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Friday, May 16, 2008

Picnic at the Nudist beach

Life in Russia is always interesting and full of surprises. Here is a story about a recent adventure.

Lately, Karen and I have been trying to make sure we take one full day off from any ministry commitment just to have time for ourselves and nurture our relationship. The weather has been warm in Nizhny Novgorod recently and on one particularly warm spring day we decided to have a cookout picnic along the Volga River.

We loaded our Niva jeep with a small barbecue grill, and then went to the local supermarket and purchased a few things. The day was nice and sunny, and off we went in hunt of the "right" spot. We knew that there was a long stretch of sandy beach along the river right alongside the city. We thought that this would be super because it only had off road access and was beyond the reach of regular cars (implication being that we didn’t want to be around any people). We had never been to this particular spot because not having a car until recently it was too far to walk and no buses run that way.

With a 4WD vehicle like ours you can drive into the sand and find a secluded place to picnic. Our Niva is prefect for this. We drove along, scouting our location and finally decided on one overlooking a lagoon and facing the city.

Driving on the beach

We unpacked our car and began setting up the grill. Across the way, in some scrub brush we saw several guys. We didn’t pay much attention at first, but then Karen says, “Michael, is that guy naked?” I looked and sure enough he was. He was standing there in all his glory, enjoying the sun.

Picnic Spot

This being Russia, and Russians having differing views on nudity than Americans we said, “Oh well,” and decided to continue with our picnic. After getting the charcoal going and setting up, we began to notice some more naked guys! There were two sunning on a blanket. The first guy was also watching us as if to ask, “Why are you here with your clothes on”?

As our food began to grill we noticed a woman walk by, stop and chat with the guys and move on. She was totally naked also! We had stumbled, quite by accident, upon the only unofficial nudist beach in Nizhny Novgorod.

By then we were totally committed to grilling our food and we really couldn’t stop and pack up. It was actually pretty funny. Everyone was far enough away and screened by low bushes that we could tell that they were naked, but not really see any vital statistics. We were happy for that.

Setting Up

So we grilled our food, enjoyed the sun, sat with our backs to the sunbathers, and had a nice afternoon. This was just another Russian adventure for two, sometimes, very naïve and humorously ignorant American missionaries.

View From the beach

Sailboats on the River

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