Friday, February 8, 2013

A Couple of Pricks

During our overnight stay in Yekaterinburg, Zaya admitted that she'd been to see the doctor in Ulaanbaatar for a chest infection. With my medical background I'm leery of anyone that says they're sick and about to embrace an adventure that might kill a healthy ox. So when Zaya asked if I'd be comfortable helping her with her treatment regime I cautiously said yes. At that moment she reached into her vast bag and pulled out dozens of glass ampoules of cephalosporin, lignocaine, normal saline and gentamicin sulphate, along with syringes and needles by the score. My immediate thought was "Crikey! This woman needs to be in Intensive Care, not about to hop on a motorcycle for two weeks." The idea of injecting Zaya with massive quantities of antibiotics in freezing conditions every eight hours held little appeal for either of us. Even teaching Zaya to dose herself didn't seem in any way practical. I'd brought a bunch of Z-Pak, a modern kills-it-all wonder drug, and gave them to her as cover. Since she said she felt fine, I suggested that she hold off on the injections until she got home, but keep the other meds with her just in case. Because being sick in Siberia is nothing to sneeze at (sorry about that - ed.). 

Irbit is one of those towns that is hard to place in time. Its historical, pre-communist wealth is plainly visible in the handsome old brick buildings which line the streets. The city clearly avoided most of the ghastly destruction brought about by the Second World War and the ensuing Soviet concrete block rebuilding. In the warm light of the sunset we could still make out traditional wall decorations blending in with the fading patinas of once brightly colored stucco. Scattered around town are some impressively dilapidated log houses that look like they go back even further in time. There is something cozy about the place.

We arrived at the Hotel Povorot on Friday evening just in time for a warm up vodka slinging and arm wrestling session with the local Russian muscle. Fully embracing her new antibiotic regime, Zaya kicked things off by doing shots with Adrian and Sergei and then mysteriously vanished. One minute she was there, the next she was gone.

The Povorot has an interesting set up in their bedrooms. The outer door to the hallway can be locked with a key, but there is also an inner door that can be locked only by hand from inside the room. Access to the toilet and separate shower lay in the wide vestibule between the two doors. In her stupor Zaya had made her way back to her room and subconsciously locked the inner door thus locking me out of my much needed bed. Banging on the door, calling out, phoning, and otherwise raising hell proved fruitless. Zaya slept on. Not sure what else to do, I lay down in the vestibule and slept briefly until a paralytically drunk Russian crashed in and started bashing on the inner door just above my head. Drunk as he was, he only looked down and saw me when I told him to, "f*** off you prick!" At which point instead of crushing my windpipe with his boot, he turned around and staggered out into the corridor. Jet-lag and vodka overwhelmed me and I reasoned that at some point Zaya had to wake up, so I slept for few more hours on the floor.

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