'I'm not flying Aeroflot and that's it. Bugger the expense Paul. End of conversation'.
And so our seventh morning in Russia began.
After a little more than half a year of living off my limited cunning, some fairly rudimentary maps of South East Asia and an overdeveloped sense of smell, I was almost at the home of my forefathers. The thieving bastards! Six months of bartering, dubious personal hygiene, baksheesh and Nasi Goering for breakfast had me longing for the familiarity of an English speaking country. Shit, New Zealand would have done. I had a problem though. A five foot two Welsh, ex-girlfriend in the midst of a bad hair week, who, as it panned out, had watched one to many documentaries on Russian air safety.
'It's a morning flight kiddo, surely the vodka wont kick in till after we're safely on the tarmac. May even help', I offered optimistically.
'Paul', when in the mood she had a way of saying my name that could coax me from a coma, 'if you make me fly Aeroflot, that's the end of anything we've ever had'.
'Bite me', I thought, but didn't say.
Never mind the fact that I owed Lithuania's current account deficit to VISA and had yet to invent a resume that could fool the masses, Aeroflot was now out of the equation and in effect another hundred and fifty pounds had just been added to my spiraling debt. I rang KLM, then made a mental note to start authority classes as soon as I had the nerve.
After a breakneck trip from Moscow's Hotel Rossiya to the airport with Yuri the speed freak who dabbled in taxi driving and speaking a mound of crap, we discovered our flight had been delayed by an hour. To add a diarrhea icing to the dog log cake, we were now going via Amsterdam. A night of hallucinogenic cigarettes, scantily clad women, canals, daffodils and clogs held merit. But four hours spent tantalising close to the debauchery of Europe's capital of sin was a kick in the cod piece. I consoled myself in the knowledge that Schipol had a casino, spent the remaining hundred and fifty pounds in my wallet on two toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches, a beer with freaky writing and a newspaper that offered more than just pictures to hold my attention.
The bleakness of my predicament started to hit home. Life on the road was hours away from being a memory and the inevitability of a new home away from home held more anxieties than hopes. My meager belongings were now on their way to the belly of a Boeing, I was probably seven or eight hours from Heathrow and then, who knew what. I had to a find a job, accommodation, money for a non-tropical wardrobe, a new stable of friends and an attitude to match. I wanted to sleep, but I had a plane to catch.