We drove to pick up another friend, a guy called Artyom. He was passionate in a slightly scary way. Then we got on our way. Anna assured me we were now going back to camp, although at this point her words were a bit slurred. She acknowledged this but stayed sure that we were going back. We drove past a group of teenagers and one of them had a guitar. Yuri slowed and opened the window. He yelled at them to stop and play us a song. Coming from the kind of car we were in, the poor kids obediently stopped and did so. Yuri got out and produced a megaphone from the boot of his car and dedicated the song to me. He also brought out a giant heart made of roses (as big as his arm span) and showed it to me. I think he saw I wasn’t impressed though as he immediately put it back. After this the boys tried to make their way back. They had had vodka too, and were drunk. They couldn’t remember the way back. I couldn’t count the number of times we stopped at a fork in the empty motorway, only to take one way and realise it was the wrong one. I tried to stay silent. The boys laughed and jeered loudly. I could hear they were sometimes mocking me, although Anna didn’t translate these bits, out of kindness. I didn’t care what they thought of me anyway. After the motorway confusion came the empty, dark, foggy forest roads. Being stuck in a forest, in Russia, at night, in the care of three drunken teenage boys whom you don’t know, nor even understand, is a fairly undesirable situation to be in, especially as a woman. Artyom and Yuri had aggressive laughs. Anna and I were worried and more a bit scared.
Then thankfully – thank God – we pulled up at the camp gates. They let us out. Molye walked us up to the gates and said sorry. Then he got back into the car and they drove off to go get more pissed at the army camp down the road. Anna and I walked back to our room fairly shell shocked. When we got in there, we sat on my bed and starting crying and hugged tightly. We were so happy we hadn’t been harmed. We had been so lucky.
Overall though, weirdly, neither of us regretted going. Anna said it was a taste of what, not everybody, but many young Russian people enjoy doing for entertainment: drinking heavily and driving fast. In the UK young people drink a lot, but it’s not that typical to do it at the same time as ripping around motorways. It was informative for us both to see it first hand. Also, we both learnt a valuable lesson – do not get in a car with strangers. It really should be obvious as you hear it so much, but sometimes you learn the hard way.
I also want to say that I now honestly believe that the two boys were actually just trying to impress us and show us a fun time. Unfortunately, my culture shock and lack of understanding meant it had the opposite effect.