Editor's note: Adrienne McCray, a 16-year-old track athlete at NorthCounty High School, recently returned from a 10-day trip sponsored by Pangaea Inc. to compete in the Soviet Union. McCray, The Anne Arundel County Sun's Female Track Athlete of the Year, kept a daily diary,which details her experiences on her first trip outside the United States. This is the first of four parts.
The first day that we, the Pangaea Team, spent in Russia was an experience all by itself. As soon as we got off the plane, we began to feel like foreigners.
The Soviet Union has very few blacks, so many heads turned as we walked together through the airport.When we stepped outside of the terminal, a bus was waiting for us. Also, there were many people waiting with flowers. The first thing that we noticed when we stepped outside was it wasn't cold, as we were told to expect. In fact, it was about 80 degrees.
On the bus, they told us that we would then be going to the Hotel Olympian for breakfast and to drop our things off so that we could tour Moscow. When we arrived at the hotel, it looked nice on the outside. We unloaded all of our things and went inside to find that we had to go up two flightsof steps before we got to the elevator. The elevators were about one-third the size of our hotel elevators.
Next, we went into the rooms and we all just stood there in amazement. The rooms looked more like college dorms. The rooms themselves were very small. They had small single beds and everything was wood. The bathrooms were the real turn-off. The toilets were small with hard wood seats. The tub was likea big sink with a shower head that you had to hold up, and it had noshower curtain.
Then we went to breakfast. For breakfast we were given coffee. The thing about their coffee and their tea is they leave grounds in the bottom of the cup. One girl tried to drink the coffee and made an ugly face, so nobody else tried it. We went without breakfast.
Next, our Soviet guide took us on a tour. First, we went to the TV tower and listened to a speech about the tower in Russian. Our interpreter was very hard to understand so we all ended up laughing at the end. Then, they took us to the top of the TV tower for lunch.
On the way, we got a lot of attention from the people around us.One woman ran up to us, jumped out in front of us, screamed and wentaway laughing. In another incident, one boy from our team who wears his pants down below his waist line was walking along. A Russian woman walked up behind him and pulled his pants up because she thought that they were falling off.
Only the rich can afford to have lunch in the TV tower. From the tables in the tower you can look out over the whole city of Moscow. Also, while you sit there, the building is slowly revolving so you can see all around the city. By lunch time, we were pretty hungry. When they brought us each a plate of caviar our mouths just dropped.
They brought out a plate of almost scrambled eggs with sour cream and chicken mixed in. Then they brought us apple juice with ice cubes. We couldn't drink the juice because of the ice cubes. Water in Russia has bacteria that Americans aren't used to andthat could make us sick.
This was the first time we got to use our Russian-English dictionaries to try to ask the waiters to bring us something American. Finally, the last thing that they brought out wasa bowl of ice cream, which tasted different. Later, I found out thatit had been made with goat's milk. We didn't eat lunch.
Next, theguides took us to the Kremlin and into a museum that displayed the belongings to kings and queens in the past. It was very interesting. Afterward, we headed home.
On the way they stopped the bus and toldthe American adults to get off and leave us with the Soviets who would take us back to the hotel for dinner. When we got back to the hotel, we found that we missed dinner. All that was left to eat were coldpancakes with butter and hard-boiled eggs that were blue on the inside. We didn't eat.
We all went back to our rooms and got ready forbed; and, to my surprise, ants had already claimed my bed so I didn't sleep that night. Instead, most of the group gathered together in one room where we spent the night talking. We got to know each other better. The whole night I was waiting for our chaperones to tell us that the whole thing was just a joke and take us somewhere else.
Today, we got up and everyone was super hungry and thirsty because the Russians hadn't gotten our bottled water yet. We all went downstairs for breakfast early to make sure we didn't miss it. When we got our plates everyone's noses once again turned up at what wesaw. They gave us noodles and some type of meat that I had never seen in my life.
They gave us some hot tea. The noodles were all right even though they were a little dry, but the tea hit the spot a little bit even though it was almost 80 degrees outside.