IN RUSSIA, THE EASY LIFE HARD TO FIND

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Editor's note: Adrienne McCray, a 16-year-old track athlete at NorthCounty High School, recently returned from a 10-day trip sponsored by Pangaea Inc. to compete in the Soviet Union. McCray, the Anne Arundel County Sun's Female Track Athlete of the Year, kept a daily diary,which details her experiences on her first trip outside the United States. This is the third of four parts.

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June 24

This morning I was again awakened from a good sleep. For breakfast we had hot dogs. I ate one and tried to fill my plate upagain but I couldn't take it. I tried to explain to them that I don't eat that much for breakfast.

Then they asked me if my mother wasskinny and if she ate a lot. I told them yes and no. When they said some words like mother they would pronounce it like "moder," and after a while they had me saying "moder" and pronouncing my name "Andren." I really loved this family, though.

After breakfast we caught a cab into town. The funny thing about Russian taxi drivers was that you have to ask them will they take you to a certain place. If they want to go there they will take you. If not, you just had to wait for the next one to stop.

As we were walking around the downtown area I noticed that on the streets they have drink machines with a glass cup.

When you put your money in the slot, you take the glass cup, wash it out with water, then fill it up with your drink. After you're finished you put the cup back. All of the drinking stands on the streets are the same.

I asked the girl I was with if she could get me a Coke, and it seemed as though we were walking forever and still none of the stores had Coke. I settled for a Russian Orange Fanta.

Thenit was time for me to go.

So we went back home to get my things. When we got there I was relieved that I was with the group again.

Our guide named Lana said, "You see, friends, the thing is," and we learned that when she said that something went wrong.

She told us that we had to go back with our families for another day. Everyone gotmad. We had to stay another day because one of the coaches had askedif we could leave later in the day for Sochi, the beach resort sincewe got to the families late the night before.

Now Lana said that we couldn't leave because the trip was too dangerous to take at night. None of us wanted to go back to the houses.

It wasn't like the families treated us badly, it was that there wasn't very much communication between us. We told the coaches that we didn't want to go back and they decided to have a conference to see what they could do.

In the end they decided that they would talk the families into allowing two of us to stay with them instead of us being by ourselves. Many of the families were still hurt because we didn't want to go back andI began to feel bad again. In the end, Erin and the girl she stayed with both spent the night with my family.

After everything was figured out we went on a boat ride. On the way there we had to find something to drink. So we went into this store that had bottles with liquid inside with pictures of apples on the outside. We decided to try them. They tasted just like apple juice, so we bought another bottle of it. We were so happy when we got the apple juice the Russians were just looking at us laughing.

When we got down to the dock and met up with everyone else in the group they all wanted some of our drink.When we got on the boat I had nothing left. The boat ride was an hour long. When it was over we went back home. That night Erin and I weren't going to sleep so our girls stayed up with us all night and talked to us.

Then we taught them how to play go fish. When we were inthe middle of the game, they began flipping through their books and asked us what was the point. All we did was laugh. We had a lot of fun that night.

The next morning we got up early and went to the busstation to go to Sochi. I hugged my family goodbye and got on the bus.

On the way we stoped at a museum and Lana got back on the microphone with her "you see friends" speech. We were all upset with the Russians and the coaches because they seemed to be takingour time awayfrom being at the beach. When the Russians got off of the bus we gotchewed out again by the coaches about the way we were acting.

Before the coaches threatened to send us back to the United States. Now,they were threatening to leave us in the Soviet Union. After that, Iwent to Ms. Salkin, our chaperon, and told her that everyone was acting this way because they weren't telling us anything. They expected us to do what we were told on a second's notice, without getting upset.

I told her that we had been told that we were going to Sochi and now they are changing things on us. Also, the threats that were being made weren't helping the matters any. She said that she understoodwhat I was saying and we had a nice little talk.

Turns out that the museum was very interesting. It had things about their space programs, and active displays where you could get on things and they wouldspin around like you were in space. We only stayed for about a half an hour and then we were on our way to Sochi.

Finally we got to Sochi and our hotel on the beach. The first thing that we did was go toa little souvenir store by the hotel. Erin and I bought a case of 24Cokes for $18. The outside of the hotel didn't look very nice because the paint on the building was coming off and the color was fading.

When we got inside I could tell that this was a nice hotel. It hadmirrors hanging in the hall and two elevators. In our rooms, we had refrigerators and a whole bath tub, with a little hanger for the shower head so that you could stand under the water like we do at home. When we got settled, everyone put on their bathing suits and headed for the beach.

When we stepped on the beach the first difference that I noticed was that the beach was all rocks. They weren't jagged rocks. Instead, they were smooth but they were still a little hard on the feet. When I touched the water, I started to turn back only to findmyself being picked up by my fellow teammates and being thrown into the water. It was too cold for me so I got out.

After that I went back to my room to take a shower. Earlier, I had put my shoes on the dresser to dry because I had washed them. I felt to see if they were still wet and a bunch of roaches began to crawl out of them. I dropped my shoes. Some of my teammates who had returned helped me to get the roaches out of my shoes. I had closed up all of my bags and put them on the bed and the table.

When that was over, Erin and I were alone in our room with the door open waiting for Omar to return. All ofa sudden a lady just walked into our room. She was speaking Russian so I didn't understand what she was saying, but she was pointing to her lips, so we thought that she wanted some Chapstick. Neither of us had any so she asked us for some lotion. Erin gave her some, so she started to pull out some money, but Erin told her no.

Then, anotherlady came in and started talking and pulled out some money. I didn'tknow what she wanted; I just wanted them to get out. Finally our Russian guide came in and got them to leave. She said that they wanted to buy things from us and that it was illegal for us to sell it to them.

That night after dinner, some of us went outside to sit on the beach and walk along the boardwalk to see what they had. It was a very pretty beach resort and we stayed outside until our midnight curfew. When we went back to our rooms the coaches told us not to turn on our lights or walk by the windows because there was a man across from the hotel looking in the windows for women and then coming around andknocking on their doors.

The window curtains were see-through, soErin and I shut the door and sat on our beds staring at the window. All of a sudden, we heard a knock on our door. I said, "Who is it?" and got no answer. I was really scared at that moment, then I heard Ray's voice outside so I opened the door and he was the only one out there. A sigh of relief went over my body. Then I fussed at Ray for notanswering. Later on when they told me that they caught the man I wasready to sleep.

I went to my bag and opened it and saw a great big roach crawling around in it, so I sat down on the bed and looked around and saw them crawling on the wall and on my bed and at that moment I was ready to cry.

I got the coach and told him that I was notsleeping and I wasn't staying in that room. He said, "OK," and worked it out that Erin and I could switch rooms with two of the boys. It ended up that nobody stayed in our room because nobody went to sleep that night. We all stayed up talking.

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June 25

Today I got a couple of hours of sleep, then we all went to breakfast where they served us a fish that had been cooked in everything, its scales, headand tail. I looked on my plate and I saw a little fish tongue sticking out at me. Ms. Salkin quickly went and talked to the waiters so they came and asked us what we did want.

We said eggs. They asked did we want them boiled or fried. Everyone said fried. When they brought the eggs out they weren't done, so that was another meal that everyone missed.

Next, we went shopping at a mall. When we got there, we couldn't find anything to buy. We went back to the hotel and since it was raining, we hung around inside all day.

Later on that evening we put our things back on the bus and we headed off to the train station. When we got there we became the center of attention. People gathered around and just stared at us. I guess they never saw that many blacks in one place. Not to mention the fact that a few boys began to sing.

When we got our things to the train again we had seven minutes to get all of our things on. This time they told everyone to get your own bags to make it so everyone knew where their bags were. When we got into our rooms we got everything organized. We put our sodas on a table and hid our food where nobody else could see it. As soonas the train started everyone went on a food binge.

People were offering money for anything that you had. I had a bag of cookies that I bought in Sochi and stashed away, and to everyone who came by, I would say no food. They would go away and then come back about five minutes later and ask us for it again.

At that time I was getting hungry also, and I realized that I was experiencing something new. I wasexperiencing what it felt like to have money and not be able to go out and get what you wanted. Later on after everyone stopped coming around we closed the door and began to eat our food.

That night I was really exhausted so I decided to go to sleep. All of a sudden I wasawakened by this man standing in our doorway talking. He had a Coke can in his hand and was speaking Russian. I didn't know who he was soI just got up and pointed out and started to close the door on him. I know our door was shut because the coaches wouldn't have let us go to sleep with the door open. Two of the girls in our car said that the door was locked. I don't know about that because I didn't lock it and I don't remember anyone else locking it.

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June 26

The next day again we missed breakfast. I didn't care because I still had my cookies and warm soda. When we stopped in Krasnadar, some of our families were outside waiting for us with more gifts. We rode the trainall day with nothing to do except talk to each other and sleep. One good thing about the trip is that I am getting closer to the people that I am with every day.

Today, one of the topics of our conversations was one that has been a frequent one, and that was food. We justsat around and told each other what food we wanted to eat and described it in detail. Then we talked about what we wanted to do when we got back and today we even got into the subject of school. One of our teammates said that we must be going crazy from being bored if we were sitting around talking to each other about school.

Around 2, we went to the dining cart to eat lunch. This time we ate chicken. It was boiled so I just pretended that it was fried. When dinner time arrived, the meal, again, was less desirable. So I began to eat the breadon the table.

The waiters that we had weren't very nice because they waited until everyone was almost finished eating before they brought out the drinks. We thought that we weren't getting drinks until we saw boxes of orange juice sitting out. When we asked for some, theysaid we had to pay for them. After everyone was finished paying, they brought out the tea. The man had this grinning face, the type of face that you see in your nightmares and you never forget. Every time we asked for something by pointing all he did was laugh at us. After dinner I went to sleep again.

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