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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Winter is here!

It is finally winter here. After some unusually warm weather in the high 30s and 40s it has at last turned to real winter weather. We are experiencing temperatures in the high teens and twenties. The ground is frozen and covered in snow. The Volga and Oka rivers have still not frozen over which is unusual.

The nights are really long here now. On December 22 daylight was at 8:30 AM and it was dark by 4:00 PM

Yesterday we took a 30 minute bus ride outside of town to the new MegaMall. It’s true, we now have a large western style shopping mall right outside of town. There is a food court, an IKEA furniture store, an OBI which is similar to a Home Depot, and a supermarket called Ashan, which is similar to a Super Wal-Mart. Along with this there are the usual clothing, and shoes stores, etc. The mall even has a small indoor ice skating rink!

Russia is changing rapidly. New malls and other western conveniences are popping up around the country. Yet within ½ a mile of this new mall with it’s several thousand parking spaces, you will find small Russian villages with no indoor bathrooms, and perhaps being heated by wood. We are amazed that Russians can afford to shop at the mall as the prices in general were higher than prices for the same type items in America. We have been shocked at the continuing high prices for clothing and other consumer goods here. In general here we pay less rent and utilities but almost everything else is more expensive than in America. This obviously leaves many families scraping to make ends meet.

We hope to get a few photos of the mall soon to post on this blog.

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