SECTOR A, CORPUS V
MOSCOW STATE UNIVERSITY – MOSCOW, RUSSIAN FEDERATION
AUGUST 17, 2012
Upon the Ending of the Summer Program of the SRAS 2012 Summer Program
Note: All had left to go home, and I had spent my days working, living, and studying in my room.
A loud ‘pop’ emanates from my macbook across the room – surely another of those Facebook blips that come with a message. And one the kind that wakes you up from a deep sleep on a Sunday morning. “..I just want to sleep.”
The message reads (in Russian)… “Trevor, I hope you haven’t forgotten about the Couch Surfing Meet Up today! Sunday, in South East Moscow, we are meeting by the Christ of the Ascension Church, near the Honey Festival.” Annual Honey Festival? Church? I have never been, but why not. I got ready, hit the Moscow State University stolovaya (cafeteria), and began the thirty minute trek (from my room in Sector V) to University Metro Station. And I wondered – “…I don’t even know this place, or anyone that will be at this ‘Couch Surfing’ meetings. What good is it to go. I could go to the gym instead.”
ANNUAL HONEY AND MEAD FESTIVAL, MOSCOW, RUSSIAN FEDERATION
UPON entering the metro station, and exiting onto street level, I couldn’t help but notice I was surrounded by just another outreach area of the Moscow City district full of everything you could expect to find – a run down movie theater, street vendors, babushkas selling local produce on the metro steps, and a bright blue sky above me. I asked for the location to the honey festival.
I find myself surrounded by beautiful weather and a flea market styled area full of honey. Jars, buckets, even storage containers, visibly filled to the [dripping] brim of HONEY. Cane honey, dark honey, Kazakh honey, Malaysian honey, and Honey from all side of Russia. Vendor by vendor, they all said, “Young man, try our honey! Take some home with you, take a gift!”
I was supposed to be going to a Couch Surfing Meet Up, and I knew hauling a bucket of honey to the Meet and Greep would’ve been closer to sketch. The next six hours would make up for this decision. On the levels of seeing my favorite religious site, and finding new ways to travel to other areas of Russia through other Couch Surfers.
Upon my journey to find the group of Couch Surfers, I found this sculpture exhibit unfolding across the parking lot. With sand sculptures of Saint Basils, to sculptures of famous Russian poets and authors spanning the past five hundred years. But this was nothing compared to what was in store for me. Christ the Ascension. I dare you to not fall in love. The sounds that carried across the summer breeze, the crisp clean Russian air, and under the fresh green grass – could not be ignored, or taken for granted.
GLIMPSE – CHURCH OF CHRIST ASCENSION – WHERE ARE THESE BELLS COMING FROM?
The Church of the Ascension, constructed in 1531, was the imperial estate of a suburban area of Southeast Moscow. It became a common summer dacha for the Russian elite, and even was the site of where Tsar ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) was born. The structure represents a traditional wooden tent-roofed church on top of stone and brick. It would go on to influence the development of future Russian styles. It is aUNESCO World Heritage site.
And experience like this resonated down to whatever it is that they call a ‘soul’ or something. I have never been religious, and I have never had a religious moment in my life. But among the summer breeze, and the beauty of the hills, the stunning white architecture, and a unanimously shared moment of pure awe – this shook me. The bells resonated across the area like some awakening force – you are here in Moscow. This is a true moment abroad, where even the humming and the bell resonance can be felt as it echoes and reverberates back to your chest.This was breathtaking. This was a moment not to be forgotten. Not five minutes from now. Not ever. This is a side of beauty in Russian that few people speak of.
Upon meeting at the Couch Surfer’s gathering, I met a dozen people, all of which I spent time playing volley ball, speaking with each other in Russian, and proposing ideas to travel. It was in this moment I fomented a plan to visit an area of Russia I had only dreamed of seeing – but didn’t have the logistic/linguistic know-how to truly get there. That land was Kazan. And that is a story to be featured later.
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