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Andrea is from Mexico. She is a journalist, a peace believer and an eager world traveller. She blogs for different online publications, writing on culture, environment, gender and international development. She fell in love with Russia after her travel in summer 2011.

A Mexican in Russia

: These were the first words I observed in a green signboard, as soon as I got out of Moscows airport. It was funny as I could not understand a wordwhat did it say there? For me, the very first mystery of this country was Cyrillic. An impressive language, very different from anything I had ever seen, and of course, I could not understand one word. At the same time, I thought it was fascinating, being this one of the factors that made me feel lost in this scenic country.

This summer I travelled to Moscow and Saint Petersburg on my own, making an inner reflection exercise, as some of you might have experienced before, in a foreign country as backpackers. I had some questions in my mind, as some stereotypes, about Russia before visiting it: I wondered if communism was still reflected in the architecture and arts, if there were malls, how impressive was the Kremlin was going to be, if there were a couple of McDonalds, Hard Rock or Starbucks and the answer was affirmative, all of these American chains have been in Russia for years now.

I had been told that Russian people were cold, serious and that they did not know a lot about hospitality. In my experience, this paradigm was broken, as I realized exactly the opposite: Russians are very welcoming with foreigners, just like Mexicans. When I made friends I discovered it just takes a few minutes to talk to people and break this invisible wall. I was moved by their kindness and sincerity. Mexicans, Russians, we are not as different as some people might think. If I liked one song in the house of my friend, she would give me the CD, If I wanted to go to a certain place, the whole family would come with me, if I was going to eat something, it was not correct that the guest paid.

As an average Mexican, what I missed the most when I was in Lenins homeland was the food of my country. Russia has an impressive culinary food tradition, with a variety of dishes that include cabbage, beetroot, potatoes, fish including cream and mayonnaise. Soups are delicious, especially the famous Borsh. I did not find any dish that came close to Mexican food; maybe this is why there are a few Mexican food restaurants in both cities that are quite popular.

Moscows underground transportation system left me breathless. The most beautiful subway in the world, where you feel so small next to those grandiose chandleries, as well as the mosaics and statues that commemorate important dates in Russian history. I got lost in the subway for a couple of hours, and I enjoyed it very much. The famous underground palace.

And did you bring back home Russian vodka? The most commonly asked question I have heard since I came back to Mexico. Yes, I brought vodka but it is not the only alcoholic beverage Russians drink, just as us Mexicans do not only have tequila. I also tried kvas, which tastes like beer but with a minimum alcohol content they literally call it liquid bread.

It has been a few weeks now that I came back from Russia to Mexico and I can assure you that my heart stayed in that country. A very rich cultural country, full of traditions, with a somewhat dark history, like many others, but with a brilliant present, which always leaves the visitor wanting to go back to explore and learn more about this beautiful nation.

October 17, 2011 13:35

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