Today is the last day we will be here in Russia and I feel a bit sad about that. Siberia has been good to us. Especially the amazing Lake Baikal region. It is just glorious here. Yesterday we started the day at an open air museum where we wondered through old houses, schools, churches, farm yards etc that belonged to the Baikal region back in the day...some of the houses were very old and others had picture of Stalin, old record players and more contemporary icons displayed. It was really lovely for me because I got to spend time in homes built from the Sacred Russian Cedar tree and then I was honoured enough to be able to see many of the Heavenly trees and to top it all I was even able to eat one of the Sacred Siberian Cedar Nut...I think if I have any more Cedar experiences I may explode from the Joy! My excitement stems from reading Anastasia a book by Vladmir Megre...here's a quote about the trees I just read from http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1576/ that might interest you:
The tale says the Russian (Siberian) Cedars (Pinus siberica), stand for centuries absorbing cosmic energy from the Sun, planets, ethers and stars. Like many other plants, they grow to provide healing and sustenance to humankind, and if they are not allowed to perform that function (for example, due to remoteness) they begin to audibly ring… thus advertising their location. Accompanying the tale in the books are many details about the nutritional uses, value of the cedars, and their medicinal uses.
Cedar nuts contain a lot of fat, proteins, carbohydrates, trace-elements and vitamins. “Cedar oil proteins contain 19 amino acids, of which 70% are essential. Vitamins in the oil help the human body to grow (vitamin A). They stabilize the central nervous system, improve blood composition and favorably affect skin tissue (vitamins B and D). The oil is very rich in vitamin E (tocopherol). The oil is very rich in vitamin P: it contains three times as much vitamin P as the product called "Vitamin P" made using fish oil. Vitamin P is made up of essential fatty acids, which help to reduce the level of cholesterol in your bloodstream and prevent the formation of plaques on the walls of blood vessels.
Baikal is the oldest and deepest lake the world and local myth has that if you swim in it you will get 25 years extra of glorious life life life. Thomas and I will now live an extra 25 years. And maybe with the consumption of the Sacred Cedar Nut we'll live even longer...so if we are still around in 100 years you'll know why!!!! It was, I must say, the COLDEST water I have ever immersed my body in. I thought I was going to turn into an icicle and sink to the bottom of the waist high water I bravely ran into. The journey outwards was the most ungraceful escape from Alcatraz i have ever performed i was shaking and shimmering and my body was twitching as I tried to escape the pins and needles that were slowing numbing my system. My body was saving my energy to preserve my internal organs and everything else was going to sleep. All this in LESS than 1 minute! Ha ha! Fortunately i will live 25 years longer so effectively from now on I am 1 year old again just with teeth and the ability to communicate which is fortunate! Cause I wouldn't have been able to buy the cedar nut or eat it without teeth and language!
Baikal has offered us very friendly people, so friendly in fact that when walking from our B&B to the Centre yesterday we came across a wedding party who had daring young men risking their lives to enter the healing Baikal waters so we, being the good tourists we are took photos....little did we know that we would be the target of the photos as a result. I posed with 20 different Russian men, Thomas posed with the ladies each one a potential Russian bride of course. We had a photo shoot for at least 20 minutes and received so much love that by the end we felt as if we were Family and were devastated at their departure, such a void was left...yet filled with Omul later, the local Baikal fish! The markets were super, lots of Russian souvenirs to be bought, Matrioshkas (not baboushkas), pictures of Putin, Knives, And lots and lots of Shamanic tokens. Here in Baikal Shaman-ism is still ripe and active and definitely being honed in on for us tourists.
We ate at a local restaurant yesterday and were lucky to be only among Russians. On one table the guests were drinking a large amount of...VODKA...and became very festive and joyful and began singing serious Russian songs (or so it seemed to me) hugging each other and celebrating life! The first song was super! I clapped loudly, the second song was drunken and I looked away slightly embarrassingly and their departure was sloppy yet their presence was very much appreciated! We too drank Vodka, Baikal Vodka of course...today both of us feel slightly under the weather but it can't be because of our liquid consumption, it must be the weather, its cloudy and sleepy and that MUST affect ones speed? No more vodka from now on...only juice and camel milk?
Irkutsk was a super little place in the end, Thomas and i wondered around the evening we were there and came across a large group of young men with a guitar, VODKA and the strong desire to sing sing sing. They stood around in a circle (maybe 10-12 of them) by river and sang their hearts out. THey too hugged and were very affectionate which was lovely to see. We also saw the local hippies fire twirling and collecting money, the Russian High heelers, a group of Irkutsk Hells angels on their bikes(must have been up to 16) gathered outside the town-hall, we saw a photo shoot with a slender Russian mamushka posing seductively, and absorbed the relaxed atmosphere of the Paris de Siberia!
So today we venture on with our travels. I am love filled for Baikal and if the universe permits me to, I think I will return. The Siberian Cedar has won my heart and I long to spend more time in her shade. The Lake with her mysticism and grandeur has created a peaceful haven and more time here must be had at a later point in time. And this will be it from Russia in love!