Resting at Vetluga river

Went to Varnavino, Russia on August 6, 2010

In August lots of forest fires were burning in Russia. Luckily, I spent this time in countryside far away from any fires. But to begin with, here is a video that describes the situation. Basically, this is what it looked like in our region of Nizhny Novgorod even though I guess the video was shot in south of Russia.

On July 29th I went with my parents to a summer camp at Vetluga river, approximately 150 km north-east of Nizhny Novgorod. Because it felt extremely hot in the city because of the heat wave that stayed in Russia for 3 months, it felt very refreshing in the camp. We have enjoyed our stay in the wooden houses during those two weeks when people in cities and certain villages suffered a lot. Every morning we were swimming in a lake and then after breakfast in Vetluga. Road trips were another activity that we enjoyed.

The summer camp is situated near Varnavino, a small town nowadays which was a monastery in 1600s. St. Varnava has founded this monastery. I guess it was rich and joyful area before October revolution. But then lots of destruction happened and people fled away. What is remaining nowadays are either ruins or stones which are put in place of destroyed churches.

It is quite unusual that despite the wide-scale efforts to restore old churches and monasteries in Russia, there are still lots of ruins in this particular area. I guess this is because it is quite far away from the center of our region and not too many people are living there nowadays. However, this area looks so beautiful that it is possible to justify restoring the destroyed buildings, for example to attract more tourists. There are lots of abandoned homes in the villages, there are also lots of homes that were acquired as summer homes of people living in cities. To me it seems that life there has not recovered yet after Big Bang of the revolution, almost 100 years after it happened. I donтАЩt have the pictures of abandoned country-side life there but it looks very impressive and makes you think of those people, their lives, and what happened to them.

We have visited Svetloyar lake which is famous for its invisible Kitezh town. The story goes that there was a beautiful town 1000 years ago. However, it has collapsed into the lake to prevent its capture when Mongols have approached it during their conquest of Russia. There are a number of theories nowadays of how the lake was shaped, from volcano to meteorite strike to who knows what.

The peopleтАЩs belief is that you have to walk three times around the lake praying to get your sins forgiven. In other words, this remote place is deeply connected to our history and culture. But we have not walked around the lake, instead we were only swimming there. Also, there are a number of trails out there going to the burial site of three monks respected for their saint lives. Also there is a stone which the saying goes has a footprint of St. Virgin Mary.

There is a village Vladimirskoe next to the lake. It has beautiful museum where local craftsmen are building beautiful things. I have noticed that this whole area of north-east of our region is abundant with crasftsmen тАУ for exapmle Khohloma in Semenov, ceramics in Svetloyar, etc. To me this culture looks like traces of old civillization that we have so little evidence of nowadays. We can only come more often and try to learn more. It is because of the significance of this area that great Rimsky-Korsakov has written opera dedicated to this area.