Another week, another trip to київ 🙂 This one’s strictly business (and by business I mean finishing downloading Christmas music & workout videos & finding stickers for my keyboard so I can type in Ukrainian) but it’s appreciated nonetheless & gives me the opportunity to share with you all what an idiot I am.
Story time; last week we got caught up in the pure bliss of being connected with the rest of the world & realized too late that we missed the last маршрутка (marshrutka) (like a bus but with only 10-15 passengers) from the city to our little village. We moved on to plan B which was to take the електричка (electrychka) (super crowded commuter train system) home. We’d only been on it once before and that was with our native-speaking families but we thought we could manage. Nothing was marked at the station so we were already pretty proud of ourselves when we managed to buy a ticket to our village. We took our tickets to a man in uniform (albeit blue camouflage uniform) and mustered up enough Ukrainian to ask “This track, next train to Morozivka?” and he said yes so we boarded the next train that arrived even though it was 10 minutes early. An hour or so into the trip the woman came to check our tickets and I asked how many more stops there were until ours since they don’t make any announcements and none of the stations had signs. She said ‘немає (Hemayeh)’ which means ‘there is none’.
The events after this moment were a frenzied blur. Our friend Thomas’ jaw dropped to the ground which made Emily & I dissolve in hysterical laughter (confusing all of the other passengers with our inapprope response) and all of a sudden the whole train car was on a mission to get us home. We had our technical trainer on speed-dial and gave the phone to the man sitting next to us and before we knew it we were being whisked off the train an onto a station in the middle of nowhere with a man who sells corn puffs on the train. 10 minutes later we were on another train & were told that we would have 7 minutes at the next stop to run the entire length of the train, down a small staircase, past the woman selling tickets and onto the fourth platform. It felt straight out of mission impossible & we managed to stop cracking up long enough to haul it to the platform in 5 minutes flat; just to find that the train had already left. At this point our host families are calling nonstop & Thomas, in an act of desperation & confusion, went up to a stranger, thrust out his cellphone and said “можна” (roughly may I) hoping that she would speak to his mom & calm her down. Needless to say, she didn’t quite understand the request & scooted a little farther away. It was a mess & ended with a 45 minute taxi cab ride home with a driver who was told by our Ukrainian lifeline that the US government would be watching his car & he had better have us back by midnight. It should have been terrifying but it was mostly hysterical & made us realize how lucky we are to have each other & the myriad of resources provided though the Peace Corps. Sometimes it seems that we’re kept on a tight leash but I can’t imagine what I would have done without their support. I think I’d probably still be on the platform in bumble with the corn-puffs man. Yikes. Our families surprisingly don’t think we’re complete idiots because they let us go back again today but we’ll definitely be catching that маршрутка (marshrutka).
Speaking of looking like idiots, along with our language learning extravaganza we’ve been putting together a PC presentation/talent show for the community & the principal said that he was hoping that we’d be able to perform as well. Not to disappoint, we’re now rehearsing a traditional Ukrainian song in full costume as well as Thriller. I’m already mortified and made sure to learn the word for ’embarrassed’ but everyone we’ve talked to loves the idea & it prompted our 6’4″ language teacher to demonstrate the ever popular ‘goose step’ which requires a whole lot of squatting & squirming around on the floor…yet another Borat moment at its finest.
We had our last real language class today & the rest of our time will be spent reviewing for the language proficiency test on Thursday. It’s really crazy how time flies, but we’re trying to make the most of our remaining days with our families and each other. I went to the city with my HM last Sunday to a beautiful church district & then the zoo (I’m so 5 years old) where we fed pastries to the zebras…standard protocol, right? Apparently animals eat anything here as evidenced by our little puppy who eats borsch most nights. Another universal is the hilarity that results from dressing up animals as illustrated when little дружок (Droojhoke) was dressed up in a dress and doll hat while I was playing outside with my sister. That kind of thing seems to transcend language barriers.
Nothing else too interesting here. I’m taking the plunge and getting a Ukrainian haircut tomorrow & then Sunday I’m going with the host sister & 4 of her friends to tour the town like a 16 year old & see a play. It’s just about time for the the mad dash to the metro. Пока for now 🙂