I made it to Estonia and back. I was planning to include a lovely photo in this post, but somehow I didn’t manage to take any photos, even though I had a working camera with me….
The day went like this: at 9:00 I met up with a friend from Canada (James) and we got on the bus to leave for Estonia. We drove for 3-4 hours and then got to the Russian border. I was a little nervous going through passport control because I had reason to believe that my documents might not be in order. I was praying for mercy. Then when I stepped up to the window, the officer looked at my passport and said “Do you speak Russian?” Uh oh. I said in English, “Yes, a little.” Then he said, in perfect English, “Take off your glasses (I’m not wearing glasses in the photo).” Then he confirmed it was the same person, stamped my passport, and I was free to leave. Now, why did he ask me if I spoke Russian, since he spoke perfect English? Just a test?
After we drove for a little bit, we began to cross the Estonian border. James told me to look out the window for where the line is. I said, “What does it look like?” He said “You’ll know. Watch the sidewalk.” I looked out the window. After a few minutes, the snow-covered sidewalk turned into neat and tidy, shoveled sidewalk. We had entered Estonia.
We arrived in Narva, which is just over the border and has about a 95% Russian population. We were waiting for an Estonian guy whom James was meeting, and I tried to take a photograph. I couldn’t get my camera to work, though I had tested it the night before. I thought “oh well, there will be time later.” The man pulled up and signaled for us to jump in the car. Then he took us to lunch at a local shopping center. I found out that he’s a pastor at a local church. They have a lot of youth and do programs for orphans/street kids.
I tested my camera and it worked after all, but… after lunch we spent awhile exchanging/withdrawing money, and then did a little shopping. Since I hadn’t been expecting to go to Estonia, I didn’t have a wishlist or anything. The groceries were a lot cheaper than in St.Petersburg. I got some brown sugar, chocolate, and coffee. Then we waited for Marko (the pastor) to buy something. There was a complication with that, and we ended up getting back to the bus station with no time to spare.
So I left having done little exploring, but I accomplished what I had come for…to obtain a newly stamped migration card! Now I just have to register and I’ll be good to go.