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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Karen and Michael go to the Banya together

Inside the Banya

Through the steam you can see tubs for washing clothes or bodies, the benches were you sit and steam like a lobster You can also see buckets for rinsing, along with bathing accessories. There are two problems with taking photos in a banya, one is the steam makes it very difficult, and the other is that you are naked!

On Sunday January 20 we visited one of the Cornerstone Church drug rehabilitation centers. As with most of the centers this one has a Russian banya, bathhouse/sauna where those who live at the rehab bathe and do laundry. Sunday is banya day at the centers so we were invited to go to the banya. In the past Karen has gone with the girls and Michael has gone with the guys.

The banya is a time for both getting clean and more importantly a place for fellowship and socialization. The banya experience can take anywhere from ½ an hour to four or more hours. You steam for a while, go out to cool off, drink some tea and repeat the process as many times as you like or have time for. All of this is done communally (guys only with guys; girls only with girls) and completely naked. This is quite intimidating for us Americans.

This time, since most of the group had already gone to the banya and it was inconceivable that we might not want to go, it was decided that Karen and I would go together, without anyone else. Wow! Our first Banya together! So we gathered our things, trekked out behind the house through the snow and into the banya. We did the typical banya routine, but without the tea. We had a short, quick Banya as there were other things that needed to be done that evening. We definitely had been pushed out of our ‘norm’ and we found ourselves giggling a lot together Still, the time was relaxing and a fun experience as we “banyaed” together for the first time.

If you ever come to visit us in Russia we hope that you will be brave and enter into this Russian cultural experience which so many Americans never participate in.

1 comment:

Francy said...

Nice Blog!
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