BLOG from Sochi: The Art of Communication

6:10 PM, Feb 4, 2014   |    comments
  • Homeless pup of the day.
  • The very confusing coffee machine.
  • Looks like yogurt, right? Nope, sour cream.
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SOCHI, Russia -- Communication is an art. And when it's not, you say and do and eat the wrong things.

My neck hurts. In the past two days, I have done more nodding and gesticulating than I have done in a long time. As in, ever.

From the moment we arrived in Sochi, communication has been difficult. The Russians have been welcoming, but their English is incredibly limited and my Russian does not exist beyond Hello/Goodbye/Thank you/Please. It's clear they've been taught some wonderful greeting lines, like "Welcome to Sochi!" And "Please walk this way," and the reason these lines get them in trouble is because we journalists then launch into conversation."So do I go this way for customs?" And they will respond, "Welcome to Sochi!" Or "Please walk this way." And when words don't work,  wild gesticulation begins. I have witnessed (and done) copious amounts of arm waving and miming in the past 36 hours.

he twin beds in our hotel are firm. Very firm. The elevator broke in the first 10 hours so it's been up and down the stairs to the 8th floor. The water pressure in the shower is fabulous and clearly does not have a conservation filter on it.

There is a wild dog issue in Sochi. Not a wild-attack-dog issue, just wild dogs. I heard some of them playing/fighting/making a ruckus around 4 a.m. this morning. I fell back asleep after listening to them for 15 minutes or so.

Going to breakfast at the hotel is like entering the U.N.(cause I do that all the time). These are my brother journalists. We are compatriots here and as such, the universal head nod seems to suffice. But the nodding can get kind of silly. I sat at a table with some Asian journalists. They nodded. I nodded. They nodded. I nodded again. They nodded. Finally, I pretended my silent phone was ringing and grabbed it with great urgency.

Then I dug into my breakfast, a big bowl of yogurt. Except it wasn't. It was sour cream. I almost kept eating it, because one of the other journalists saw my scrunched up face after my spoon entered my mouth...but I didn't. I pushed the bowl away, bold journalist that I am. I won't ever see these people again. If all they have to talk about is that American reporter lady who ate the sour cream, then their lives are way more boring than mine.

The line for the coffee machine at breakfast was maddeningly slow and when I reached it, I understood why. There are a dozen buttons with coffee pictures, yet all the pictures look the same. I managed to choose a cappuccino and was so thrilled with myself I wanted to turn around and yell to the room, "Yahtzee!"

We're in the the mountains today. My live reports begin tomorrow and I can promise you, you will notice a dramatic improvement in my head nodding.

Jaye Watson is in Sochi covering the Olympics for 11Alive. You can LIKE her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter to follow her journey. 

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