|Taiga, through a rainy window.|
The second leg of the train journey went more quickly than the first. My cabin mates during the latest stretch on the train included a father and son, the latter of whom was probably about 8 years old and the apple of his father's eye. They spent most of the time playing video games together. In the bunk above mine was a leggy young woman whom I at first assumed was the mother, but due to her total lack of interaction with the other two, I eventually figured out that she was unrelated (confirmed by warm reunion with gentleman friend at the Novosibirsk train station). Her activities were confined to applying makeup and toying with her cellphone. In fact, everyone seemed most interested in keeping to themselves, so it seemed a good idea to follow their example. Despite the squawk of unending disco and pop that was piped into each cabin, I buried myself in a collection of Russian magic tales. My favorite involved a young malachite worker. Until visiting a geology museum in Yekaterinburg, I had forgetten that this stone, one of my favorites, is plentiful in the Urals. In any case, the worker, Danilushko, becomes so obsessed by his craft that he forsakes his wife to carve amongst a shadowy group of masters under the auspices of the "mistress of the mountain". His wife misses him so much that she takes up his old trade, seemingly guided by fate. Eventually, her loyalty moves the mistress of the mountain to allow the husband escape his obsession and return home.
|Yum - in earnest, this time.|
For most of the journey, we passed through a sort of taiga-savannah landscape. Marshy grasses, with yellow, white, and indigo flowers, surrounded clumps of birch. The name Pasquaney might apply better here than to the shores of Lake Newfound. The train stopped infrequently, and some of the more remote stations that we passed were simply referred to by their distance in kilometers from Moscow. Still, the line in the opposite direction was very busy due to a steady steam of freight trains bringing coal to the heavy manufacturing plants of the Urals. In the afternoon, we stopped at a town called Babinsk, where several babushkas prowled the platform, selling dried fish, fur hats, and various fresh fruits and vegetables. A cup of raspberries cost me 100 rubles.
|Wow, that is a long block!|
I'll get to Irkutsk in two days and will be staying there and in a town called Listvyanka on the lake for a total of three nights. Tschuss!