Siberian air to Tuvansky Air

I had a writing fellowship for a month in St Petersburg. Then went on to Kyzyl, Tuva, Siberia after for ancestral research/ shaman studies. Buddhism and Shamanism were outlawed in Russia in the 1930's. In 1986 Perostroika allowed religions back in. In between, shamans and monks were imprisoned, tortured, murdered or were hiding in caves. I gathered a few shaman's stories and learned shaman things.

Getting there was challenging. I suspect flying internally in Russia is always difficult. The trip to Kyzyl, Tuva was going to include a flight to Novosibirsk, then a 24 hour train ride and a six hour bus/taxi. But at the last minute, Siberian Air found a ticket for me on Tuvansky airlines after all. I had to connect in Novosibirsk at another airport. So after flying all night, I asked cab drivers to take me to the other airport. They seemed to not know of this other airport so I sat down on a bench and relaxed until I could figure out what to do. Among the 300 russians at the small Novosibirsk airport, there was one asian woman. I decided to ask her if she knew where the other airport is. She was very receptive and hand signaled that she is from Kyzyl, Tuva. She was waiting for someone and I thought she'd invited me to get a ride with her to the other airport, but I wasn't sure. Then I realized a few english speaking people were nearby. I asked if they could translate russian to english. They said no but I could borrow their translator. He wore a pin that said NATO translator. They were nato members. He did translate and she was saying I'm waiting for my niece, then if you want to come to my house for lunch and a nap, then after we will drive you and my niece to the other airport because she is going to Kyzyl. And that she is from Kyzyl.

I had a bag of pastries filled with potatoes, cabbage and lemon creme, because word was I wouldn't find a place to eat until I reached Kyzyl 22 hours later. So I had something to offer my unexpected hosts in Novosibirsk. As well, I talked to a Nato guy for awhile in english. I gave him advice about how to manage his time that day after everyone was up all night. When they were leaving he said Aren't you coming with us? He assumed I was with Nato. He didn't seem to believe me when I said I'm a writer, I'm not in Nato. He wanted me to go anyway. I was at a crossroads. I'd planned to meet shamans, had photographs of shamans that a friend had taken 4 years ago to deliver. I didn't start a new career as a nato person, but went with the Tuvan woman to her home. At her apartment, the Tuvan woman drew a picture of where to find shamans in case I had difficulty finding them.

To be continued........