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A little addendum from November's journey: between exploring Yoshkar-Ola and visiting the pagan ritual, we've ventured out to Cheboksary - the capital of the neighboring region, Chuvash republic. It's interesting that the Chuvash are completely different nation ethnically and linguistically from the Mari - they're Turkic. My relative said that there is a little bit of tension between the two - showing up in, for example, the tendency of the road police in Chuvashia to have prejudice against the drivers of the cars with Mari license plates (12/RUS as opposed to 21/RUS in Chuvashia), not forgiving minor violations and writing tickets instead.
Our visit was very brief and the weather inclement, so there isn't much to show. Overall the city looks pretty typical.
R-176 road between Yoshkar-Ola and Cheboksary. We saw a crashed truck in a ditch along the way, but I decided not to stop to photograph it because I wasn't on duty - and pretty far from home turf anyway. By the looks of it, the police and medics had already done their job by the time we arrived, even though getting the heavy vehicle out of its resting place was probably going to take longer.
A runestone in the downtown, explaining the meaning of traditional ornaments in two languages.
The Drama theatre.
A pedestrian bridge across a small lagoon and towards the Defender Mother monument.
A wooden ship on the embankment. Note the lantern post design - it's similar to one of the symbols found on the runestone above.
I can imagine that in summer it's pretty pleasant around, but not in the pre-winter snow and slush. After eyeballing the surroundings for a little, we set back to Yoshkar-Ola.