It was very difficult for the boys to leave Cheboksary with all the warmth and hospitality they received there. As stated before, Natasha, Alexander and a friend (I'll get his name soon) helped West and Jeff get around town. Well, just to go above and beyond, without the team having any expectations at all, Olga (Alexander's wife) made them some chicken (which they ate for dinner tonight). They said it was delicious. In addition, Olga (Natasha's mom) made them some Borscht. Alexander described it as a very nourishing dish with cabbage, beetroots, and meat. You can see it in one of the pictures. She and Natasha, also, brought them some candies, famous in Cheboksary. Olga made them Kompot. It is a fruit drink with berries floating in it. Very refreshing. She also brought them oranges and hard boiled eggs. Someone (Olga's) made what West described as pancakes with meat in them. They will eat those tomorrow. Much better than the food they've been eating on the river, recently.
They had a great send-off. Alexey from the apartment management, Alexander, wife, friends, paddlers, Natasha, Olga etc. all came to see them leave. Nikolai Svirdov and Vladimir Efymenko escorted the team from the Cheboksary boathouse to the hydroelectric dam they had to portage. They were paddling K-1 Standard kayaks with wing paddles. Alexander met them on the other side of the dam with their heavier gear so they didn't have to portage with the additional weight of the re-supply of Spiz, Spaz, and dehydrated food. While portaging, they came across a lizard about 8" long. Kind of weird to see, for the team.
Alexander took the time to add minutes to West's Russian cell phone and mail a package out so the team could get on the river. His wife, Olga, was extremely patient throughout their entire visit, waiting in the car and accompanying them wherever they went.
West and Jeff met some cute little girls. They asked them if they had kids. West shared stories of Isabella (his daughter) and showed them pictures of her from his cell phone. They loved it. West says it made him feel a little more "human" in these girl's eyes and they could relate a little better knowing he's a dad.
Last, they have decided they will no longer eat at McDonalds. Yesterday, against the wishes of their hosts, they went to McDonalds for lunch and dinner. They were very hungry and wanted to eat quickly. Between them, they ate 12 burgers, 4 large fries and 4 large Cokes in one day.
Please take the time out to view the picture gallery as I have added pictures of this great group of hosts. I wish I could have met them, in person.