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Jim and Irina: "I was looking for someone very special and I indeed found her: drop dead gorgeous"

I enjoyed very much your sage words and advice. I too went to Russia to seek a wife. I was looking for someone very special and I indeed found her. You are really correct that the Russian names are really limited. The women I found was named Irina. She was drop dead gorgeous to say the least but she had a personality to match her looks and that was truly a rare gift. I met her early on in my search and I think I spent nearly two years after meeting her trying to see if there was someone out there that could top her and never did. I travel often and arranged to meet Irina the first time in Barcelona. We met there at a nice hotel that a business associate set up for me. I had business there for a few days and then we took a boat to Mallorca. 

When I first laid eyes on her she literally took my breath away. I knew this was a fabulously beautiful woman from her pictures but nothing prepared me for what I saw there. I literally had to pinch myself to believe this was really happening. I saw her again in Budapest two months later and the following month in her home town in Petrozavodsk, Russia. 

Your thoughts on Russia and it's people are amazingly accurate and I could write a book on my experiences too. We continued our world wide meeting agenda and I went back to Moscow to meet her and once again to her home town. Anyway, after three years of  meeting in the Caribbean and other places where Russian women can get into without a visa we decided to try for a K-1 visa. I got a lawyer that was local and specialized on these visas. It's not easy but she was granted a visa in December and arrived shortly thereafter. We were married in March and I think in October she will finally get her status fully adjusted. 

Sorry to go on and on here but I just was motivated to write you after reading your letter. Good luck to you and Elena but it looks like you two don't need luck as you have succeeded in life's lottery. I guess I really just wanted to say that your experiences were so similar I surely could relate to what you experienced. 

 

 Jim and Irina
Jim and Irina

   

Interesting experiences

I had many interesting experiences during my three trips to Russia. I guess the first one was when I first travelled to Russia. We landed in St. Petersburg and spent three days there. We took the train to Irinas' home city of Petrozavodsk. The Russian trains are very efficient and punctual albeit fairly Spartan. When we settled into our compartment and got ready for the trip I had my shoes off and decided to visit the restroom. I walked up the aisle to the restroom where I was met by a passenger who put out his arm to me and stopped me from entering the restroom. He didn't speak a word of English and I had no idea why he was restraining me. Finally he pointed to the restroom floor to show me it was wet and offered me his shoes to enter so my socks wouldn't get wet. I was amazed at this behavior by a total stranger on this train. I couldn't imagine this ever happening in my country. 

St Petersburg

One time in St. Petersburg we went to a little hole in the wall money exchange office to exchange some dollars into rubles. Irina has quite a sense of humour and we were laughing and discussing something that had struck us very funny. The cashier behind the glass looked at us with a very nasty look and told us that we better not laugh since we were in an exchange office and this was serious business. The problem was not we really started to laugh since if you were to see this place it's hardly anything you would think we should show any reverence.  

Moscow

On a trip to Moscow we decided to visit a little resort about an hour outside of the city. We read the brochure and it all sounded wonderful. Here's where I learned something about Russian life. Everything you will ever try to do will turn into an adventure and you pretty much better get used to it or you will be constantly irritated and disappointed. We hired a driver to take us there who insisted he knew where it was. He had no clue and this one hour drive ended up taking us 4 hours or more. He drove there by asking people where this place was and eventually by asking enough people he found someone that actually knew where it was and gave us the directions. 

When we arrived nothing that was promised in the brochure was actually available. They said they accept credit cards and had an exchange office there on the property. Neither was true. We had dollars and credit cards but couldn't use them. We scraped enough money together to pay for the room. They said they have fishing, boating, horseback riding and a swimming pool. Well, there was no fishing or boating as there was no water. We never found any horses and the swimming pool had yet to be actually construction. They advertised you could barbecue your food in a park like setting but there was no wood or charcoal. 

We managed to get someone to exchange some American dollars for local currency so we could at least sit in the bar and drink a few tall cool ones to relax. When we were set to depart they inspect your  room to see you haven't taken anything. They told us we had taken some towels and charged us for them. No matter how we insisted we never took any towels they wouldn't believe it and we ended up paying for towels. 

We figured at least that the taxi driver would at least be able to find Moscow as it was much easier to get home than find this place originally. We were once again wrong. The driver picked us up and told us he didn't want to take us to Moscow as he had worked all night and was tired. They he drive us all over hill and dale to find his friend to take us. When that failed he decided to take us himself. We arrived at the very outskirts of Moscow and probably 30-40 miles from our hotel and promptly announced that that's as far as he would go since he didn't know his way around Moscow. So were left off on the sidewalk in some area of the city where we had no idea where we were and had to find transportation to our hotel. 

City officials turn off the hot water

Once again, an adventure in every single thing we had done and you really just have to roll with the punches or you will set yourself up for some major disappointments. I have always travelled in June or July and you have to realize that this is the time the city officials turn off the hot water to the apartments while they service the boilers. The residents will be without hot water for up to 30 days. I ended up washing my hair in a bucket of water that was heated over the stove. 

The amazing thing to all this is the people never complain as they accept all these inconveniences as just part of life in Russia. It seemed to me that the way they do almost anything in Russia is just about the reverse of what they do here in America. For the life of me I couldn't understand why they do the things they do. 

Nothing is ever easy

The most simple and basic transaction you need to make are all amazingly complicated. Nothing is ever easy and you have to accept this as just the way things are. We needed a simple piece of paper signed and it took almost 4 hours before this could get done. They kept saying come back in an hour and then another hour and so on. From what I saw the people follow directions and orders with an almost innate ability. There is a procedure for everything and no one will deviate from this procedure no matter what the circumstances. It's certainly not like anything I have ever seen before. My experiences were really more memorable than bad. The people are intelligent, kind and will go out of their way to help you. I heard horror stories about what to expect and watch out for. I can honestly say I never had a single problem or was in a situation where I ever felt unsafe or could be in trouble.

Jim


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