Svetlana’s nephew, Grisha, took us on a boat ride on the Bikin River,which has been called “Russia’s Amazon” because it flows though such a wild and lush forest. The river was at near flood stage, allowing us to to travel up shallow streams and over wetlands not normally under water. Svetlana’s sister, Vala, and her dog, Malish, also joined us. It was a beautiful day and the highlight of our trip.
We are traveling from Maine to the Russian Far East to a remote mountain village in a forest populated by a huge variety of creatures, including elk, wild boar and the Siberian tiger. Most of the people who live in the village are members of an indigenous tribe called Udegeh. This is the village where my wife, Svetlana, grew up. She has not been home to her village in 17 years. We will be traveling with our 16-year-old daughter, Ihila.
The village is some 8,200 miles to the west of our home in Yarmouth, Maine. But we will be traveling the other way around the globe, eastward, a distance of some 12,000 miles. While the journey is longer, it’s less expensive because air travel within Russia is less expensive. We will leave Saturday on a bus to NYC and then fly nine hours to Moscow and then another eight hours to Khabarovsk, a city of nearly 600,000 in the Russian Far East. Then we will travel by car about five hours to the village, Kransy Yar. Seventeen years ago, it was impossible to reach the village by car in summer, when the Bekin River was not frozen over. But a new bridge now makes summer travel by car possible.
Our daughter, Ihila, will also be contributing to this blog.