I was staying with a Russian girl called Nadya who I'd met on Olchon Island. One morning we hopped in the car and drove an hour out of Irkutsk to a small Siberian village. We walked around in the frosty grass, skated sones out onto the icy river, saw some kind of rotting carcass and wandered about chatting to locals.
Pavel was a man who burst out of his gate when he saw us coming, running towards us shouting UUUUAAAYYYY!!! then literally threw his arms around us both. Haha what a character. He invited us to his home and walking through his front door his wife gave a familiar look of ‘who’s he brought home now?!’ He bowled through the kitchen offering us tea, fresh honey and sweets. Before long, photo albums were out with pictures of bears he’d seen, X-rays of bowel problems and a strange artefact he’d excavated on site in northern Siberia. Pavel was an oil digger back in the day and told us he still does a bit of 'freelance work'. Well, this little eskimo looking container that he'd found was several metres deep underground in the middle of Siberia. There's a good chance that it's a significant archeological discovery, but the conversation quickly passed onto Pavel's lovers. I didn't have a clue what he was saying but I could tell by his whispering boysterous tone that he was sharing illicit information with us. Oh Pavel, why of course - he was a lady's man!
As we said our goodbyes he tried to give us gifts (he threw a dead dead fox around Nadya's neck), sprayed me with old soviet aftershave and made us promise to visit him again. He was one of the most expressive, charismatic men I’d ever met and was the personification of sentiments I was feeling in during my time in Siberia. I hope I get the chance to return one day and visit him.Words and pictures by Allan Dransfield.