"Six Weeks In Kiev"


Roger Merritt

Part III

Tuesday, June 1

The hot water has been off for eight days in a row, but I felt good today anyway. Neil Prokop joined us for devotional today. We had a great singing session. Chris requested that we have a special prayer from now on, before the readers arrive, to give us faith to remove the obstacles that the Devil has put in "high places" to keep people from believing in God.

Ira, my newest reader, and her seven-year-old son, Valerya, were first. She reads well and has good understanding, but needs more practice speaking English. She is a science research assistant, and seems to believe the Bible. She is Trans-Caucasian, but I can't remember which republic she said she came from.

Olga Platanova was next, read well, and had to leave early. She told me about the plans for her fifteen-year-old daughter to spend the summer with her mother, I'm not sure where, but somewhere in the country.

Nick Ostrovsky and I talked some about the history of Europe in our session, and then it was time for lunch. Lunch was a bit tired, but we had a new dish: beef and potatoes served in a brown sauce inside of a little china pot (individual pots), with a little lid on top. We all agreed that this was tasty, and at least looked like a different way to prepare the same beef that we have all the time, at least for the time being.

The Johnson's and Arthur were also eating in the Lybid. They are inseparable. It's always nice to see their three young daughters. They are so alive, and well adapted. Quite a ray of sunshine.

Yury Zorin did not show up for the first time. I ended up talking to Andre for an hour because his teacher, Scott Broadway, was away trying to renew his resident visa. A slow, but necessary process.

Neil Prokop, was around, so I showed him my pictures of England. He has been to England several times, and enjoyed them. He is a self-described Anglophile like me.

My slow reader Dimitry, who I will call "Dima," wants his wife to read with me too. She came and introduced herself, and I scheduled her for next week. Her name is Lena.

Marina was back brightly, after being sick. She is finishing University soon and getting ready to face the meager job prospects. We had a good, morally focused discussion, and found two sports subjects that we both like--gymnastics and figure skating. She seemed to know a lot about them from watching TV, and she looks like a right little gymnast, or skater, herself.

Tuesday night I was invited over to Scott's flat for dinner. It was the first time I had been there--except for the first night I was in Kiev, but then I only got a glimpse of the outside, from Tim's van. I had no idea where it was, until now. It seems to be very close to central Kiev. Scott and Mitch cooked dinner for Chris, Luke, Donnie and I. It was "vakoosna" (Russian for tasty). They had nice lettuce, with a western brand salad dressing, baked potatoes, CORN!, barbecued pork, and bread rolls. This meal was delicious--quite a change from the ordinary. Scott has a nice flat; a one bedroom affair, with a fine balcony view of the back of buildings on Kreshchatik. He has a mahogany colored bookcase, which is the most attractive piece of living room furniture that I have seen so far. The flat is on the fifth floor of a regular "Khrushchev Era" apartment building (which are typically five floors tall).

We listened to a variety of music on his portable stereo. Glorious! I haven't had access to music at my flat, so anything sounded good to me. Chris Lovingood showed us a silly trick with a coke bottle. When he shakes it in his mouth, the fizz makes his cheeks bulge. Childish, but Chris can turn anything into a laugh. One unique feature about the flat is that the shower is in the kitchen, and the refrigerator is by the front door!

Vladimir, a young man from church who is college-aged, good looking, and active, came and talked to us about our plans to go to Yalta, and concluded that it was too far away. I gathered that he was checking into this, and was acting as Scott's informer. Vladimir suggested that we go to Odessa instead, in southern Ukraine. I never thought that planning a trip could be so complicated. We thought about it, and played a round of spades. I left at 10:10PM, and got home at 11:20PM. The trams were crowded all the way home. I keep wondering what people are doing out this late? In London, public transport is hardly crowded past 7:00PM.

Wednesday, June 2

I was a little more tired today. It was cloudy and cool outside, and the tram was packed. I led prayer before class.

Nick read some Proverbs that I selected, and a lesson. Kira, brought me some bread, and asked if there were any particular differences between the four gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Lunch was a bit tired again. Chris talked about his desire to come live in Kiev for a year. Josh and Kevin announced that there would be a pizza party and "Spades" tournament tomorrow night at their flat.

Michael Savchenko did not come today. I think he may have skipped off to Hungary to find work. I threw a small Frisbee in the hall with Donnie, and read some of "Early Britain," about the Celts, Romans, and Anglo-Saxons, that I found in the bookcase.

Dimitry Kustov came to read, and told me about his business trip to L'vov, Monday. He went to select tea and coffee sets, with his boss, to sell in their shop. He also went fishing. And he brought me a present: a book about the L'vov Art Gallery, with pictures, that was very nice. This was a very generous gift from Dimitry.

Tonight, we had our reader’s theme party about "Disneyland." Yes, we actually wore mouse-ear hats, and sang the Mickey Mouse Club song! We also sang, "Supercalafragilistick-exbealadotious," and played some stupid balloon games.

The best part was the drawing of the door prizes, where almost everyone got a prize. We gave away little Frisbees, Mickey Mouse pencil sets, posters of Disney films, etc. All of which, the DLU group brought with them from Nashville.

And, to cap-off all the silly things that Donnie, Misty, and Amy had planned for the party, they had all the readers play the "Barnyard game," with pigs, cows, ducks and dogs, etc.!! (It was a bit too much like "Animal Farm" for me!) As usual, the Ukrainian's really got into it. I chuckled all the way home.

Thursday, June 3

My first reader today was Mike Lukashevich, at 10:00AM. He was sad because a student of his died, mysteriously, of heart failure at the Polytechnic on Tuesday. Mike had spoken to him only a couple hours before, about an exam, and the young man died on campus. His mother was at his side. How tragic. Mike was really saddened about this, understandably.

Nick was curious about Masters Degree programs in America. Lytvynov, has read the farthest of all my readers, reaching "The Final Days" section. He is a good fellow and very intelligent. Anatoly was tired and managed to read a couple of lessons. Ira came with her son again. She is very agreeable with the text. She told me that her sister lives in London, and attends university there.

Marina was all right, and read a couple lessons. She had several provoking thoughts, as usual. She read the story of the "Transfiguration," which was the third time today, for me, and I was getting pretty good at explaining it! Marina asked me about reincarnation and I told her what I think about it.

At the end of the day, the group, except for Donnie, went to Josh and Kevin's flat for homemade pizza. I and several others had not been to Josh & Kevin's before, so we had to go in two groups. Kevin guided my group, which made me feel anxious, because he can be a bit loud in public. He is an enthusiastic person all right, but I think he is too expressive and down right oblivious some times.

The flat was not far from Victory Square, but you had to take a #15 tram, and a #18 trolley bus to get there. It was a ground floor flat that was the biggest I have seen yet, I think--large rooms, a large cabinet system in the living room, and decorative carpets hanging on the walls, and a kitchen that's large enough to be a kitchen! Nice digs for Josh and Kevin; not far from school. No wonder they are always first in the mornings.

We pitched in to make pizza on baton bread. Pairings for the spades tournament became so competitive, that they had to be done a second time by drawing names from a hat. Boy, are they serious! I got Josh as my partner, and we lost both our matches--first against Robyn and Misty, and then against Mitch and Heather. Josh was nonplussed when he got me as a partner. Well, I can't help it if I'm not a spades champion. I made my bid most of the time...It was getting late and I wanted to leave. They continued playing, as Scott and I left at the same time. I reached home at 11:35PM. Another late night on the trams.

Friday, June 4

I overslept just a tad bit, but still arrived on time for "devo". Josh read some scriptures. Our trip plans have been placed in the hands of Kevin (not a comforting thought). He says he can get us plane tickets to the Crimea for $20.00, round trip, and all our sources say that going to Moscow is not going to work out. There are no weekend train tickets available. Bummer! Today is Robyn's birthday, and she is disappointed with the news. I figure, it will be a pity not to go to Moscow, but if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. We should at least go to Yalta, and make the best of it.

Vika came at 10:00AM, and was feeling tired and sick, but she made the effort to come, which means a lot. She read "The Right Kind of Love," from the Sermon on the Mount, and put up a few rebuffs, but generally accepted what the text said. She is a die-hard objectivist, but I think the Lord is making some headway with her heart.

Yury was talkative, after missing the early part of the week. He still wants to know how I "get on" in Kiev, and where I buy my milk and food, etc. He explained to me that "coupons" are actually "Karbovanuits," the proper name of their currency. He then went into a long discourse on the new computer stores in Kiev. This was tedious to me, but actually came in handy this afternoon with Neil Prokop. I'll explain later...

Kira was behaving silly today, but read a couple of lessons. She wants to invite me to her dacha outside of Kiev, but there is no way I am going to go along with that. Maybe I am totally off base here, but I'd swear she is dreaming of having a rendezvous with me.

At lunch the group was small because several had to do other things, but Neil Prokop joined us. We were outnumbered by a group of American tourists, all of which seemed to be above the age of fifty, which was the first time we saw a group like that in the Lybid. Tour groups are rare around here. They began conversing with Robyn and Heather, and even sang "Happy Birthday" to Robyn. One or two of them said they used to live in Tennessee.

After talking it over, Neil and I decided to go to the Folklore Museum tomorrow, but we're not sure how to get there. We spent a couple hours together walking down Kreshchatik looking at two computer stores: Texas Systems and Ajax. He was hunting for a particular brand of floppy disk for a friend in Ternopol. We met an American missionary, from Connecticut, who works with the church at school #53. He is a very quiet guy and I have never spoken to him until today. He must know a thing or two about computers for he seemed to be working in the store. There was a security man at the door who seemed to be there to check people's bags and keep undesirables out. He sort of waved us through each time with little formality.

Next, we went to peruse a few bookshops that I have wanted to see for weeks. A book called, "The Kiev of Mikail Bulgakov," caught my eye because I remember one of my readers talking about him. It had a lot of old photographs of Kiev from the 1890's to 1920's, so I bought it. Bulgakov was a writer, sort of contemporary with Frans Kafka. I found some posters of Shevchenko, the Ukrainian "Victor Hugo," that were only 15 coupons each. These bookshops were rather dark, and shabbily adorned; not stocked with many good books. Pretty slim pickings, I'm afraid to say.

Neil had an appointment to go meet someone, so I parted from him, and went to the cash store. No luck at the bread shop around the corner. It had a big queue, and I didn't have time to wait.

I went home, and tried to phone Kevin, but the phone has been out for two days. I want to find out if he got our tickets to Yalta? He has my passport, which is not a good feeling. Today was the warmest day for the last couple of weeks.

Saturday, June 5

First thing this morning, I went outside to a public phone booth and called Kevin and Josh's number. I got Josh, and asked him if the Yalta tickets were secured, and more importantly, my passport. He said that everything was fine, not to worry. Well, I felt better about that. At least I thought he said everything was fine. The noise around the phone made it hard to hear.

Today was sunny, the sky was blue, and the breeze kept it from being very hot. I went to meet Neil at the Lybid at 10:00AM. I waited, and waited for him till 10:30, and he came running along, breathless, just as I was about to give up. We had planned to go to the Folklore Museum, south of Kiev, near Pirogova. I haven't the slightest idea what I would have done if he hadn't shown up. The price of a taxi at the Lybid was 15,000 coupons to get there (about $5.00). Neil would not hear of it, so we rode the metro as far south as we could, and then Neil hailed a car, at a street corner, that was going that way. The driver was willing to take us for 4,000 c. His car was an old Lada, which ran poorly. He blamed it on the benzene (gas, or petrol). Neil made polite conversation with the driver in Ukrainian, and I watched the scenery go by. Hitchhiking is not unusual here, and Neil knew what he was doing.

The outdoor museum was in the country, and we reached there at 11:50AM. The driver was friendly, so I tipped him with some Wriggle's Gum. We paid a small admission charge and then proceeded to walk through the gates. The entire property is divided into areas representing different regions of the Ukraine. Covering about 11 kilometers of trail, it is dotted with rural farmhouses, barns, windmills, churches, cottages, and schools, etc. First, we encountered the "Dnieper" region, and looked into a wooden baroque church (most of the buildings, houses, etc., were wooden or stucco). To our surprise, there was a christening service taking place. The priest and his female assistant conducted the ceremony, with the parents, and godparents present. We listened a while, and moved on to admire the log houses with thatched roofs (nearly everything was thatched, too), and twine woven fences. Every house was decked out with displays of traditional furniture and clothing, and had a garden that was maintained daily by babushkas who worked there.

Neil and I had many a good conversation. I had to know if he felt any kind of special emotion for living in Ukraine, the home of his ancestors. He said that it was a very familiar culture for him, but that he didn't feel anything deeply spiritual about it. (Sometimes I think I feel very emotional about living in England, myself, but don't know quite how to explain it.) Since Neil lived in Germany for some time, we spoke about Germany, and our favorite places in Europe that we have been to. He knows his way around. I had a lot more questions for him than he had for me. His life seemed a lot more out-of-the-ordinary than mine. I almost had a hard time believing that he was a genuine missionary. He could be a bit overly pessimistic one moment, and then very optimistic the next. In the middle of a conversation he immediately decided to change from his trousers to a pair of shorts he brought, which seemed very uninhibited. I really admire his adaptability, and his gumption to live in Ternopol.

We saw a house that supposedly belonged to Tera Shevchenko's uncle, according to the babushka. And, we saw an old school house. Every village was quaint and natural looking as can be. The houses were being decorated with green grass and leaves scattered on the floors, because tomorrow is "Green Sunday" or Palm Sunday. Apparently, their Easter calendar is different from ours in the west. They expect a big crowd here tomorrow. Many more Ukrainians come on Green Sunday. Today however, we practically have the whole place to ourselves!

Next, we trekked over, past some windmills, to the "Podolia" region. A little old babushka beckoned us to come inside a house. She showed us two houses side-by-side, and posed for a picture with me. The houses are simple inside, yet so cozy, and livable. They all have a massive combination oven/fire place, with cabinets, tables, benches, a bed or two, and a samovar for making chai (tea). Houses usually have just one room, sometimes two. The subtle differences require careful viewing, and we always tried to remark about the hospitable nature of the tending babushkas.

Neil had a penchant for the "Carpathian" region, because he lives in the foothills of the Carpathians. This section was placed in a hilly area, which made sense, and enhanced the character of the buildings. The houses and barns felt well situated despite the fact that each structure was brought to this place and reconstructed as they would have looked originally. But at least a few of the buildings were merely props, without a finished interior.

Neil often spoke to the babushka caretakers in Ukrainian, and got some interesting responses. A few of the babushkas told us about the furniture, implements, and folkways, which made the visit very educational. Lucky for me, Neil was a good translator otherwise I would have been lost. No English signage anywhere. And no food; apart from some small snacks there was nothing to eat and I started to get hungry.

The "Polesye" and "Poltava" regions were rustic, and just slightly different from the others, as far as I could tell. We walked and walked till my feet were awfully sore. I took a lot of pictures, but wish I could have taken many more. The last region was considerably more modern than the rest. These houses resembled our Craftsman-style in America, and I figured I wouldn't mind living in one of these. It reflected the "socialist ideal" that they had been hoping to achieve--for all families to have a detached house, and more material comforts--but this was, sadly, an idealized dream. No such prosperity has been delivered to the masses.

Neil bought a straw hat from a souvenir stall to block the sun from his head. I probably should have done the same. It looked kind of silly on him though, and later a babushka told him that it was a hat meant for a single-lady to wear. We had a good laugh! Neil also bought a leather bag with a shoulder strap. He really labored over the decision whether or not to get it, because he is living on a tight budget, and because he didn't want to get something that looked feminine. I thought it looked practical enough for a man.

We finished our tour of the park, and felt sorry that so few people were there. It should be much, much more popular, and needs some promotion by a tourist organization. Maybe there just aren't enough tourists? The present transportation system to get here is inadequate. At closing time, only about 30-40 people were waiting for the bus, and that included employees of the museum. If anyone misses this bus, they are out of luck. Still, I have had a wonderful visit, and I wish the rest of my team could have been here today!

Neil and I wheeled all the way back on public transport; taking the #24 bus (just as my 1989 Collin's guide book instructed), and on the way, we passed the Museum of Economic Achievements. It was a monstrous set of dank yellow buildings, with big white pillars, and a tower, of sorts, topped with a red star symbol. I don't think I will be coming back to see it. We went as far as the bus would go and then took the Metro.

Coming up out of Kreshchatik Metro, Neil coaxed me to try a cheap restaurant for dinner that I had never been to. It was in a brick building, with a non-descript entrance, up a flight of stairs, and located in a long, wide, dimly-lit hall, with a high ceiling. One stands in a queue; pays for the meal, and then receives a plate of food, and a cup, and then sits at a table. All they served was beef and potatoes, with bread, and a cup of compote. It was quick, and about 1/3 the price of the Lybid--a real "everyman's cafe." I was hungry, and even drank the compote.

I was about to fall asleep in my chair, but Neil persuaded me to go to the Opera House, with him, to hear the All Men's Academic Bandura Chorus. I was very tired from the day's exercise, but Neil wouldn't let me pass this cultural event up. The chorus consisted of about 40 men, dressed in traditional Cossack dress. Their singing sounded very somber, and serious, playing their banduras, like they were singing a Gregorian chant. I could hardly stay awake, but managed to last till the intermission. Neil said that the first half was all serious stuff, and that the second half would be more "folksy" and entertaining. Well, I didn't want to miss the second half, but I was so completely worn-out that I HAD to leave. It's a pity that I wasn't in better physical condition to watch the show.

All I could think of was getting back to the flat as fast as I could. It was still about an hours ride home. You have to understand, just getting home on the metro and tram is tiring too. There is usually a lot of standing, waiting, and effort to get on, and then getting a seat is not easy. Usually one must stand and hold onto the railings or handgrips that hang down. It was all I could do to get home. I entered the flat and collapsed on the bed.

Sunday, June 6

Today was "Green Sunday." I did not see Andre at church, which was unusual. Tim Johnson spoke about Love from 1 Corinthians 13, and Arthur translated.

After church we waited for a hired bus to take us to a hospital, that the DLU group had brought medical supplies for, from Nashville. Susan Smith, the R/N, has arranged for us to visit the children's ward of a hospital in West Kiev. Lately, Susan has not been well, physically. She upset an old arm/shoulder injury that she got a few years ago living in Guatemala. She lifted too much weight, and tore something in her shoulder, and will have to fly to the States on Tuesday, to have emergency surgery in Miami, Florida. She lives a pretty precarious life.

The hospital was made of a white brick and tile material on the outside. We entered the ward and went from room to room meeting the children, giving them candy and stickers, and then sang some songs to a gathering of youngsters in the hall. The kids were excited, and listened enthusiastically to our rendition of "Old McDonald Had A Farm." We changed the words to: "Good Old Sasha Had A Dacha!" Everyone had a ball; much laughter and approval.

Many of the kids had broken limbs, or needed some kind of surgery. They were curious, and not a few could communicate in English. The doctors and staff were cooperative with us. Several of our group went into the intensive care unit to see premature babies, just to watch.

We went to the Lybid for lunch, later than usual. The meal took longer than usual to come, too. I told the group about my visit to the Folklore Museum with Neil yesterday. Some were surprised that we made it out there on our own. And some made it known that they think Neil is a bit too strange to them. I wasn't quite sure what to say, but I let it be known that it was a great museum; we had a wonderful time, and Neil is a pretty good guy in my book, even if he is a little bit eccentric. Then, Kevin told us the news about his pet back home in Colorado. He has a twenty-foot boa constrictor snake! I don't know if this is true, but he said that the snake ate his neighbors Chihuahua dog.

After lunch, it was already 4:45PM, and we had plans to go sing at Angela's flat. Angela is one of the young Ukrainian women at church who is a member, is single, and quite active. With us (about 12 Americans), and some of the young adults from church, we were crammed into the flat's living room. We had a great songfest, and worked on some of the songs that the Ukrainians wanted to learn, as Alex, the young Ukrainian, tried to record it on an ancient cassette player.

Later, to our surprise, Angela and her brother brought out food that they had prepared for us. They put a table in the middle of the room and laid out dish after dish of food! Some, we hadn't even seen before. There was plenty of commotion and setup involved. At least twenty of us sat around the table, elbow-to-elbow, and toasted, laughed, talked, and ate in joyful fellowship. This was one of the best nights we've had thus far!

For once I didn't have to go far to get home, because Angela's flat was near Borschagovka. PTL! I only had to go three stops on the tram, but I was real tired after all that singing, and eating.

Monday, June 7

Cloudy and cooler today. The phone is still out; since June 1st. I bet Nina had it turned off when she got the bill and found those international phone calls on it! I'm going to pay for them. I haven't had any contact with Nina since the day I first moved into this flat. You'd think she would come by once in a while. I used to get phone calls that sounded like they were for Nina, but I couldn't communicate well enough to know. One man, I remember, said "Nina, Nina, Nina," three times loudly, but all I could say was "da, da" ("yes, yes"), and he sounded as though I'd answered his question satisfactorily, and then said goodbye in Russian with an amused sounding tone in his voice. Maybe he though I was living with Nina? Who knows?

Devotional was led by Luke Shouse, today. Kevin had the strangest news to share. He was talking to his parents on the phone last night, and they said that his pet boa died! I don't know if any of this is to be believed...Scott said that he must have died from "bad Chihuahua."

Lytvynov told me about his research paper that he wrote for college, about "White Noise," a mathematical theory about minute particles. We also talked about the meaning of Green Sunday. Kira, wanted to know what I think about Australia.

After lunch, I went to the cash store and got a few items for the group. Donnie wanted some peanut oil, and Chris wanted a Newsweek magazine. I was successful at finding those items and bread!

Since my phone is out, I decided to write letters to Linda and my parents. I told them about the Yalta plans. Then, Ruslan came early for his appointment, so we talked, and read from 1 Samuel. I showed him my map of Eastern Europe, and he said that he has been to Estonia four times, and has taught himself Estonian. He even had an Estonian book in his pack, and read some for me. He plans to go to university there, and hopes to transfer, perhaps to the U.S. He has a gift for languages. His dream is to work as a translator for the United Nations. Looking at my map, once again, it occurred to me to ask Ruslan why Russia owned, or controlled the tiny enclave of Kaliningrad, on the Baltic? His response was, "Well, America has Alaska, and Hawaii, doesn't it?" I couldn't deny his logic, so I left it at that.

Ruslan seemed to be interested in my Webster's pocket dictionary, the one I have had since 1981 when I started college, and said that he could not find one as nice here. It was a handy little dictionary to me for a lot of years, but I decided to give it to him.

Mike Lukashevich came 25 minutes late, due to his busy schedule at the end of the semester at Polytechnic. I asked him about "White Noise," and he said that it is the slight reverberation of the eardrums. We also talked about mathematical combinations. He was more conversant and peppy than last week, after the death of that student.

Dimitry is becoming more fluent each time. He is going to Odessa in two weeks for holiday. He went to his dacha on Sunday, but did not do any work in the garden, because it was Green Sunday.

Going home on the tram was a switch! I got a seat for the first time in ages. At home, the electricity went off and on a few times this evening. It's really boring when the power goes off. There's practically nothing to do, and I can't even read, which, is a bummer. I don't go outside the flat because the lights are off in the halls and stairways, although I did see a very faint emergency light once, but I think it has gone out. About the only light I have is moonlight coming in through the window, after dusk, around 8:00PM.

Tuesday, June 8

Donnie led devotional today. Scott had a bad allergy, and Josh finally asked me to do the devotional this Thursday. Ira and Valerya came at 10:00AM. Ira told me about her husband's parents, how they are trying to immigrate to America from Uzbekistan. They have a daughter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Ira also has a sister-in-law in London. She told me about life in Uzbekistan, and that her, and Valerya are going there soon to visit her mother. Her father died several years ago. I must say, Valerya is a handsome and well-behaved young boy.

Olga did not come, so I showed my pictures to Natasha, a 17-year-old girl from church. During a free hour, I went for a walk around the block, and wandered through some interesting older housing estates made of brick. I came to a hill that had a long staircase, so I climbed to the top and found a flea market. There were people selling everything, from clothes, tools, old electronic transistors, art, and junk odds and ends. They will try to sell anything! I had to hurry back to school after a short time exploring.

Lunch at the Lybid turned into an impromptu photo session. Heather started it by asking me to take her picture sitting at a table. Then everybody got into the act and wanted a picture taken. It got a bit ridiculous.

Josh, who is always talking about his girlfriend back in Tennessee named Gena, said that she is flying to Zambia, Africa today. She is going there for some kind of job, and may be there a while.

Yury Zorin came after lunch, and we looked at my map of Eastern Europe for a while, and then he told me about the old socialist concept of "competition." Also, the program for socialist change to "real communism," that was expected to happen between 1970-1980. Their "forecasts" for communism were often revised because they were too far from reality.

Anatoly did well as usual. He is a fine fellow. Lena, Dima's wife, came late. She was difficult to talk to, but eager like Dima. She has a larger English vocabulary, but is hard to understand. She is a doctor in the field of gynecology.

Marina was in good spirits. I told her about my visit to the Folklore Museum, and she was very pleased that I went there. We read the lesson about the Good Samaritan. Then I showed her some pictures of England, which she enjoyed. She is finishing her graduation paper, or thesis, to be defended next Monday. It is about "U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle-East."

The tram was packed going home. The phone is still off, and not being able to call Linda is a major bummer. I am starting to long for London more and more. I'm not used to homesickness. I've never felt it before for America, but right now I really miss Linda and my home in London.

Wednesday, June 9

Chris gave a good devo talk about the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4. Nick and I talked about pollution, and the greenhouse effect, and emissions testing on cars. The Ukraine does not have many pollution controls. Kira, wanted to talk about Buddhism, and I told her what I think about it.

At lunch, Mitch told me that Linda had phoned Scott's last night to find out how I am doing. She has been trying to get me on the phone. I need to go to Scott's and phone her this evening by all means possible.

Ruslan was waiting for me when I got back to the schoolroom from lunch. We read 1 Samuel chapters 14-15. I talked to Jenya in the hall, briefly. Then, Lena came and we talked about our families for a while, and that led to my photos of England. She is easily excited, and curious about abroad.

While I waited for Dimitry to come at 6:00PM, I looked in the bookcase at all the little booklets about Eastern Europe. They are dusty, but interesting.

Tonight was our last theme party, and it was about the "1950's." This may not have been our biggest turnout, but I think everyone would agree that it was our best. You don't have to be a genius to figure out why! Everyone loves the 50's. We played 50's music, and taught them some dance steps. Robyn, Heather, Kristen, and Kevin did choreography to the 50's song "Lollypop." We had a bubble-blowing contest, and played the limbo. They really got into the games. Kristen won the limbo competition, despite some good efforts by the Ukrainian guys (she is a cheerleader, and quite limber). We dressed in 50's style jeans and t-shirts, and decorated the room with posters of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis.

By the time the party was over, I felt too tired to go to Scott's to phone Linda. I'll do that tomorrow night for sure. With a slightly heavy heart, I made my way home on the tram, slow-as-ever.

Thursday, June 10

I did the devotional talk this morning. I read Luke 18:28-30, and told them how much I appreciate them as a group; that I have learned a lot from them, and that I think the spiritual emphasis that they have maintained has been excellent. They are as good as any Lipscomb group I have worked with.

Mike Lukashevich came at 10:00AM, and we talked about the current conflict in Bosnia. I asked him about a Russian word I have read about: "blat," which refers to one's power, or influence. Yury Zorin came in and the three of us talked for a while. Neil Prokop, just happened to drop in, so I introduced him to Mike and Yury, and asked Neil to take a picture of Mike, Yury and myself. [Unfortunately the picture did not take properly. What a shame!] Mike then had to leave, so Yury, always the historian, wanted to tell me about the Soviet Presidents, from Khrushchev to Gorbachev. He also talked about the coup attempt in August of 1991, and how people felt about it in Kiev. This was especially interesting to me. I was in Prague, Czechoslovakia not long before that coup attempt.

At lunch I exchanged a twenty Deutschmark bill for 37,000 coupons (1,891 to 1) at the exchange desk. Lytvynov came at 3:00PM. He is my star reader, and the first one to finish the lesson book. Anatoly is one of the most appreciative readers. He read two lessons. He asked if there were other church groups, like us that were teaching English in Europe. I told him that there certainly were, and explained to him about "Let's Start Talking." [That is the name of the organization that started the idea, originally located at Oklahoma Christian University.]

Marina came at 6:00PM. She is almost finished with her thesis. She told me about the background of the conflict between the Russian Orthodox church and the Ukrainian Catholic (Uniat) church. She seemed to want me to know about it. I know that it's a long complicated story.

This evening, Mitch, Luke, Chris, Amy and I went to the Opera. I'm not sure what the title was, but it was about two brothers that were Cossacks. They were going to war, and their parents had mixed feelings about their leaving. It was somber. The music, sets, and singing were good, but we decided to leave after the first act. We couldn't understand enough of it to really appreciate it, and it was getting late, anyway. It was neat to sit in one of those little balcony boxes. The auditorium of the Opera house is very enchanting, even more so from that location.

Leaving the Opera, I went with Mitch to Scott's flat to phone Linda in London. It has been nearly two weeks since I spoke to her. She was getting worried about me. Mom and Dad phoned her last Sunday night to find out how I was doing. We talked about the Yalta plans and my return to London on the 18th. I apologized about the phone being out at my flat.

Going home, I went to Tolstoy Square and walked to the #1 tram stop, hoping to get a seat, but alas, the trams were packed even at this late hour. I was pretty tired when I reached home at about 11:00PM. Tomorrow is the long awaited trip to the Crimea!!

Friday, June 11

I woke up early, a bit jittery, because of our trip to Yalta. (BTW--Yalta is in the Crimea.) I bathed, and packed the clothes I'm taking into my backpack. This is the ordinary backpack that I carry all the time. (I didn't expect to be coming back to the flat before our flight this evening. But I did.) On the way out the building, I found a letter in my mail slot from Bill Tankersley! [This was the first mail I received in Kiev. I was surprised that anything coming from out of the country would make it to my building. I had written Bill a few weeks earlier. He was my original supervisor in London from 1986-88, and now resides in the U.S.] It took 16 days for the letter to arrive from Alabama.

Vika did not come today. Dima came and struggled through "The Devil Tests Jesus." Kira brought a flute for me. (I don't know why?) We finished the book, and had time to talk about my trip to Yalta. We finished up at Noon, which was our normal Friday schedule.

Most of us went to lunch at the Lybid, after which, I decided to go back to the flat for a few hours to wash some clothes and take a nap, because we did not have to meet to go to the airport until 6:00PM. Before long, it was time to head to Victory Square, and meet the group at the appointed place and time. We had to wait about 25 minutes extra for Tatyana, one of Kevin's readers, who is going with us to be a translator.

We rode the #9 trolley bus to the city airport, located in south Kiev (not Borispol). We had to wait in the lounge for a while, because there was a minor controversy over our tickets with the check-in people. They suspected right away that we had not paid the full amount--what foreigners are usually supposed to pay--and they were upset. But with some negotiating, and a phone call to our travel agent, things got sorted out. There was nothing I or the rest of the group could do to help intervene so we left it up to Chris, Scott and Tatyana to deal with.

As we boarded the plane, a mid-sized twin propeller engine, I met Vladimir Zubko, who was an engineer for Air Ukraine. He was eager to sit next to me and practice his English. We conversed for much of the two-hour flight, and it was a loud, warm, vibrating plane. All the flight attendant served were little cups of sulfur-tasting mineral water. Mr. Zubko, assured me that the plane was safe, and said that he has made the flight many times from Kiev to Simferopol airport, without a problem.

We landed at 10:00PM, as scheduled, and our tour guides, Vasily and John, were waiting. We were fortunate to have people waiting for us, because we met some tourists there who were stranded with no transport. We boarded a hired bus and rode from Simferopol to a hotel outside of Yalta in about two hours. The group was acting pretty crazy on the bus, and talking loudly, but we were the only people on the bus, besides the bus driver and two tour guides. I was quietly excited...It was unreal to believe that I was in the Crimea! I could see millions of stars in the sky. There were very few lights along the highway until we reached Yalta, and almost no traffic. There was tea, jam and bread waiting for us at the hotel lobby. We were very hungry, and surprised the staff would provide us with something to eat this late. When we divided up into rooms, Donnie and I got paired together and took the key for room #306. It was 1:00AM, and I was ready to sleep. The room was like an average-sized dorm-room, with two single beds, a porcelian washbasen on a dresser, and an attached bathroom with a sink, toilet and shower. Everything was clean and tidy. "Not bad," we agreed as we quickly drifted-off asleep.

Saturday, June 12

I awoke first, and when I peeled back the curtains, I discovered a balcony that I didn't even notice last night. When I looked beyond the balcony...I saw a beautiful sight: the Black Sea! It looked fantastically close and bright blue. Wow! Although, it must have been at least a five-minute walk away. I felt great until I turned on the shower and felt only cold, water. How, ummm, exhilarating. Aaarrrgg!!

After I got dressed, I discovered that my camera batteries were dead. Bummer! I only replaced them last week. After asking several people if they had any spare batteries, I was relieved to find that Kevin had a pack of "AA" batteries to share. Boy, Kevin's mouth sure gets on my nerves a lot of the time, but he is always prepared to help a fellow! I'll give him credit for that. It is doubtful that I could have found batteries to buy, as there are no convenient stores anywhere to be found!

What we are staying in is actually a Sanatorium, which is like a retirement home for old people, or people who need to get away for health reasons. But Sanatorium's also double as hotels in this part of the Crimea, and are more economical than regular hotels. Numerous families with children are here on holiday. The condition of this one is rather modern, neat and spartan; white exterior, with minimalist interiors. Breakfast was in a large cafeteria in a separate building at 9:00AM. For some reason, they put us in a smaller room in the back. I don't know if that is the normal practice for foreign tourists or not. Maybe they are giving us special service? I'm not sure, but we still had to walk through the general cafeteria--full of tables, chairs and a few people eating--to get to our dinning room. The food was not very tasty: just plain vareniki dumplings, dry bread, very dull-tasting juice and bad coffee, served by old ladies in babushka dress.

After breakfast, we boarded the bus for our first excursion of the day, to the Alupka Gardens, near the St. Peter Mountains, along the southern coast of the Crimea. They were splendid man-made gardens, but we were not too excited about an in-depth tour, so we requested that our guides speed things up a bit. Vasily looked slightly surprised, but agreed to move onto the fancy palace nearby.

Within walking distance was Vorontsov Palace, a neo-Gothic style palace with an exotic Arabian, or Indian Mughal style facade, which has been the destination of many visiting foreign dignitaries, as well as communist big-wigs. Built in the 1830's by an English-educated Russian aristocrat, Prince Mikhail Vorontsov, the palace was built by serf labor, and houses an impressive art collection, containing the cream of the art treasures from all the other royal and aristocratic stately homes along the coast. I bought a souvenir book about the Crimea for 9,000 coupons (about $3.00). The most notable historical fact about Vorontsov to westerner's, is that in 1945, Winston Churchill and the British delegation stayed here during the Yalta Conference. We did not go inside, but walked around the gardens in back and around to the recessed arch porch and steps in front. The front had the most distinguished Sultanatesque look to it that I have ever seen. Vasily showed us the lion statues flanking the steps; one asleep and the other sitting upright. He said that Churchill was fond of the sleeping lion, but I don't remember why. Then we walked down to the Black Sea.

We trekked down a path among boulders, rocks, sea front, and, trying not to bother a topless sunbather, looked back at Vorontsov Palace, and the mountains above it. They resemble the Italian Dolomites with dramatic, jagged, tooth-like peaks. We took a group picture, which took a while for everyone to hand their cameras to Vasily and John to take the pictures. I failed to get my camera out of my pocket and placed into the queue, which, upon reflection, was a mistake because we didn't make any more group pictures. [We didn't realize it at the time, but we were standing only a few miles away from where Mikhail & Raisa Gorbachev was held captive, at Foros Villa, during the failed 1991 coup d'etat attempt in Moscow.]

Next, we walked back up the slope to the village of Alupka. It was like walking into an old movie set for "Fiddler On the Roof." It was a village in decline, of mostly wood and stone structures, with tin roofs. There were shops, and people buying and selling wares, but we didn't see anything of particular interest. It was getting warm and we were parched with thirst, but could find nothing to drink anywhere. In fact, we went all day without finding anything recognizable for sale to drink. Basic provisions were not easy to find.

I spotted a Lenin statue in Alupka that I was compelled to photograph, as we walked back to the gardens where we started this morning. Some members of the group chose to go for short horse-back rides on a trail, and others sat on benches and talked. Not wanting to get too hot, I opted to sit and admire the scenery. As the Noon hour approached, Vasily called us all together to go to the bus so that we could return to the sanatorium for lunch. We had all been thirsty well before now, but we were not to be satisfied until lunch was served in our private, wood-paneled dinning room (the same one as breakfast this morning). The food was rather bland compared to what we were used to at the Lybid, with just a small bowl of borscht and vareniki. Most disappointing of all was that all they had to drink was compote. The service was handled very politely again, by the old women, but the food offerings were way below our expectations, to say the least.

After lunch we went for a thirty-minute bus ride to Livadia Palace. Livadia is perhaps the most famous attraction to westerner's in the Crimea, and I was looking forward to it with much anticipation. It was the site of the Yalta Conference in 1945, where Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met to draw-up post WWII Europe into spheres of interest. That Conference had a lot to answer for, no doubt! But to be fair to FDR and Churchill, they shouldn't be accused of surrendering half of Europe to Stalinism, since the Red Army was poised to take Berlin, and their own armies were still stalled on the Rhine. Much debate has ensued over the ramifications of the conference, but I believe Stalin was a greedy culprit and he out foxed his western counterparts, eventhough they were suspicious of him, but were too diplomatic and distracted by other pressing matters.

Livadia was built by Tsar Nicholas II, in a Mediterranean style, out of white stone. It is positioned near the coast, and has tropical-like, landscaped gardens. I expected a little more signage, or presentation when we got there, but I keep forgetting that we are not in western Europe, or America. They do not place a lot of importance on signs here. We had to cover the soles of our shoes with cloth coverings, so we would not scuffle the floors. A professional guide led us through the rooms speaking only in Russian, and our personal guides, Vasily and Tatyana translated it into English for us. I felt so overwhelmed by the significance of the place that I was rapt with attention to every word spoken and forgot to take very many pictures.

We saw the "White Room" where the conference table is still standing, with faded little flags on it; one for Britain, the USA, and Russia. The next room was the "Secret Room," where Roosevelt and Stalin met to discuss any further cooperation in the war against the Japanese. The third room was where Roosevelt slept. It had a special doorway rebuilt to accommodate his wheelchair. It is suspected that Roosevelt may have caught a cold here, which weakened his immune system, and led to his death just three months later. Like I said, this conference had a lot to answer for!

What I was most eager to see was just around the corner...The Italian Courtyard, where the three leaders were photographed together (like buddies) seated, for posterity. I was impressed with the preserved scene of the courtyard, but disappointed that you can only view it through a window! For reasons unbeknownst to me, one may not go inside the courtyard! "Why on earth not!?" I wondered. The tour was over in no time, and only covered a small portion of the palace. Last, there was a gift shop near the exit, and I was surprised that no reproduced pictures or postcards were on sale of the famous pose in the Italian courtyard. Only as we exited the palace and started to walk to the bus did a middle-aged man come hawking some postcards of the "Allied Leaders" in their famous pose for 500 coupons each. I gladly bought one, but I wish I had bought more.

Next, we went to the Swallows Nest. This neo-Gothic castle folly--a rich mans dacha--was built in 1911, and is the symbol of the southern Crimea. However, it is in dire need of restoration. It is perched along cliffs, overlooking the Black Sea, and looks like it could topple-over the edge, with just the right amount of force. The only public access is by a difficult hike over winding dirt paths, but it has a spectacular view, and gives you the feeling of being in a swallow’s nest. There is an access road that goes right to it, reserved for important motor vehicles. We walked all around it, and took pictures of one another, but could not go inside. It looked like it was being gutted for an extensive restoration project. Again, I could hardly believe that I was here! This was too good to be true. I'll bet a lot of communists leaders have been here on holiday! I tried to imagine myself standing beside Vyacheslav Molotov, or Leonid Brezhnev, and making small talk about the weather. Nearby, an ice cream vendor was prospering, as the afternoon temperature climbed well into the eighties. The ice cream, or "moroshna," in Russian, was about as delightful as can be, but melted quickly. The walk back to the bus was not a joyous amble, as it was quite bumpy, and my feet were starting to feel the fatigue of a French Foreign Legion soldier. A couple of hundred yards seemed like miles.

After all the activity we had today, we were ready to go back to the sanatorium. Most of the group went immediately down to the beach, on foot, but Donnie and I went to the room to rest. I was beat! We each took a nap, but got up later for dinner.

Dinner was not appealing. I can't say much good about Crimean sanatorium food, except that it was more bland vareniki dumplings, with just a few specks of fruit and vegetables. The only beverage was compote and tea. I went for a walk alone after dinner. I found it hard to go far in one direction because the sidewalks would end, and then only dirt paths. I couldn't believe the state of the area. Several buildings at this little resort were falling into disrepair, or were not finished in the first place. With only a few exceptions, apart from the Sanatorium, it was an unsightly place. With nowhere to go, I decided to press myself and venture down to the beach, to at least relieve my curiosity about it.

So I gingerly stepped down a set of long, declining, concrete steps that were so well trodden, they sank into the earth, to the beach. The beachfront was in a poor state. There were broken and cluttered structures strewn about the beach, made of wood and metal--like a forgotten amusement park--and there was nothing to do. There was no sand, just lots of pebbles. This place made the seaside towns of Southern England look immaculate by comparison! I'll appreciate Brighton, Eastborne, and Hastings a lot more from now on! The effort to come down here seemed almost like a waste of energy, but now I can say I've touched the Black Sea. Too bad I forgot my camera. Going back up the hill was tiring, as darkness began to fall, and the steps were obscured by overgrown weeds. The still, humid air made an eerie silence, which was disturbed by my heavy breathing as I made my way up to the top.

Back in the Sanatorium, I looked for my comrades, and found most of them congregated in Chris and Luke's room, playing spades. Some were on the balcony, or just sitting on the beds and floor chatting. I sat down to read, and write in my journal. I heard rumors that we were going to have to pay a supplement on our plane tickets, or that we might have to take the train back to Kiev, but this was all silly talk. Without thinking, I complained to all about my disgust with the state of the beach. Then I realized that Tatyana was on the balcony and could hear me, and I wished I had not spoken out of turn. I felt ashamed. Who was I to complain about the conditions of a scrap of beach, in a country with such serious problems and discomforts? I stayed there until about 9:45PM, and then retired to my room to go to sleep. Donnie was already asleep when I got there. I think I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Sunday, June 13

This morning's cold shower made my head feel numb. I was shivering! Only Scott, Donnie and I went to breakfast on time. We had more plain vareniki with only a sprinkle of sugar and butter. You'd think they were rationing the food, or something. It didn't seem right, but out of respect for the old ladies, we didn't complain. We had a good conversation, as a few more members of the group trickled in. Evidently, they were up late last night and didn't want to wake up! But I gather that one would have to be crazy not to make it to breakfast because there is so little opportunity to eat!

The plans were to check out of the sanatorium, and spend the morning in Yalta, itself, and then take the two-hour bus ride back to Simferopol, and fly to Kiev. Since it was Sunday, we sang devotional songs on the bus, as we were pressed for time, and not able to attend church. We had a glorious songfest as the miles slipped by. Vasily and John said they enjoyed our singing.

As it turns out, we only had about two hours to spend in Yalta! "How much of Yalta can one see in two lousy hours?" I protested, but to myself. There were so many things I wanted to see, but wouldn't have time. What a shame! I wanted to see the Chekhov House, where Chekhov wrote, and met Tolstoy and Gorky. And, I wanted to see Polyana Shazok--"the glade of fairy tales"--an open-air museum of bizarre fairy tale characters carved in tree trunks, but I didn't know where it was. I wanted, at the very minimum, to be directed by a knowledgeable and thoughtful guide, to something historical, and with some ability to comment on the sights, but no! The group mostly walked around the seafront, while Vasily and John disappeared somewhere, without so much as leaving us a map! I was very disappointed, but with so little time for contemplation, I felt the urge to head off and make the best of it, with whatever I could find.

Well, Donnie and I were determined to see what we could, so we spotted a church cupola in the distance and made for it! Walking briskly, we discovered it was the fine Byzantine Alexander Nevsky church. This basilica, reminiscent of St. Basil's in Moscow, was colorful, and met all my expectations. There was a service going on inside, and the place was packed--like a Kiev tram. It is interesting to note they were singing acappella style, like we do in the Church of Christ. This was such a marvelous sight, but we had to move on.

Next, we saw a cable chair lift in the distance, so we thought we would head that way and investigate where it went to. When we could see it better, we noticed that it went to the top of an acropolis-like hill, overlooking the city, and there was some sort of pillared structure up there. Well, as if by impulse, we were drawn to this cheap ride--without thinking, and without any discernable alternative that would have been more historically satisfying. The man operating the cable ride pulled the "switch-the-price-of-admission" trick on us as soon as he saw us coming, and surmised that we were suckers, or Americans'; I'm not sure which. The fare was supposed to be 300 coupons, but he quickly put up a sign that said "$1.00," and we paid it, like fools. This should have tipped us off, but we were like children wanting a carnival ride.

The aerial views were stunning, as we passed over streets and dilapidating tin roofs, plus the hazy mountains to the back of Yalta were admittedly arresting. However, this was the only good thing about the ride. At the top of this "acropolis," was the Yalta version of the Parthenon, but not surprisingly, it was never finished. It was a crude and impoverished attempt at another socialist vision that fell short of being completed, or some symbolically intended guesture to harken back to the Helenic Age when Greek culture flurished in the region. What a pile of crumbling concrete! Dejected, from the cable chair, we briefly looked around, shook our heads and laughed the whole thing off. There was no-one else in sight, so I looked for a place to take a pee, and then we rode back down the cable, which lasted a total of 15-minutes each way.

We walked through quiet back streets to a crowded square, where we could hear an occasional word in English, or something else besides Russian. Live Russian music was being performed near a Lenin statue, by an orchestra, and a big amplifier was resting on a truck, which broadcast the music. We walked through a flea market. It was hot and crowded now. I finally found some bottled Pepsi for sale, which was warm, but somewhat refreshing, because I was extremely thirsty!

I could have gone on wandering around Yalta for hours, but our time was nearly up, and we hadn't so much as seen one solitary museum. Oh well, they would have probably been closed on Sunday anyway. So, we sat on a vacant bench, and people-watched as our time ran out. The meeting place was on the seafront near a docked P&O cruise ship called, "Sea Princess." The group walked back to the bus together, and slowly departed Yalta, through the mountains back to Simferopol. I felt a tinge of guilt, as if the Yalta excursion should have been better than it was, but it is such a rarity for someone like me to even BE in this part of the world, so I thought I should count my blessings. The scenery was wonderful, and some of the mountains exceeded 5,000 feet. It reminded me of Sicily, somewhat. Most of the group was tired, and sleepy; except for Heather and Josh. I listened, as their conversation went on, and on, about summer plans, when they get home, and about numerous details concerning their fiances' personalities (they were engaged to different people). Their expressions were full of the dreams you have when planning to get married. I kept thinking, "this Crimean odyssey is almost over, too darn fast," and watched for interesting objects or sights along the way to fantasize about.

Back at Simferopol Airport, we had an hour-and-a-half to eat lunch and rest before the flight. There was no point in going outside, or wandering afar. Our guides, Vasily, and John, provided lunch, which consisted of raw vegetables, bread, cheese, and boiled eggs all placed in brown paper bags, which was nice of them. (Perhaps Vasily and John were preparing these lunches while we were in Yalta? I'm not sure.) We rode the escalators to an upstairs lounge to eat. At times like this, the group sometimes acts like a bunch of spoiled brats; all trying to be the center of attention. Like a "television to the world!" I stayed to the side, trying not to get in the way. There happened to be a little stray cat in the lounge, that was hungry, and they made a big to-do about it.

As we were about to say goodbye to Vasily and John, they wanted to know if we thought the Crimea was beautiful, or not? They have never been outside of the Soviet Union, and were curious to know what we thought. I tipped our bus driver with a Snickers bar.

We walked across the tarmac to a bus that took us to the plane. They allowed us to board the plane before the rest of the passengers--I don't know why. Maybe as a courtesy? When the plane eventually filled up, the cabin became quite warm. One woman passenger seemed a little bit huffy about our group being allowed to board first. This offended Tatyana and she gave the woman a good tongue lashing in Russian. The engine was loud, and I didn't feel like talking much, but the flight went fine. The scenery from Simferopol to Kiev was flat. When we landed in Kiev, we were allowed to exit right through a gate on the tarmac. No customs, which was a surprise. We took the #9 trolley bus to Victory Square, and, reluctantly, parted unto our separate ways. We weren't quite ready for this adventurous weekend to end, but there was nothing left for us to do except part company.

I must admit that being back in Kiev was a letdown after the unusual sights and diversions of the Crimea. I boarded a very crowded tram for Borschagovka. Despite the poor food, I felt like I had been pampered for the last 48 hours, getting chauffeured around on a hired bus, and now it was back to the sardine can.

At the flat I took a nice warm shower, for a change, and washed some clothes, including my smelly jacket that I have worn almost every day! I ate some leftover lunch that Heather gave me from her lunch bag. On TV there was a dubbed CNN report on "Violence In America." This did not interest me, so I read and relaxed for the remainder of the evening, with thoughts of Crimean mountains, seascapes, and swallows-nesting in my mind. And, dreamed about interesting places I wish we'd seen that are in my book about the Crimea that I now proudly placed on the humble living room table.

End of Part III.

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