Monday, August 8, 2011


Morning with Slava: Anya and I woke up at 8 a.m. to get ready and clean everything up before her co-workers got to the office at 9:30 a.m. While Anya took a shower, I deflated the mattress and folded up the sheets. Then I took a shower and we got dressed for the day. I left at about 9 a.m. and took off for Slava and the Osokorki metro stop. Slava and I planned to head to Losynivka, the village where my host family lives (Slava is Oksana's cousin). On the walk from the metro stop to Slava's house, I ran into Alla, who happened to live a few buildings away from Slava. As big as Kiev is, it was pretty crazy to run into her. She asked when I was leaving for the village. I said it depended on the train schedule. She said she had errands to run and would call me later.

I met Slava and we checked the train schedule. A train was leaving at almost 4 p.m. – the only one that didn't stop at every stop – so we walked to a grocery store because I wanted Nemyriv vodka and chocolate to bring home.  

Alla's apartment: Alla called at about 1 p.m. and wondered if I wanted to stop by to visit with her. I walked over to her apartment for tea. It's just like she described. She had said she had an apartment in a good area, but she only has one bed and no furniture. True. She doesn't even have wallpaper or paint on the walls. She has a refrigerator in the kitchen and a bed in another room on a cement floor. She also has a hot pad and tea kettle for cooking. We talked, her in slow Russian and me in bad Ukrainian, for a half hour. We reminisced about America and good times together.

Losynivka: I went back to Slava's and we got ready to leave for the train station. We took a bus to the station and caught a train to Nyzhin. After we had bought our tickets and were waiting, Oksana called, upset we were coming so late. When we told her the only train we had found was at 3:50 and that we would arrive at 5:30 p.m., she said the next bus to Losynivka would be at 7 p.m. She suggested we sell the tickets and buy the long train ride (called a simple elektrichka) so that we would arrive at 7 p.m. because they're cheaper. "No way," I said. "I'd rather wait 2 hours then take the simple train. But we won’t even do that, we’ll take a taxi." I had calculated it and a taxi from Nyzhin to Losynivka was about $6 (50 hryven –  Ukrainian money). Since I wasn't on a Peace Corps salary of $2,500 a year anymore, I could afford a $6 taxi ride. Oksana called again while we were on the train to say that there was a bus that would leave at 6:10 p.m. from the bus station to Losynivka. When we arrived in Nyzhin, we set off to investigate this. The ticket sellers at the bus station said there was nothing until 7 p.m. "We’re not waiting," I said. "We’re taking a taxi."

We trekked back to the train station, hauling my bags, and walked along the taxis looking for someone who would take us for under 85 hryven. Because it turned out that prices had gone up since I’d last been there. It used to be common to go for 50. But now the drivers had other ideas. Finally we found a driver who would take us for 60 UAH. We took it.

I had a big grin as we drove to Los. "Why are you so happy?" Slava asked. "I’m going to Losynivka," I said. I have so many memories of taking the trip to this little village.

And finally I was home. Everyone was waiting for us. I hugged Svyeta, Vova, Holya, Kolya and Oksana. Oh, and let’s not forget Yaroslav (Yarik). Yaroslav’s name is the male version of Slava’s (Yaroslava). Yarik is an adorable little six-month old Oshkosh baby because he’s wearing all the clothes I sent Svyeta in February. He smiles and stares and bounces and I love him. I talked to him in English and Svyeta said he stares at me because he doesn't understand English.  We ate pizza, potatoes and meatballs for dinner. Grandma Holya asked me everything about America, about my family. "And your sister?" she asked. "Does she have…?" "No children," I said before she could finish. "Doesn't she want?" "Yes, she wants. Maybe soon," I said. "And do you have…?" "No, I don't have a boyfriend," I sighed. I need to get a darn boyfriend and Danielle needs to have a darn baby so I have something to report. She also asked about Johanna. You need a boyfriend, too, Johanna, so I can stop disappointing these people.

Also, one of the first things I asked Oksana was whether or not she had a visa. She called the travel agency and they said they would know if her visa was approved Thursday after 5 p.m. So that was when we would find out if we'd get to take our European trip together. Oksana showed me the schedule. We'll go to Lviv first; then Budapest, Hungary; Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic and a couple of cities in Germany.

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