04 September 2014

Lately, My Summer at the Dacha

Hi strangers.

It's been awhile, but the leaves are crisping and the sun is setting earlier and it's time to get back into tune with this blog.

I had an interesting summer! I know I told you all about how our friends left and I was feeling really bummed about that, but I had a pretty nice distraction right after they left. I met with a family that was looking for lessons for their daughter and they needed them to be everyday, full immersion because she was going to attend an international school in Milan and needed to be more familiar with the English language. They asked me if I would like to stay with them at their dacha (a Russian country house) Mondays through Thursdays and I accepted.

Normally I would have been pretty apprehensive about staying over at someone's house, but I wasn't getting a lot of work because all my students had gone abroad for the summer and, to be honest, I kind of needed a break from Moscow. I knew I'd miss Ben, but it was for just a short amount of time during the week and only for a month total, so I knew we'd all be fine.

And with that, I packed up my bags and travelled on a tin can train out past the city, through endless forests and fields, past villages and people bathing naked in rivers to a faraway region.
And it was awesome.

I was welcomed by open arms by her babushka and felt immediately at home. We spent our days outside, swinging on swings, catching butterflies, eating pickles, dancing to spice girls, doing "yoga" (really just her crawling all over me), talking, talking, sitting in kiddie pools and shooting each other with squirt guns, and sneaking up into my room to watch Barbie cartoons on my iPad.

I felt relaxed and rejuvenated. Where we stayed was unreasonably quiet. Not a soul was around. As the sun sat each night, with a belly full of shashlik, I ran through the empty roads, the warm sun cloaking itself around me. Ben and I played Words with Friends with each other and skyped every night, my heart filled with a whole new sense of peace. When I came back on the weekends, we spent time with our friends, drinking beers and leaning out our balconies, enjoying the warm air.

 I spent about a month with Marina and her family before it was time for her to go move to "Italian". To be honest, I was pretty sad. I had a really great time with her and I feel like spending time with her and her family taught me a lot I didn't know about Russia and Russians. Sometimes living in a big city like Moscow tricks you into thinking you know it all; you just see people the way they are in this large, unforgiving pack and you forget that they go home and completely change, just like you do.

Remember a lifetime ago when I wrote about being brave? There was a time when I felt like the very act of moving to Russia had made me brave and invincible. But I did backslide a bit. I felt exhausted by the city, I felt like I'd seen what I needed to see and I was over it. Well, I feel new and brave again. I feel--and this is going to sound super hippy dippy, but I am hippy dippy so whatever--really centered and at peace. Things aren't getting to me like they were a couple months ago. And that's a really nice feeling.

Anyway, I wanted to share some pictures of my summer at the dacha with you. These were all taken with my crappy iPhone, but I hope it gives you an idea (some of you might recognize these from my instagram account @lisahoraan).



  1. Lisa this sounds amazing! I'm so glad you got to do this. xo

  2. I'm glad you had such a nice experience - where exactly were you?

    I'm living in the region now and it's been long enough that I feel like I'm losing my mind/totally missing being able to pop into the city whenever. Clearly you found the right balance and that's amazing.

    1. I was in Istra.

      And girl, get your butt to the center! Come hang out with us!

  3. oh yay! I miss spending time in the countryside with babushka! :-) It's awesome that you live in Moscow, that's where I'm from!


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