Beach Weekend

It is a good day to go to the beach!

How can you get a good tan standing up?
Love the thong!

Ok, who lost the beach ball??

It gets crowed on good dayz

The best that samara has to offer!
Wonder who paid for that?
Yesterday, I went to the beach, Russian style. I took the metro, then a
trolleybus to an island in the middle of the Moscow River. The island is an odd
place, devoid of apartment houses and the urban feel of Moscow. Only trolleybuses
and resident’s cars are allowed, so there are few Mercedes-driving non-trolleybus
riding New Russians to spoil the calm of the beach I finally laid out at.

The beach is really a grass strip next to the river’s edge, with a sandy
patch before the trees start. The grassy section is covered by blankets and
people trying to soak up as much of the short summer sun as possible. The sandy
patch is for the sportsmen, with the volleyballers in full effect.

As I watched the volleyballers, I wondered if Russia ever had volleyball
nets. The people, guys and gals, playing would make a circle and hit the ball
around, never dividing into teams, as Americans would. There are poles, and a
square patch of sand, but the area is never used like it is in the West. Other
beach sports like badminton, soccer, and the occasional Frisbee are represented,
but not to the effect of the omnipresent vollyballers.

Usually, I swim, read, and sleep my way through a relaxing afternoon in the
sun, but when I come to beaches like this, I spend the entire time
people-watching. The majority of the beachgoers are elderly couples or groups,
all bronze and relaxed.

Unlike me, they usually stand to tan (yes, stand!), rather than
lay or sit. I still haven’t figured out why, maybe for a
crease-free tan that is impossible with such girth when
sitting/laying. When the babushkas get together, it is an amazing
sight. Talking, laughing, and living life, they don’t let time,
money or a bit of extra girth get in the way of a good time. A
group of six had my attention when they decided to get watermelon,
laughing at their husbands’ feeble attempts to stop, or help the
melon-getting crew.

The dev’s (young Russian women) are there too, but strangely
reserved. While they will wear not much more than a tight tank top
and belt-width skirt on the streets, they are in conservative
bikinis and one-piece suits at the beach. I have only seen a
handful of thongs (how many thongs fit in a handful?), and the
rare bare breast, a bit different than their European-looking men.
The men are usually dressed in those spandex bikini bottoms,
unlike my surf-trunks wearing self (call me modest). Zipping
through everyone, are the countless kids. Usually in underpants or
less, they run, scream, and splash through the beach, giving it
much needed life.

Since there are many river/lake beaches and few ocean beaches,
swimming is quite popular. The older participants will spend an
hour or so, slowly paddling around, while my out-of-shape self
usually lasts about 1/2 hour these days. I amazed my host brother
when I could swim that long, but in a country covered by ice for
nine months of the year; swimmers are more the exception than the
rule. Actually, the amount of swimmers and beach-people is
something I wonder about. Because winter is so long, you would
think everyone would be a sun worshiper here. I guess the winter
is long enough, and the summer short enough, that most forget the
joys of a good tan via a day at the beach.

Though I may be considered a freak (or a Chechen), I shall join
my bronze brothers in saluting the golden orb that visits us for
such a short time. Hail to the sun and its warm, summertime rays!
May they shine for many tomorrows!