|as we walk the streets from place to place (we walk alot, like most locals), no one smiles and most avoid eye contact. i dont know if thats because its a city, and city folk are just that way (in the states, ive heard this behavior is common in the cities), or if its a russian thing. sally and i are almost always laughing and smiling like a couple of american idiots, but the smile is never returned. our language teacher asked us what we thought of this, and we gave her our opinion. she said russia is a very, very sad place for people. many people are not sure what to do with the freedom a democracy offers, having grown up under the strong arm of communism. they were told where to work, where to live, what to believe. they simply dont know what to do with themselves after the fall of communism. sally and i think that also having been told that there is no God for so many years, they must have no hope that anything they do will last. if youd like to know more about this, read Solomon's Ecclesiastes. the only smiles we've seen so far are on the childrens faces in the orphanage. i feel like im making them sound bad, but they are very patient with us, and very helpful. we couldnt have used the bus system without the help of three different people. one person put us on the bus and told the driver where we needed to stop, a second woman told us where to get off, and a third woman waited at the stop with us to flag the bus down so we could get on. the city itself is beautiful, as is the country-side (looks like alaska without the mountains). the weather is very nice. its been sunny and hasnt climbed over 65 degrees. ahhh. personally, i really like it here. if i spoke russian itd be so much better. i wish it would snow!!