West and Jeff received their permits this morning to enter into the Delta Region. The left Astrakhan around 11:30 and arrived at Procosta at around 7:30 p.m. They were greeted about 3 miles upriver from Procosta by Alexander and Viktor as well as another person (waiting on their name). They escorted the team to Procosta from there. Once at Procosta, they were greeted by the base director, Ilmira. A woman, Aksana, greeted them with a shot of Vodka for West and a fruit shot of "Sok" for Jeff. (I know that's wrong because I cannot find any info on Google) In addition, they offered them a nice little appetizer. West wasn't sure what it was but suspects it was cavier. I'll get clarification. He said it was delicious.
The team had a pleasant day paddling. Originally, they had an idea the area they were entering would be swampy and marshes. Actually, it was quite the contrary...big towns, lush lands and cattle and horse ranches. Everyone seems to be gearing up for a big fishing season. The houses are all very close to the water, not on stilts and land is very dry. Jeff looked up their annual rainfall and, according to his sources, its about 12" annually.
They arrived at Procosta and were greeted with rustic, but extremely nice cabins. Each cabin had air conditioning, was very clean and well-kept. Along with Ilmira and Aksana, they met the two guides, Alexander and Viktor, a younger gentleman and Nashti (taking lots and lots of pictures) and Misha. Everyone was very accomodating and extremely nice, although West and Jeff will get to test their Russian-learning skills...no one speaks English. He says it hasn't been a problem, at all, though.
After our initial phone call with check-in, West called back. They had just gotten back to the cabin after dinner. Both Jeff and West could not say enough great things about the meal they had just been served. It started with fish soup which was "awesome". West said they serve a cole slaw that is fantastic. He said they don't make it with mayonnaise which is great because he doesn't normally like it. He said it tasted very fresh and had lots of cabbage. Then, they were brought a dish that looked similar to pizza with bread on top and fish inside...sort of like a stuffed-pizza. On the top, was the logo of the fishing guide company, Procosta. He said it was wonderful! They were served huge "slabs" of fish. One was grilled sole with potatoes all topped with fresh dill. Jeff was exclaiming, just as excitedly as West, and was equally as impressed with their meal.
Tomorrow, is Caspian Sea day! They will leave around 8:30 a.m. and will continue until the finish the expedition. They will be escorted downriver by two boats provided by Procosta. Once they finish, they will be motored back upriver to Procosta. Then, let the celebration begin!