Monday, November 16, 2009

Belarus Entry #1 - Where To Find Hot Chocolate

Earlier this week, I had a great opportunity with some friends/coworkers (emphasis on the former over the latter) to go to a conference in Minsk, Belarus. There are many, many stories of how repressive Belarus is toward Evangelical Christianity but, fear and trepidation notwithstanding, we had a tiring yet wonderful time and didn't feel any of the infamous repression. I'm sure that was due, in large part, to the fact that one of my coworkers is Belarusian and he made sure that we behaved ourselves. The other factor in play was that the conference was held at an Evangelical seminary and we were there for at least 12 hours a day. That didn't leave much time for shenanigans.

One of the things that we did try to do, when not knee deep in accreditation issues (more on that later), was to find hot chocolate. I had a hankerin' for some on Monday night and so we went searching. We stopped at 2 cafes with no luck (although we did stumble upon the Drama Theater of the Belarusian Army and had great fun imagining said army performing Romeo and Juliet or Swan Lake). That was enough for me. I was ready to settle for some tea. But whereas my desire waned as the night wore on, the hankerin' spread to my compatriots and they didn't want to give up so easily. We looked at 1 or 2 more places before settling on tea (or the wretched coffee for everyone but me) and dessert.

We hit the town the next night, as well, still with no success at finding hot chocolate. With each inquiry and negative reply, my hopes decreased. So, by Wednesday afternoon, just hours before we were to leave, my expectations were at 0%. But as we were leaving the super-huge-mega-market where we were buying our dinner and snacks for the train ride home, it started to pour. A 15-minute walk back to the seminary without umbrellas would have had us soaked until we arrived back in Kyiv the next morning. So we stayed inside for a while and moseyed on up to the cafe/kiosk of the super-huge-mega market. With 0% expectation, what do you think we found? Of course, we did. And it was really good. So, when in Belarus, don't look every imaginable place for the sweet, sweet nectar of the gods. Instead, find your way to the Hippo and enjoy.

1 comment:

lois said...

Eduard told us this story last week after you all got back. I laughed picturing it, but he left out the part where they wanted some, too! It seems I have to get the perspective of the trip from each of you.