Day 1: Goddamned Germans stole my booze.
The majority of my flight was unremarkable, until I got to Frankfurt. There things took a turn for the worse.
I bought a bottle of Patron silver at the duty-free shop in DC, thinking to bring a bit of Hispanic culture to Kiev. Naturally, I didn’t have a chance t pack it in my checked luggage, so I brought it as a carry-on. When I arrived at Frankfurt, I had about an hour to get to the far end of the airport and make my flight. So I rush to the gate, and get stopped about halfway through for another security check. The Germans here are very thourough and exact about the searches, so it took less time than going through an American (or Ukranian, for that matter) security checkpoint.
The Krauts then tell me that my bottle is too big, and I’ll either have to check it or pitch it. With time growing short, I think to myself “F*$% it” and tell the guy to get rid of it. Smoldering at the loss of a damn good bottle of tequila, I rush to the gate and barely make it on the plane. Had I been about ten seconds late, I would’ve had to risk diving into the plane.
I finally get seated and relish in having an entire row to myself. I nod off for a bit, and wake up when the plane touches ground at Borispol. I quickly gather my laptop case and head off the plane, eager for a chance to stretch my legs and breathe some fresh air. What I failed to realize, however, was that I forgot to ask for a customs form. So when we arrive at the terminal, I end up mixed in with the huge rush of people trying to get to the pitifully small and narrow kiosks holding the precious forms.
Then I realize I don’t have my pen anymore. And only about three people actually have one with them. How they snuck them past those heartless krauts I have no idea. And I’m probably better off that way.
So after about an hour trying to find the elusive combination of English-speaker with a pen, and about three botched forms, I finally stand in line. And wait……
Finally my turn arrives. And guess what? A mistake! I forgot to fill in one section. Luckily there was a Scotsman who was in the same predicament, so I was lucky to use his pen once he finished. By that point I was ready to open a vein just for something to write with. And I’m sure it wouldn’t have gone over too well if I passed out from blood loss on my first date.
I get my nice little customs stamp, gather my bags, and head out looking for a random Ukranian holding a sign with my name horribly misspelled and speaking maybe a total of ten words in English. Imagine my surprise and relief when Brett, the owner of Kiev Connections, was standing there with a sign bearing my name. And spelled correctly, too! I guess after four years in the Marine Corps, I’m used to putting up with constant spelling errors and the problems that ensue.
Throughout my trip, Brett was a huge help. After craming my suitcase and laptop case into his car, we take off and head to the apartment. On the way, he gives me a brief tour and rundown of what I should expect while I’m here, along with plenty of recommendations for date ideas. He asks a few questions about what’s going on in Iraq, and I tell him the same thing I tell everyone else: what the media reports is only a facet of the whole picture, and it’s the facet guaranteed to get them the most ratings and the most money. It’s a lot calmer and quieter than people think. He also mentioned that quite a few military personnel and civilian contractors come to Kiev after getting back from Iraq, something that came as a surprise to me at first. I didn’t think that many military guys would come to Kiev looking for a wife. Then he says that most are just looking for a good time, so I mentally take note of the possibility of the women thinking I’m just another sex tourist looking to make up for seven months of celibacy. Luckily this wasn’t the case at all, but I was mentally prepared all the same.
So we get back to my apartment and get everything settled. Soon after this I realize that my bank had decided to shut my card off due to my using it at an ATM nearby. So I spend a good amount of time at their office trying to straighten that out (even after I told the bastards I was going here two weeks before). I end up getting a halfhearted promise that it’ll get fixed soon.
I also find out that my original plans weren’t going to work. When I signed up with Kiev Connections, I went with their MatchMaker service and got five women who wanted to meet. So I write letters to these five, and only got a response from two of them. I figure they had changed their minds, and kept writing to the first two that had responded. When I got back to civilization, I sent letters to a coupel more, and only got one response. So I was counting on just meeting three women. Little did I know that every woman was ready to meet me! Needless to say, I was happy.
I hash out a quick schedule at the office for meeting everyone, and find out that Yulia, the first woman on my initial list, was available that evening. I was still a bit jet-lagged, needed a shave badly, and my clothes smelled faintly of cigarettes and airports. Not wanting to disappoint, I agreed. And after a little more nagging from me to my bank, I got enough cash to take care of everything else and head out to dinner.
Yulia showed up at the office at 7, and I have to admit, I was dumbstruck. Her agency photo looked good, and she appeared to be a sweet, wholesome girl. I also thought she’d be a bit shorter, but that was a mistake on my part. The woman that showed up looked like Audrey Hepburn’s cute younger sister, a model of classy femininity……………..
The rest of this story can be read on the net’s busiest Russian Women Information Forum – RUA. The part of the article above is reproduced at “The Real Deal” with permission from the Russian Ukrainian Adventures Forums.