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 fourth of four parts.
This morning I think that Erin Gramm just about lost her mind. She woke us up at 5:45 a.m. I was having a good sleep, the kind of sleep that if you are awakened suddenly, you can't get it back.
Then, she went into the boys room and woke them up to wish one of them a happy birthday. She then came back and told us that we weren't going back to sleep, and at this point I was ready to kick her out. I got up because I knew that there would be no point in trying to sleep as long as she would make noise.
After I got up, I sat down outside with two of the boys that Erin
had awakened. After about a half an hour, "Ms. Wake Everyone Up At 5:45 In The Morning" was knocked out asleep. I decided to leave it alone, though.
Around 8 we got off of the train in Moscow. They took us shopping along this long strip of souvenir stores.
There we also got a little taste of the poverty in Moscow. We saw a little girl, who was about a year old, allby herself in an underground passageway used to get across the street. Our coaches stopped and tried to ask where her parents were but itwas a little hard because she was scared of us and they were speaking English. I couldn't look at it anymore so I kept walking.
Later on we were walking around and saw a man with a baby on his shoulders.He had no shoes. He came up to us so Ray gave him some money.
Then there was a little boy who was no more than 6, wandering around with no shoes, ragged clothes, and dirt covering him. Ray had given him some money earlier so he was back and wouldn't leave him alone. He followed him everywhere, pulling his clothes and begging him for more.
People tried to get the little boy off by pulling him and holding
him, but he would just wiggle away and come back to him. Ray kept pushing him away and finally he pushed the boy and made him fall over. He then got up and ran away. I didn't know what to say. I felt terrible and I knew that Ray had to be feeling even worse.
When we finished shopping we all got onto the bus and went back to the hotel that we had gone to when we first arrived in Moscow.
When we got there I was so relieved. I was happy to be there. I remember in the beginning I wanted to go home. Well, now I was happy to be there. Everyonetook showers and got ready to go to the circus.
On our way to thecircus we witnessed rush hour in Moscow. The streets were a mess. There aren't any dividers in the streets so people make their own lanes. There were cars broken down everywhere, along the sides of the street and even in the middle of the street. The gas station we passed was packed. The lines went down the streets. I felt like I was in history class and I was seeing the depression.
Finally, we got out of the traffic and got to the circus. The building was one of the nicer buildings in Russia and the circus was incredible.
I hadn't been toa circus in a long time but I remember it was bigger but it wasn't that good. They had magicians that did tricks that really made me wonder how in the world they did it. They had elephants and bears do things that even I couldn't do. The acrobats were just amazing. I would recommend to anyone having the chance to see the Moscow circus to go see it because you won't be disappointed.
At the circus we saw other people from America. After the circus we got back on the bus. One of the Russian girls had fallen in love with one of our boys while we were here. Since this would be the last time that she would see him, she began to cry. On our way back we asked if we could go to McDonald's but after a while I stopped because I figured that we wouldn't.
We went back to the hotel for dinner. There they served cold pancakes and butter with blue eggs. This time, I ate the cold pancakes. Theyalso had cake that I didn't like, and as the main coursethey broughtout sardines and some type of reddish colored fish. Other than the pancakes, I didn't eat anything.
Our coaches said that we had to have our things ready by 3:30 a.m. to leave for the plane the next day,so I decided to stay up again because I knew that if I was awakened from a good sleep again I would be upset and have an attitude. So that night our little group stayed up and talked again.
This morning was very hectic. First of all one of the coaches got sick and had to be carried to the airport. Then we had to stand inline at customs for a long time with people pushing past me to get by.
I was to the point now that I didn't move when people pushed. Iwaited until they said something. Most of the Russians who speak a little English said "I'm sorry" instead of "excuse me." I waited to hear that or them to say something in Russian. We then had to show the people our passports and visas and our plane tickets -- this is wherethings got messed up again.
Ms. Salkin gave out all of the plane tickets randomly as we wentthrough customs. The tickets had individual names on them. When we showed the visas and the passports some of the people got through with other people's tickets but most of the people didn't.
Luckily, I found my ticket right away. So I gave it tothe lady and she let me through. When we got through Ms. Salkin toldeveryone to wait on the other side.
Something came up about the coach, whether or not he would be allowed to get back on the plane andsomeone overheard someone talking about a later flight. All of a sudden everyone went into a panic. The people who got through all decided to find the plane on our own just in case.
So with passport in hand we all left and got to the metal detector when one of the girls said that she had to go back because she had one of the coach's tickets. She asked me to go with her.
When we went back we found out that one of the boys on the team didn't have a ticket with his name and couldn't get through.
They told us to go ask everyone to look at their tickets, so I went back to ask. When I got to them and asked about the ticket, nobody said that they had it. I didn't know what to doso I just stayed where I was. About five minutes later all of the coaches and the boy came around the corner. What had happened was one of the coaches had two tickets in his name. I was relieved.
We finally got on the plane. At first I was with two Russian girls. As soon as I sat in the chair and saw where everyone was I fell asleep. Aftera couple of hours I woke up and switched seats with people so that Icould sit with the people on our team. Soon, I found myself falling asleep again. During the time that I was awake, I noticed how much quieter the flight back was compared to the flight over.
Finally, the plane came in for a landing. Everyone was all smiles as we got off and waited in line for customs and to get our baggage. The airport here seemed so much brighter than the one in Russia. As we were waitingI was thinking about how close I had gotten to some of the people insuch a short period of time and how well I got to know them. I was also wondering will I ever see some of these people again?
In a wayin was sort of a sad and happy moment because I couldn't wait to seemy parents.
Finally, I got all of my things and I went to this hall and at the end I saw my little brother standing there and I couldn't help but smile at him because I was even happy to see him. As everyone came in and found their families we all went around and hugged each other and said our goodbyes.
The first thing I did was get a soft pretzel and a Pepsi that tasted like an American Pepsi.