|Life: Take THAT! Me: Okay|
So we decided to go around to the other gate. Just a block or two, we thought. But Moscow, being a mega-city, doesn't have normal blocks. It has mega-blocks, if you will. Every now and then you'll encounter an alley that seems to take you on a shortcut to where you want to go. But no, it's a dead end, which means you have now added even more time to your walk. Finally, an hour and a half later, we found the other entrance. (In between we found a random open gate and went through it, only to have the guard yelling at us in Russian and crossing his arms like an X, the universal sign for "get the f*ck out.") When we got to the main entrance of the zoo, it also appeared closed. But then we saw a woman, a child, and a dog walk in, so we decided to follow suit. A moment later, another guard appeared, and Kim was rather rudely removed from the zoo premises, along with the dog. We all stood looking mournfully at the zoo for a moment before going our separate ways.
After carrying a 35-pound sack of whiny potatoes (did I mention we didn't have a stroller?) for nearly two hours, we collapsed in a heap inside our apartment on the Embassy compound. I managed to find enough strength in my wobbly arms to flip through our little Moscow handbook. And there it was. "Zoo: closed on Mondays."
I feel like Russia has been telling me "niet" for about seven months now. I try to speak in Russian and I get blank stares. I go into a department store and I get followed like I'm a common criminal. I try to win people over with my charming American smile, but I get nothing in return. It's utterly exhausting. Which is why we've been traveling so much, but that takes its toll too. Life, they say, is a bitch. And this one wears a babushka and has an affinity for pickled fish.