|pretty Russian girl with daughter on Trans-Siberian Railway|
I find an open cabin for myself and move my bags there. Laying down I fall into a light sleep until I'm woken by movement around me; a young mother and her five-year old daughter settling down for the ride.
She's very pretty, and we stiltedly flirt back and forth for a few minutes, but alas she speaks no English, and my limited Russian isn't enough to maintain even the semblance of a conversation. Queue a twenty-year old Russian soldier, on his way to report for monthly duties, to bridge the gap as our interpreter. His English is only a touch better than my Russian, but somehow collectively we manage to turn charades into a fun and vibrant chat, as I answer questions about America and they about Russia and their lives.
We share food, sweets, and smiles, and I'm grateful for their company as we traverse Lake Baikal and head towards the southern regions of Siberia.
I find Russians born after or near the end of Soviet Communism a much more hopeful bunch than the preceding generations.
I've heard from various travelers that the train stops for 12 hours on the Mongolian border, and it's much faster to get off in Ulan Ude and take the bus across. As we approach my stop I'm highly tempted to switch my plans and offer to journey with the woman, who's let me know in no uncertain terms she's single, back to her village.
Unfortunately the language barrier is just too great. I wave good-bye to her and her little girl as I disembark the train, my heart both warmed from their company, and yet, as I take their leave, a touch sad. Such an occurrence is not uncommon as we travel through life. Take the chance and beautiful meetings for what they are, knowing in small way, you've enhanced each others' lives, and be grateful for this exchange of energy. Then embrace whatever is to come next with with an open arms. Wherever you are pretty girl, thank you.