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  • Martijn

Traveling to Russia, in time if not in space

Russia has a reputation of being difficult (or even prohibited) to fly in for foreigners. Luckily, just before the lock-down, I had found this great company (MAK aviation services) that was going to help us navigate the most Eastern part of Russia -the one where Kamchatka lies- which we need to cross before hopping to Alaska through the Bering strait. Note: our kitchen-wall world map has done wonders to our geographical culture, I highly recommend one! Yes, crossing the Bering strait is indeed a VERY long time away but before we even start the journey, we want to make sure that it is feasible given the range of the airplane and all the places we'd like to visit. After an initial email to MAK, we got a great answer, explaining exactly how we should fly, where fuel is available etc... and then a few days later another one: Russia airspace closed to foreigners until further notice. Those who know me appreciate how (im)patient I am, so I immediately switched to plan B: the reading of "Quietly flows the Don" by Russian Nobel prize winner Mikhail Sholokhov. Its 1376 pages, written in small font of course, took me through the Southern part of his country for about 4 weeks (! Je maintiendrai!), sharing the life of Cossacks in the turbulent WWI, Russian revolution and counter-revolution/civil war between 1912 and 1920 (i.e a longer, bloodier and more entangled chaos than Dr. Zhivago). Unless you like really lengthy and intricate epic novels with detailed accounts of military operations in towns with difficult names, I would not recommend the book but hopefully it has braced me for any Russian complexities to come (when we get there, in a very long time). It's also quite an effective antidote to Covid-19 blues: things can get a lot worse, let's hope they don't.



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