Did our first dive of the expedition! We joined the local club who lent us the compressor on their weekly club day. They meet at 11am (a luxury of places with no currents to avoid) for their briefing. A room with about 16 men in their late forties acting very cool who were taken aback by two non-Russian girls strolling in. They looked at us with lots of suspicion, as mostly there are few women divers and as a group didn't really make us feel at ease. Although a couple did come to say hi after the briefing and we got lots of handshakes underwater!
We got assigned a guide as they didn't really believe that we could dive in cold (5°C) freshwater with no currents and ~20m visibility. But it was good as our guide, Kosta, was really nice and took us to see the famous dive sponges that are now dying off. On the whole we had a really nice, bimbly dive on the wall which drops down to >100m (mom, don't worry we stayed at 27m).
Their club day then proceeds as such: once people trickle out of the water they head to the bania (Russian sauna) where they eat, drink tea and go to the sauna to socialise. Now it was our turn to perhaps not be the best guests. We had proved that we vaguely knew how to dive so now perhaps even as a group they were more willing to accept us. However, we were being awkward as vegetarians and turned down their offer of fish and were rude by refusing to join them in the bania. I did have my girlie reason and with well over 20°C and blazing sun outside the just the thought of walking into a dark, hot humid room made my blood pressure plummet. I guess also mentioning, not directly but gossip spreads, that a sauna straight after a dive might not be ideal, had the same effect as telling a British diver that eating bacon butties before a dive isn't the healthiest choice! For those of you non-divers (or non Russian nor British): not the way forward if you want to make friends! Oh well