- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
242

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
242
gnats ; there were a lot of them, and wc knew that
these bring malaria with them. But what can one
do? Ifthe windows are shut, the heat is unbearable;
and if you open them, then the gnats come in. One
ought to sleep under mosquito-nets.
Otherwise this is a splendid, lazy life; one can
hardly think of a more beneficial rest than a journey
like this on one of these fine boats up or down the
Volga. From Astrakhan to Nizhni Novgorod is
seven days, and the return journey is five. As you
glide on over the broad waters, you see the life on
this giant river gliding by you, the banks on both
sides, the plains stretching inland, and the villages
with the great white churches and their high
domes; and you see the people working in the
fields. At long intervals the ship ties up at some
more important village or a town, and on the barge
that måkes the wharf you see peasants, grave men
and women and young folk—of the South Russian
type, darker than they are in the north, with a
blending of Tatar, Finnish, Mongol, and other
peoples. Near the shore their vehicles (telegas)
stand. The flat steppe-land, stretching far away
both east and west of this lower part of the Volga,
is the abode of the Mongolian Kalmuks and their
herds, and of the Kirghizes and Tatars.
On board there was a collection of people of
many kinds. There were orthodox Soviet func
tionaries, full of enthusiasm for the revolution and
the new model which is to bring Russia a new and
great future. There were rather more lukewarm or
doubting business men and merchants who were
ready to believe that all might be well, if only

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