“You must really hate this job.” That’s what my boss said
when I told him I was moving from San Diego to Siberia for a
year. In reality, I was bored and looking for something that
would be completely and utterly new. Whether it was
sunstroke or a developing tolerance to margaritas, San Diego
just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Heck, I hadn’t even gone to
the beach in nine months and it was only a few blocks away.
Time to rediscover a zest for life.
As you are doing now, I trolled the Internet looking for
that rare opportunity that would renew my vigor and let me
brag to my domesticated friends. Pick coffee in the South
Pacific? No, I already drink too much of it. Sail around the
world on a container ship? No, I wasn’t ready for
involuntary self-reflection. Before I knew it, I had agreed
to move to a city in Siberia known as Chita. Yes, I was
going to be a professor at Chita State Technical University
through a program put together by Siberian Intercultural
Bridges. Donate – they need the money:
So, what does one take for a one-year stay in Siberia? Why,
I’ll just go buy a guidebook on Siberia and read the “what
to take” section. My search of the local mega bookstore was
disappointing. Shockingly, there were no guidebooks for
Siberia. I was tempted to write a nasty letter to Lonely
Planet and others until the bookstore clerk said, “You’re
going WHERE?” When she started giving me the “you must be a
criminal on the run” look, it was time to go.
Fortunately, I was able to find experienced travelers that
could provide me with the details and items that were
absolutely necessary. My girlfriend gave me the
all-important electric blanket, a power converter and
intimate details about what would happen to me if I should
dare share it with another women. Grandpa gave me a World
War II down coat that was about three sizes to big and made
me look like a walking gopher. Family, friends and random
strangers contributed further items and advice that would be
critical to my survival.
Apparently rating my chances of survival at 50-50, friends
and family put together a going away/never see him again
party the day before I left. Of course, everyone brought
Vodka as a humorous going away gift. The tide quickly
turned, however, as all were asked/forced to try a “taste of
Russia.” Many of the events of that night will remain
forever sealed in antiquity, but it should suffice to say
that the wife of one friend went into labor which made it a
very fun night and subsequent day for him at the hospital.
Few got off so easily.
Gigantic backpack, electric blanket, hangover and I headed
to the airport the next morning. But that’s a story for part
2 of this nomad adventure travel series…
Rick Chapo is with
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