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
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
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
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
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 , 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
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
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 . 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
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
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
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 ,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.