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  The Russian Fisherman

Enjoying Russian food straight from the lake and forest, Shaun and Matt relax in the basic comforts of the Fisherman's kitchen
Shaun and Matt share a bounty of food with the Fisherman

Kicking up our feet on the serene shores of Lake Baikal in central Russia we had an opportunity to meet a man of the earth and his family.

After taking a left turn from the road, we weaved our way up a path towards the lake where we were all keen to spend the night within view of one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world.  Finally the lake came into view and looked perfect for everything we needed.  

The only problem per se, is that there were also a number of houses nestled down by the lake edge - something that is not the ideal situation due to security as well as respect for the locals.  However we were all tired and decided to make a go of it.  Respectfully before setting up our tents we walked over to what appeared to be a group of fishermen untangling a net after harvesting the late evenings catch.  

They eyed us suspiciously but after learning that we were foreigners the demeanor quickly changed and we were all invited into the closest house by one particularly boisterous and gregarious individual.

The Fisherman at work

Never actually learning his name, The Fisherman, as I will call him, was like most Russians, once in the army and based in Kazakhstan.  Never once letting the conversation die to a lull, he introduced us to his surprised family and quickly produced a feast of fresh blueberries. raspberries, delicious smoked fish and tea which we all consumed with relish and the continual prodding from our host to have more.

His home had the very basics with an unkempt yard and a house that barely looked as if it could keep itself together.  Obviously a home of a family that was of meager means.  Curling round our feet were small kittens, outside the bark of dogs mixed in with the clucks of the hens that provided the morning eggs.  Goats ambled through the yard and not far from the house cows provided the milk which was used in many of the dishes they consumed each day.

Ilja tries out his rowing skills

Regardless of these obvious hardships it mattered not and we were all treated to as much hospitality as he could afford and that much more.   After we set up  our tents besides the shore, Ilja joined him out on the row boat to once more collect some fish where he was taken aback by Ilja's mastery of the oars.  

The following morning we were again invited in for breakfast and as is usual in russia we had to insist on leaving when it was time to go.

I am continually amazed by how the people we are meeting are so warm, generous and hospitable and they take it upon themselves to invite us into their lives no matter how meager an existence it may be.  It always leads me to think how in the west we have so much more in material wealth but seem so poor in this type of generosity.  Why is it so that those with the least seem to give the most?

And to think he never told us his name . . . .