I took David to the airport this morning for his first flight to Russia…….. Sakhalin Island, to be exact. He is in the process of transferring there from Norway, and went for a few days to meet with the customers he will be dealing with, and also see the facility, which is still in the set-up stage. He will return next week……… and probably go back again the beginning of November, or soon after – as soon as Norway is ready to release him.
This is a big promotion for him, and will definitely be an interesting and challenging job. After just getting settled into the Norwegian way of doing things, finally earning our Norwegian driving licenses, and becoming a bit familiar with the language, he will be dealing with a different culture, a different language (even a different alphabet), and being not able to drive again. Enter drivers and translators, and more language lessons. This time, we will HAVE to get by in the language, as very few Russian in Sakhalin speak English.
Sakhalin Island is on the very east coast of Russia – just north of Japan. It has quite a colourful history, having been fought over and conquered by various countries in the past – the last episode being between when Japan was driven out near the end of World War II. It is about 1/5th the size of Japan. It has two parallel ranges of mountains running the length of the island, and is 2/3 mountainous. There is a wide variety of both wildlife and vegetation. There is rain and fog in the summer, and lots of snow in the winter, according to what I’ve found. And I was having a hard time getting used to the rain and cold here in Norway!
I am pretty ambivalent about this move, I will admit. On one hand, it is frightfully exciting to be going to such an unusual location. Before this offer came up, I didn’t know such a place existed. I love languages, and the challenge of a new language with a new alphabet on top of it is intriguing….. a bit like a kid learning a new code. But I am just beginning to get the hang of Norwegian – at the quilt meeting last night, I actually had some idea of what the speaker was talking about as she showed us various quilts she had made. I am also afraid that if I ever get back to Riez to visit my French friend, my fledgling French will have totally deserted me and I will be staring blankly at everyone again.
I am also really enjoying being able to drive when and where I want. I am enjoying the fact that I actually have a few friends here to visit and have lunch with. I basically know where to go for things again, and know what I am looking at the grocery store. I’m beginning to like rainy days. I feel almost at home here, where my great-grandparents came from in the 1800’s.
David is on a business visa right now – he cannot officially “work”, but only consult and meet with customers. From the sound of it, it will take upwards of four months to get his work permit and visa……… and I believe that means that I will be remaining here in Norway until that happens. I’m hoping that also means that they will not pack up the house before that time…….. I am not looking forward to living in a sea of boxes, or in an apartment with only my air shipment. We don’t like living apart either – and that will be hard on both of us – but especially me, ans David will be busy with his new challenges, and I will be waiting. Once the container is on its way, it will take about 3 months to arrive in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and probably another 6 weeks or so to clear customs. That’s a long time to live out of a box – and it will have to be a very craftily packed box at that.
When I am lonely, I tend to eat and play on the computer too much. It’s not that I don’t have more than enough to keep me occupied for ten times four months….. it’s the actually Doing it that is the problem.
I have a contact in Sakhalin – a lovely, helpful lady who lives in the Shell camp. She assures me that when I get there, I will love it. Karen also says that there is at least one other “avid” quilter there as well. And other friends who have known people who worked on the island have told me that they loved it too.
Positive…. thinking positive. I know this will be an exciting page in the book of my life…… and to a large degree, it is up to me whether it is a happy tale or a miserable one. We have been through all kinds of adversity here in Norway, and have come through smiling and enjoying this beautiful country……. and we will in Sakhalin as well.
Stay tuned as the adventure continues. It has only just begun.