I know, weird, right? Like, I'm some sort of business professional now, out there jetting around the country in business class wearing a suit or something.
Well, OK, that's an exaggeration. Of course I wasn't actually wearing a suit. Anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes would have known that bit wasn't true. And I'm not actually "jetting" around the country so much as driving in a hatchback, but the part about a business trip? That part was true.
Just to give you an idea of how big Russia is, I thought I'd include this map of our trip.
Now, I know your first reaction is to look at it and say "Meh. Doesn't look like much." Well, let me just put the record straight. That trip right there is over 2900 kilometers. That's almost 2000 miles. You could drive from Boston to Atlanta, and then turn north again and go to Chicago, and still not travel as far as that little blue line in the above picture. Russia is freaking massive.
Anyway, the trip itself was a chance for my business partner and I to meet with some people involved in the setup of our pine nut business. First we went to Novosibirsk where the project manager/architect is based (that's him in the picture at the top) and also the place where the equipment for processing pine nuts is being manufactured.
The architect (and Scott's friend, shown above, perhaps a bit too excited about the sign that we were given) threw us a barbecue, complete with the most delicious sausages you've ever had. Some sort of combination of elk meat and pine nuts - seriously amazing.
After resolving some of the issues with our production facility design, we traveled to another nearby city to visit an operating pine nut shelling facility to check out their equipment. It was a real answer to even meet these people; they were fantastic and incredibly helpful.
I don't have many pictures, because it's kind of boring to show pictures of business meetings, so I'll leave you with a few shots taken along the road. Not only is Russia huge, it is amazingly beautiful.
Anyway, it's good to be home. Actually, there is one more bit of news since we last posted: Steven is doing much better.
A few of you might have gotten a frantic email from us about this, but last week Steven had a low-grade fever for a few days. Nothing major, we thought, just a sinus infection or something that would run its course. Then, out of the blue, he began to complain of stomach pain, specifically in the lower right part of his stomach. When he doubled over in pain and pointed right at that part of his stomach, saying the left side felt fine but the right side hurt him sharply, immediately the situation became scary.
Appendicitis isn't a major problem in the West, because you just go to the MD and they cut it out. However, here in T-land where the quality of medical care can vary, invasive surgery is not something to trifle with. After briefly weighing the odds of appendix rupture on the journey, we decided to risk the trip over the mountains. 5 hours later we were in the emergency room in Abakan (see below).
Two days of tests later, it was revealed that the problem was nothing to do with the appendix at all, but some sort of inflammation of the lining of the bladder, which, combined with some constipation and a sinus infection, had managed to give the exact appearance of acute appendicitis. Phew!
He is good, no? Thanks to all of you who lifted us up during a scary day or two! And thanks to all of you for being a part of our team here. See you again in a week or two!