Saturday 21st – Spassky Fair part 2
continued from previous blog;
I broke my usual shopping allergy and crammed my bag with goodies, so many wonderful things and all for just pence, I bought a red army hat which swamps me. Now usually a rare foreigner, alone, at a fair with so many folks, you automatically guard your pockets and watch you aren’t short changed. I was able to ask how much things cost and explain I didn’t understand Russian so asked people to write the prices down. For one lucky charm I thought they were asking for 300rubs ( around £6 ), fair enough a lovely hand made wee thing, the maker singing joyfully on stage at the time.
I handed the money and they were mortified, handing it back, the item was only 30 rubs ( 60p ), this sort of honesty seemed to be the norm and I felt completely safe wondering about making hand signs and rudimentary communication.
I managed to catch the amazing artist Anotoli at his table, he is a force of nature, with Viking blond hair, taller than most Tartars, usually sporting a birch bark head band or cap. It was brilliant to communicate with him, both speaking our own language but art making it make perfect sense.
Somewhat of a show man, I got dragged into sharing his lunch and partaking in a rather large herbal vodka ( in a oner of course ) much to the delight of other stall holders and passers by, this was the strongest stuff yet & nearly took my head off ( I remembered immediately afterwards Alex’s warning about dodgy vodka making you blind or killing you- oh dear). We swopped art and I am delighted to have a couple of his gouache landscapes with will invoke this trip for me, as well as some of his more esoteric figurative prints.
Lunch, back to the fair, eventually in a dream from so many sights and sounds, and a teary moment when the beautiful music, laughter, bright colours and pure honest joy I see in these people got a bit much- then met back up with Shinod and Lynn who’d been getting photographed all day. Very weird for us to be the centre of attention, but me & Lynn tend to get curious stares rather than the direct photo requests that Shinod does. I did have a couple come up & want to shake my hand as they’d seen me in the newspaper. Surreal.
After supper a group of us headed up through the old town, in high spirits, to go to the tower to see the sunset after seeing the sunrise there earlier in the trip. The old town is amazing , ricketty wooden buildngs with goats, veg plots, dogs, highly decorative wooden carvings, crack willlow trees, old vehicles all over looked by the high escarpment with the town on top and then wide serene river meandering to the left.
Behind us the historic part of the city gleaming in the setting sun.
there were steep steep steps zig zagging up.
Shinod was being his usual cheeky self so we Scottish girls raced him to the top puffed out looking across the incredible landscape full of laughter.
We met up with the others & went into the baroque style restaurant where surreally enough there was a sort of disco and karaoke, Russian style.
We danced on the balcony, we danced on the dance floor, Shinod doing a dance off with drunk Russian man, we ate delicious ice cream( marajock ? ) and drank Russian black tea ( ch-ai ). A long moonlit night walk home the now familiar route.
we saw the sun rise and the sun set from this place, a nice round off for the trip before everyone drifted away over the next couple of days.