I would love to hear the story of how you almost got locked up in a Russian prison
Alright, this is a rather long story so settle in.
HOW I NEARLY ENDED UP IN RUSSIAN PRISON THROUGH NO FAULT OF MY OWN
When I was 21 years old I went to Russia in order to do service work for a few years through my church. (For example, we helped a school for underprivileged students get modern technology in their classrooms). Going to do what I was doing required a specific kind of visa which expired every three months so I had to leave Russia and go to Finland to renew my visa. I had two passports I used in order to do this and my church would make sure the passports and visas were all in order. Or so I thought.
The first time I have to renew my visa I leave Russia with two days left on it, no problem. I spend a night in Finland and pick up my new visa without any incident. I get to the airport and I am standing in line to get on the plane when the stewardess asks for my passport and visa. I show my old one and my new one to her and she looks at me confused and asks if I am sure I want to go back to Russia with 7 hours left on the old one. I, being an idiot, said of course I want to go back. So I get on the plane and check the dates and to my horror my new visa doesn’t kick in for a week. So I am flying back into Russia with a few hours left to get back out of the country.
I start having a massive panic attack and when we land in St. Petersburg I go to the leader of my group who left the country in tears and show him what had happened. He made some phone calls and found out the person in charge of the dates on my visas screwed up massively and mixed my dates up with another person. Now I am freaking out even more because the clock is literally ticking down on me and if I have an expired visa I could get in major trouble and so could my church.
Again, my leader makes more calls and gets connected with someone in St. Petersburg who tells him to get everyone else on their planes, leave one person with me and he will get us over the border ASAP. So I get left alone with another girl, a phone, and bribe money “Just in case”. Oh, and I barely speak any Russian at this point and the girl I was with barely does either just fyi.
So when we are left alone we get a phone call and go outside of the airport to a really shady taxi. The man greets us and lets us know he will take us to Vyburg where some man will meet us and take us over the border. I have no idea what taking me over the border means, but when we get to Vyborg my visa is already expired. I am illegal in Russia.
So we get out and meet Sergei who tells us to get in his van and he will make sure we make it. So we get to the Russian check points. There are four check points I have to get through, three Russian, one Finnish. The first two Russian check points these scary officers swing open the van door, flashlights glowing in our faces and we show them our passports. Neither of these times do they look at the date of expiration. So we get to keep moving forward.
At the last check point we have to get out of the car and walk up to this booth where a visa checker works. The girl with me goes first and of course no problems. Then I slowly make my way to the booth, shaking like a leaf because I am so scared of what is going to happen. I hand her my passport just as an officer enters her booth, eyeing me suspiciously.
This lady looks at my passport and looks back at me. She says in Russian. “Your visa is expired.”
I stutter out in the most broken Russian. “I am trying to get to Finland. I didn’t mean to be here with a bad visa. I just want to get to Finland.”
She glares at me and then her and the officer behind her begin talking. I wait there 10 minutes while they talk and the only words I understand are illegal and prison. I am sure I am going to spend a night in Russian jail. She even answers a call during this time and I just know it is the end for me.
Then a miracle happens. Her face softens and she turns her attention to me and says, “We aren’t supposed to do this, but I am going to let you off just this one time. Make sure your visa is done correctly next time.” Then stamps the passport and lets me through.
The euphoric sense of relief that overcame me in that moment I will never forget. The final checkpoint was a piece of cake, Finland let me in no problems and I crashed in the van on the drive towards Helsinki.
When I make it back to Yekaterinburg, where I was serving, I came to find out the sheer amount of bribes and political phone calls made to ensure I didn’t end up in Russian prison. The guy who made the mistake on my passport apologized to me and made sure that they changed how they did visas from that point on.
So, by a miracle I didn’t end up in Russian prison, but I probably should have.
I sleeped in tent. I heard that at the camp someone went and rattled ware. I thought that climbers returned. But climbers didn’t speak among themselves. This was strange. I asked: “Who here? ” To me answered: “rrrrrrrrrrrr”. I understood that it was the bear. I told it: “leave” But To me answered: “rrrrrrrrrrrr”.
The bear ate all porridge which I cooked for climbers. Then bear left. This was the small bear.
Climbers returned at night. I told them abot bear. They told me that they met bear too. They told me that Lena saw an ass of a bear and cried: “What terrible ass! ” The bear escaped.
Russian lady on Something Awful describing a trip
russian boy came over last night to swim and we were Very Close in the pool and my father and nephew came outside with flashlights. and my nephew was like OH WHO IS THAT WHO ARE YOU HIII. and it was very embarrassing and kind of hilarious.