Hello from Yakutsk!
As you know, I left Jamaica on the third Thursday of August and arrived in Yakutsk on the following Monday, after a brief couple of days in Russia’s capital city. Although it will be out of sequence, I’ve decided to give you guys a glimpse into my life of the past week before I catch you up on my two days spent in Moscow and my journey from there to Yakutsk. So for the next few posts, I’ll tell you a bit about where I now live and work.
First of all, I now have my own place.
Let’s just sit with that statement for a minute. Let’s allow the implications of that statement to sink deep into our consciousness. After two and a half years of bumming it in other people’s space, I have my own place again. Full disclosure: my employer is providing the roof over my head so it’s technically not really my place but you get what I’m saying. Even as I’m writing this, I’m still not sure the enormity of the reality of being in my own space has sunk in yet, which I’m blaming on jet lag.
My apartment consists of three rooms and an entry way. Coming in the front door, the bedroom is to the left, the bathroom is to the right, and the kitchen is straight ahead with an enclosed balcony off it that looks out over the back of the building. Three rooms sounds small but it’s actually quite spacious. The bedroom could easily fit two queen-sized beds plus the wardrobe and TV stand/storage unit that’s in there, and the kitchen has a decent sized table and chairs with lots of space left over. The bathroom has a full sized bathtub and a washing machine. The temperature inside the apartment is very comfortable so I’m glad that I brought light sleeping and lounging-around-the-house clothes (I got a tip from a previous employee, that’s how come I knew ahead of time what at-home clothes to bring). I understand that the central heating will be turned on in a few weeks when it starts getting properly cold. As a point of reference, the temperature has been in the mid-sixties over the past week and should stay there for this week.
The first thing I did once I was dropped off from the airport last Monday and given a tour of my new place was pray over every room as I did a walk-through, because I wanted to start out in the space on the right foot spiritually. Then I got busy cleaning. To be fair, the place wasn’t filthy but I find that I can’t move into a place where someone else was living and just start living there without doing my own cleaning, just to make sure it’s up to my cleanliness standards. So I got down to it and about three hours later, I was done cleaning and unpacking.
I unpacked everything I brought with me.
Let’s sit with that statement for a minute, as well. This warrants a moment of contemplation because I’ve been living out of a suitcase or bag of some sort for every single day of the past two and a half years, including when I’ve been at my parents’ house. Even there, I was always going into a storage suitcase to get something I needed or to put something away that I knew I wouldn’t need to use for a long while. I certainly didn’t unpack everything in Indonesia. First of all, the place was so dirty that I wanted to minimise the contact my stuff made with the atmosphere in general. There, too, I often went into a suitcase for some reason or other. Other than in those environments, the rest of my time over the past two and a half years have been spent visiting hotel rooms or friends’ and relatives’ guest rooms for short stints that never warranted unpacking.
A few days before I left Jamaica, I had a moment of wondering if I was taking too much stuff with me. Having been travelling light for over two years now, I seriously felt burdened by all my luggage and worried a little that perhaps I was bringing along some unnecessary items. My sister talked me off that ledge and I’m really glad that she did. I can see now that I absolutely made the right decision when it came to everything that I brought with me (not surprising since I prayed over every packing decision). And with everything unpacked, it actually doesn’t seem like so much after all.
Once I moved into my place, the only thing that bothered me was a weird and nasty smell. It wasn’t evident when I arrived but within a few hours (by that evening, in fact), it was pretty high and permeated the entire place in waves. No amount of Febreze (handy dandy travel size) could conquer the bad odour. When I asked about it at work the next morning, my local co-workers surmised that it had to do with the pipes and they used drain cleaner to try to solve the problem for me. That worked partially but I could still smell it so they had a maintenance person come and sort it out properly so there’s no smell bothering me anymore. Also, my bed isn’t the most comfortable ever but it’s not backbreaking like that monstrosity I was sleeping on in Jakarta so I’m not complaining, and I’ve actually gotten used to it over the past week.
At home (ha! That’s the first time I’ve used that word in regard to where I live for two and a half years!) I don’t have wifi, so my laptop isn’t connected to the internet there. However, I have a local sim card with a data plan so I’m always connected through my phone. For now, I’ll take my laptop to work a few times a week so that I can use the wifi there, mainly to post my blog entries and get software updates. If I find that I absolutely need it at home, I’ll have wifi installed. Other than that, I have everything I need for now.
My apartment is in the same building as my job so my commute to work is brilliant – I simply take the elevator or stairs down, walk outside and around to the front of the building then down the sidewalk a few steps, up another set of stairs, and I arrive at work. Additionally, I have 2 mini marts at my disposal that are in the same building. One sells fruits at vegetables; I’m sure they’re at a premium but on cold winter days I’m definitely not taking a bus to the farmer’s market to get fresh produce when I can pay a little more and get the essentials downstairs. What I can’t get, I’m pretty sure I can live without. Also, my fridge is small (like hotel room fridge size) and not very cold, so I can see that I’ll be re-stocking with fresh food fairly frequently.
Finally, my jet lag this time around has been different from my previous jet lag experiences, perhaps because I tackled the fourteen-hour time difference in two stages: eight hours between Jamaica and Moscow, and stop for a couple of days, then six hours between Moscow and Yakutsk.
On my first day here, after sleeping for a grand total of less than seven hours over the previous two days, I fell asleep just before 6 pm and thought for sure that I’d be out for a good twelve hours at least. Nope, didn’t happen. I woke up just after 9 pm and was up for the rest of the night. I caught up with a few friends on Whatsapp, listened to podcasts and did logic puzzles, trying to either relax or exhaust my mind so I could go to sleep, especially since I had to report to work late the next morning and would have a long day. None of it worked and I finally gave up at around 2:45 am, officially starting my day by spending time with God then getting some writing done. Later in the morning I got another hour and a half of sleep before I had to get up and get ready for work. Happily, within the next couple of days, my body sorted itself out and joined me in this time zone. Now, I’m back to peacefully sleeping eight hours each night.
So, that’s my living situation. Next time I’ll catch you up on my working situation.