Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bridges between... - a new monthly meme

RuneE has established this new monthly meme, "Bridges between..." Watch for it here around the first Monday of each month. The rules are here. The official list of participants will be found at RuneE's blog. Both the image and the story are important, and the broadest possible concept of "Bridge" is acceptable. That is why my first Bridge post does not even have a bridge in it at all.

So now you may be wondering why my first "Bridges between..." post starts with an old boat.

This boat, photographed on our trip to Russia in 1998, was used to patrol for poachers on the Ob River in central Siberia.
Everything about our trip to Siberia was, well, surprising, starting from the e-mail from our son. I can remember the words exactly: "Natasha and I had Fr. Darius over for dinner and asked him if he would marry us in June..."

Chris had worked in Siberia on several three month assignments having to do with the computerization of a huge aluminum plant. When the project was complete, he went back to study, met a girl... and the rest is history...

As it happened, some red tape prevented the wedding from taking place until later in the year. But if you have non-refundable, non-transferable airline tickets to Siberia, might as well go to Siberia.

Now, there are any one of a number of stories that could be told about this trip, and have--often. But this one started with an isolated university student and a passion for quilting that was tied to the Internet. Surprisingly, on a quilting forum one day that spring, I found a post seeking help in getting quilting history information for a thesis on quilting by a student finishing her degree. In the ensuing conversations, I mentioned that we happened to be coming to Siberia in June. And, so, well, again the rest is history...
Kargasok is a fifteen hour trip by boat on the Ob River from Novosibirsk. No, not this boat--a fast boat. The trip is made north on odd days and south on even days, so a visit must be at least two days. There had been American businessmen there before in connection with the oil firm that is headquartered there, but we were the first American tourists to visit.
We spent the first day being shown the entire town--the museum, the church, the library, the newspaper office, the market. (Or were we being shown TO the town?) We were never quite sure where we would visit next, but we followed our hosts, Alexsei and Ulia and our interpreter, Tatiana. Near the end of the day we were shown to the offices of the district government, shown around, and introduced to a gentleman whose position best translates as assistant district director.
We visited in his office for a bit, and wondered where we would be going next. Then, at exactly five o'clock, he stood up and said, in effect, come on. Apparently the work day was over, so we followed. He led us across the road to the boat previously shown, which we boarded.
That is Justin, then 18, boarding the boat. Yes, I had to walk that plank, too. That was the only way to board the patrol boat. It is the part of this post that physically resembles a bridge. Once we were all aboard we relaxed and cruised the Ob for about an hour.

While we were cruising, my husband and the assistant district director discussed many issues, including social problems and how they were handled in each country, a bit of economics, and mosquitoes. Here they are deep in discussion, with Tatiana translating.

I must admit, when we purchased those tickets to Siberia, we did not expect to be cruising a distant river discussing a variety of serious issues with the assistant district director.
But the next surprise was when the boat pulled up to an island in the river and we all disembarked. The assistant district director started gathering wood and built a campfire.
And we had supper. Fish soup, to be exact. I was asked to serve.

So, what did this have to do with bridges? Think about the idea of a bridge being a connection between two places. A bridge of stone or steel links these places physically. But our cruise on the Ob River served as a bridge between two peoples, sharing ideas, problems, solutions, and food and some fun relaxation.
We have lost touch with Alexsei and Ulia over the years through a number of computer crashes and e-mail address changes, but I think of them often. So Alexsei, if you happen upon this when you do a Google search, leave a comment. We can rebuild the bridge.


Daniel J Santos said...

Very interesting, excellent post with same great photos, well done.

ANNA-LYS said...

Thank You Katney, check back again on my answer, please. I will be back, here, too. It is 3 o´clock in the morning here, and I must sleep before reading Your post. My eyes already do :-)

(( hug ))

Paulie said...

I like your take on bridges also. You have a great memory to remember this. . . I suppose photos help jog the mind also!

RuneE said...

A fascinating story and as good an example of a Bridge between... - between people in this case - as I can think of. Exactly why we said "broad interpretation".

In fact, there were many fine interpretations of Bridges here.


Hyde DP said...

That is a great story - we have made at least a couple of friends through internet connections and ended up visiting them - one in New Zealand and one in California.

imac said...

Nice story and nice photo, you have made a great post here, what a lovely Bridges Between.

Dragonstar said...

What a great post Katney, and great memories, too. That certainly counts as a Bridge Between cultures.

HildeS. said...

Thank you for a interesting story:)

Anemone said...

So very very interesting to read, and a long post that has learnd me nothing.

Thanks to you.

Nice day wishes you from Norway.

Pernille's ting og tang said...

Nice photos and I like your bridge to day:)
Have a nice day:)

ANNA-LYS said...

I'm back!
and with Eyes Opened :-D

I think your post has many many more bridges than You did mention. Are You aware of that?


GundaM said...

Nice story and photos.
Love fromNorway;)

Marie said...

Great post!

Have a nice day:)

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Fabulous, heartwarming post.Love your take on "Bridges Between." Excellent kickoff for a friend-building meme.

Truls said...

Great post. Bridges appare in the strangest places.

Janet said...

I hope you find your friends!

Lew said...

Very appropriate bridge story! And a fascinating trip to another part of the world - geographically and culturally.

lisa marie said...

Looks like a scary way to enter the boat. I'm a fraid I would have crawled up it.

GAWO said...

This is a great story. It must be fun to meet friends from the internett. My be one day I will do that too :-)