For the past two weeks we've been waiting for our Russian visas in Athens. Saving us from the great expense of a hotel have been the kind, generous, and funny, Sergei and Miwa. We connected with them on http://www.warmshowers.org a few weeks before we arrived.
Sergei is orignially from Ukraine, and Miwa is from Japan. They are now happily married as immigrants in the crazy country of Greece. They try not to get too involved in politics, but stick to what they do best— working their tails off teaching English to mostly Polish people living in their predominantly Polish neighborhood. Between the two of them, they speak English, Russian, Polish, Japanese, Greek, Spanish, Italian, and communicable French. Wow.
It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know them. During our time here we've watched movies over pizza and beer, ate delicious souvlaki pitas stuffed with meat, enjoyed lunches together, shared chores, and generally felt completely at home. It has almost been like having a normal life again!
We've all been working a lot—most days from 8AM until nearly midnight Miwa and Sergei are busy giving lessons. Tyler has been programming up a storm and fixing computers for Sergei's clients, while I've been making sure everyone busy working is also well-fed. I've also been writing my novel and furiously knitting away on a project for Tyler's soon-to-be-born niece or nephew.
As our time here is coming to a close, we planned on taking our dear hosts and new friends out to dinner. As is often the case, things didn't go quite as planned. Sergei hijacked the bill! After all they have done, including hosting us for two weeks, helping us with our packages and recording a basic Russian lesson, they wouldn't even let us pay for dinner!
Thanks guys! For dinner, but mostly for everything else.
Tonight, after they finished working around 10:00 PM (earlier than most days) we all walked over to a small, historic taverna called (in Greek) "The Barrels." We ate some delicious steaks and pork chops while sipping red wine and talking about all manner of subjects, from what it was like to live in the former USSR (awesome if you're happy as a worker bee with everything provided for you but zero individual freedoms), to Japanese candle-lit festivals, to a wildly romantic story about how they paid off corrupt Greek priests in order to get married.
After dinner, we returned home for shots of aged Moldovan cognac and much drunken laughter until the wee hours of the morning.
Thank you so much, you guys! We will miss you!