Track Meet Derailed By Language And Long Train Ride

July 08, 1991|By Adrienne McCray

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 second of four parts.

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June 22

The coaches had another talk with us about our behavior and about our needing sleep because we had to run the next day. Again, I saw that they had a point and again I felt that they didn't understand where we were coming from.

On the train, when we had to eat, we had to go through the cars to get to the food box. Each time that we walked through everyone would look at us. The food on the trainwas edible. Most of the time all that we drank was hot tea and sometimes they had juice that was good.

At about 5 p.m. the train stopped because a storm knocked out a power line which fell on the tracks.They said we would be delayed for four hours, then it was an additional hour and each time the hour passed it was another hour. To make matters worse, the train's air conditioning was turned off and the bathrooms were locked. Also we were stopped in front of a public bathroom that we could smell on the train.

After a while, people needed to use the bathroom but the smell was enough to make you sick. After awhile I began to think that the Russians were doing this on purpose to keep us from running well. It worked for a little while but soon Icouldn't take it anymore.

I got up to go outside. On the way, ourchaperon could see in my face that something was wrong. She had a talk with me and got one of our Russian guides to open the bathroom on the train for me. I was so relieved. I then realized how stupid it was to think that this was being done on purpose. I went back into my room and then two of my teammates followed me and we stayed up the rest of the night talking.

*

June 23

Today, the train didn't start to move until about 3 p.m. I slept all day except for the times when they called us for lunch. The city that we were in seemed like itwas a little poor. There was a lot of farmland around us and there was a big trash bin right outside of our window that people would dig around in.

Our coaches tried to give a lady some money but she wouldn't accept it. When she left they put some food into a bag and put it in the trash bin. The people quickly took the food. That shows that those people had their pride.

Before we left we found that our big shot-putter was the big town news. Those people don't see too manyblacks and to see one that big was amazing.

Finally, though, the train started to move and all I could think was they they had better postpone the track meet.

When we finally got to Krasnadar we had seven minutes to get our things off the train so we had to work together again to get everything off. We were happy to get off of the train. Then all of a sudden it began to pour down raining. At this point, I was thinking nothing else could go wrong with this trip.

After we got our things together we went to meet our different families. This time I was with two girls and one boy. I felt a little more comfortable with this family but I still felt out of place. One of the girlscould speak a little English.

The coaches told us that we were going to still have the track meet but it was going to start at 7 and they would turn on the lights. Meanwhile, we would go with the families and get ready.

As soon as I got back I met the rest of the family. This family lived in a house and was a lot cleaner so I took it that they were probably the upper middle class, maybe even upper class.The girls wore make-up and had reddish tints in their brown hair. Later on, I found out that the more make-up that you wore the more money you had.

The house was nice. You had to take off your shoes and put on slippers before you walked around in it. They gave me a room of my own to stay in. As soon as I got there they let me take a bath. Then we ate dinner and we had corned beef and potatoes. I ate like I never ate before. That dinner tasted so good.

Afterward, I broughtout my gift to them. I gave them a little plate and cup with Maryland painted on them and I gave them an address book with pictures of Maryland sights on every page. They really liked that.

Then we went to the track meet. When we got there we found that all of the teams couldn't wait and were sent home, all except the team from Krasnadar.

Our team wore uniforms and sweats that were alike so we looked good. When we did our laps we had the girls run in lane one and the boysrun in lane three. As we ran around, the crowd began to cheer for usand someone brought out flowers for us. Then we all sat down and stretched out together.

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