Just because we are politically incorrect, lame and ethnocentric, we decided that the name of our car attendant was Olga. And Olga liked my husband, a lot. And Olga peeked in our little cabin at will, day or night, and not once did she acknowledge me, probably because she had those splendid blue eyes set on Tom. And Olga pretended not to speak English when I asked her where the shower was. Oh, but she understood just fine when Tom asked the same question. Her ridiculously beautiful eyes mellowed and a girly smirk made its way across her pudgy face. No, no shower. Not in first class, not anywhere on the train. We will have to do without a shower for a whole, long week. And her announcement was followed by what I'm sure was a wink directed straight at my husband's eyes, which were by now ready to pop out of their sockets. No Shower? We had no option. We would have to practice some serious acrobatics in the airplane-size lavatory whenever we could not stand our own body odors. This Transiberian journey from Russia to Mongolia was going to be rough. Just the way I like it.
We scrambled for food like starving foragers. We ate broccoli, chives, and pickle-flavored potato chips. We downed them with cheap red wine and lukewarm beers followed by oodles of snickers bars for dessert. We bought expensive bananas, drank salty bottled water, and ate some delicious pastries baked on the train and delivered to our cabin by no other than giggly Olga. With such few food options on board, we decided to eat whatever the local vendors came to offer at each train station. Alas, fish was not only their main source of sustenance, but also the local specialty, and apparently the only real food available at all. Now, I'm not stranger to dry fish--my mother fed us copious amounts of it when I was growing up-- but bringing this fishy morsel into a tiny cabin after a week of not taking showers was not something I was willing to endure. So we bought the first bird we found. It looked like a human fetus, and because we were starving and had no morals, we found the sight irresistible. So we ate its wonderfully smoked flesh not knowing whether we were eating duck, chicken, turkey or some other winged creature. And it was delicious.