m not sure when else I’d have the time–and visa–to tour places like Moscow or St. Petersburg again, so I’d be crazy not to.

That’s one thing that this experience has done for me so far. It’s reinforced the notion that all it takes to travel is, well, to travel. I landed here without knowing the language, where to eat, or how to buy a bottle of water.

And the first few days sucked a little bit.

Then the hotel filled with strangers became more of a dorm filled with friends. After a few days, dinner was an easily handled task and there was the safety net of a nearby McDonald’s. I figured out which bottles of water contained soda water and which didn’t. Hint: always choose the light blue label.

I tried most of the pastries at our corner store until I found the ones that didn’t have a toothpaste-like filling. My friend Bryan and I succeeded–after cherades involving a chicken dance and pretending he was giving birth to an egg–in finding a good breakfast omelet and proper cup of coffee.

Sure, I’ve traveled a little before, but rarely to a non-English speaking country. In both Romania and Guatemala I was with people who lived there and had no problems speaking English.

Granted, even here there was a degree of hand-holding. I am here with several other people from the company I’m working for–they’d already worked out most of our travel and lodging. But there has still been enough independence to give me the feeling that I could do it if I had to. If I needed to. If I wanted to.

For years I’ve heard and read stories of people traveling to far off places like Thailand and Indonesia and Malaysia just for the fun of it. For the experience. I never seriously considered doing something like that myself because I really didn’t think it was something I could pull off. It was so far outside of my realm of understanding that I never thought of it as an option.

I was reading last night before bed and again had the realization that I’m in frickin’ Russia. Reading Jack Higgins and watching Die Hard will lead you to believe this place is full of villains. And maybe it is, but I certainly haven’t met them–the people I’ve met are awesome.

It’s all a bit hard to wrap my head around just yet. If it’s possible for someone like me to travel to a place as seemingly “off limits” as Russia and figure out how to do life and make friends, suddenly the world is a much larger place, just begging to be explored.

Bo is currently based in Orange Beach, Alabama working towards checking #31 off his bucket list. If you’d like to be a part of the adventure, consider sponsoring a mile. To get more info on the curriculum, sign up here. Also, he’d like to apologize to his mother for using the word “ass” in the title of this post.