You Say You Want a Revolution

I can't remember the last time I was in an airport waiting for luggage along with a flight from Managua. Welcome to Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow. The passport control soldier was in a glass-enclosed booth with a large shoulder high shelf that hid his checklists. He could look at the calibrations painted on his window to check my height against what was printed in the passport. A mirror behind and above me gave the soldier an opportunity to inspect my backside and the height of my shoe heels. Customs was much easier. The official simply waved me through when my bags went through an x-ray machine. Still, an x-ray machine after the plane ride is an unusual debarkation procedure.

The purpose of our tour was to visit religious sites significant to the "millennium of Christianity." Nineteen-eighty-eight was one thousand years after Prince Vladimir of ancient Kiev required his subjects to be baptized in the Dnieper River. Before the trip I had made up my mind that every possible chance I would go off on my own to see more directly the peoples of the Soviet Union. Part of my planning was limited by the fact that the Soviets did not issue the visa until five days before the trip—standard practice. In addition, there was no information about which hotels we would be staying at in Moscow, Leningrad, and Kiev. This, too, is standard practice and has been so for many years now. Even after we arrived in the Soviet Union,...

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