Marianna and Jeff, two kids from a different world trying to make it as Irina and I. Marianna is 23 from Belarus while Jeff 27 grew up in New York they met on a visit to Bahrain and fell in love. We are sitting next to each other on the plane from Poland, I overhear her teaching him Russian so my ears perk up, as usual, my mouth opens and words fly out. Teaching Ruski flies out of my mouth, they look quizzically but politely as I say I’m learning Ruski. We exchange pleasantries and Marianna helps two lost souls in a land far, far away. She helps me fill out a form needed at the passport check in, the plane lands and we walk together talking as I notice Armed Military Soldiers at the exit and entrance of the Belarusian check in. We get in line Jeff steps up to the window and a female military officer inspects his Visa but something is out of the ordinary. She takes his Visa to an office while another soldier looks over the Visa, they return escorting Jeff and Marianna off to another part of the building as they walk away, believe their dream has come to an end
I step up to the window realizing that this is no joke getting into a dictatorial country something I really didn’t take seriously. I am scrutinized from top to bottom, my Visa and Passport are checked, rechecked looked at under a blue light for forgery and a monocle is used to look closely and my signature, she politely asked if I was on invitation, luckily I had been studying my Russian and knew what she had asked, I answered Da as a 6″ thick glass door swung open welcoming me to Belarus.
My 1st meeting of Irina: I waited with high hopes, then I walked into her space, I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely facetime lady, and she said, “Wow it´s you” we laughed for a moment, and then took a long embrace. We leaned back holding each other staring at each other’s face, with no other options we communicated with our first kiss. It felt like a lifetime in coming but never felt out of place. We took each other’s hand as we had known the feeling for a lifetime. I met Irena’s brothers Sergei’s girlfriend Svetlana a shy young lady with a huge smile and welcoming face. Next came Sergei with a welcoming smile and a hug for a friend. All is well in a car driving down the road 3 Russians and 1 American trying to bring both worlds together through facial expressions, and different languages. We all laughed till we cried Sergei dropped us off at our hotel bid us goodbye, we were alone to fend for ourselves. I’m glad I did it this way though we struggle with language barriers it has been exciting and fun to struggle to understand each other.
This is my second day in Belarus; we are staying at a 5-star hotel, which cost 42.00 dollars a day. My view is a beautiful lake and parks down below; we are also next to an arena, which hosts all sporting events. As I look around Belarus, I realize I am not in Kansas anymore. The night-lights are beautiful with lots of colors; the air is crisp, cold but manageable. They have walkways that cross under the streets like our subways, the acoustics are a musician’s dream, if I could only sing or play I’d perform every day. I danced and sang songs while we were walking through Irina laughed all else thought I was crazy but that’s par for the course.