Trying the Russian Baths in Russia
Typical Russian Banya

I was going to wait a few days before making a new post, but this is just too crazy to not share with you immediately.

Kinda like when you buy a Christmas present for someone, and the present is just SO good that waiting to give it to them all month nearly destroys you?

This is like that.

Last night my host mother and father decided to take me with them to this party for Men’s Day. I knew I was in for some swimming or some sauna time because they made me put on my swimming suit before we left home (Thank goodness I even brought a bathing suit with me to the tundra, right? We can all thank my mother for teaching me to be prepared.)


After thirty-five minutes of starring out the frosty window, I was starting to wonder if I would be able to find my way back home in the dark woods if my survival depended on it. After all, what if this turned out to be some scary, ritualistic, animal-sacrificing thing?…Ok, no more caffeine before bed.

When we arrived at our destination in “New Voronezh”, we went inside this building that looked more like military barracks, and walked upstairs a few floors. *Don’t think that I wasn’t feeling sketchy about the whole ordeal by this point. I was.

We went inside this room which was more like three giant rooms all connected. This place had billiards, a “pool” or as I call it the freeze-your-butt-off “baptismal font”, and two banyas.
We put our coats and bags down in the closet room and undressed into our bathing suits then went and sat down at this really long, wooden table that was covered in food – oh yeah, picnic style! On our way to the table of joy (anything with this much food on it is considered a joyful table in my world.) we passed the two banyas…. ALERT! ALERT! naked men and women in BOTH.

Suddenly the walk to the table of joy felt like my last walk of happiness. *Cue doomed music now** How long could I stall going on this particular naked adventure? Was I really alright with sitting in a steam room with that much genitalia?

I tried to enjoy the food while my doom hovered over me like a thick black cloud. Actually the food was pretty good! More mystery meat, of course, but that’s half the fun on living in Russia! Russia is like a box of meat chocolates, ya never know what part your gonna get!

The time had come, and I felt so weird walking into that banya, I tried to avert my eyes as I passed two sprawled out, naked women. I sat down as quickly as possible so that I could face forward and not see anything (just like a Marine I wasn’t going to turn my head in any direction for fear of psychological consequences). My host mother wore a swimming suit AND a towel, thankfully. Not that she isn’t thin and beautiful, but I feel like seeing her naked would have made the rest of my stay in her home rather awkward. My host father was indeed wearing his black and red speedo though (this might haunt me momentarily).

I don’t know if you have experienced a sauna before? Aren’t they kinda refreshing. A banya is a sauna on crack cocaine. Not nearly as refreshing, it’s more like taking a shot of crazy hard liquor, or trying to breathe in a swimming pool. When I inhaled, my nose ring was burning my nostril. I could barely breathe inside, the heat was entering every single pore so quickly. It’s like when you have too many sweaters on inside a warm house and your skin starts to itch as you get hotter and hotter. You can’t itch the banya itch, you just have to get OUT. After about five minutes, I did.

When you exit the banya, you customarily go and jump into this small pool that contains freezing water. Not just freezing to people who’ve been sitting in a banya, but normal people would probably yelp out in pain too. I chose the cold shower next to the pool because I have been in bad car accidents before and I feel no need to see anymore of my life flash before my eyes.

While showering off I probably saw four to five naked men get in and out of the pool because they don’t walk into the pool, they run and jump. No warning. Just BOOM! naked man.

Scarred for life.

I only did the banya thing twice, I felt sunburned after the second time I went in. I’m pretty sure that had to do with the wet leaves that they were beating me with inside the banya, but that’s another story for another day.

I hope you all enjoyed this post, I actually kinda feel better about the whole thing now that I’ve blogged my horrific experience.  Happy visualizing!

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