56 days away from the best Christmas Break ever 🙂 But who’s counting?
It’s been a fairly anecdote-free few weeks so this will be a post for the visual learners. PC volunteers spend a sizable percentage of their time in transit & I just happened to find an informative little video detailing my personal favorite means of transport. Enjoy:
Delightful, huh? Now please keep in mind that each lovely train experience is enjoyed for a minimum of 4, maximum of 18 hours per trip. While I have no idea what program that was recorded from &/or the context I must say it was pretty accurate especially
- How hard the studio audience was laughing. TV cracks Ukrainians up.
- The use of the ever popular phrase ‘Come to me, baby’. If you know nothing else about English, you know that tacking on ‘baby’ instantly renders the phrase romantic.
- The amount of fragrant food that everyone hauls with them because carrying bulky suitcases isn’t enough fun already.
- The smelly feet that can & do descend at any moment from the top bunk.
Really, the only thing inaccurate was the amount of English being spoken- highly gratuitous. I actually kind of love train rides though because as long as I make it to the right car & throw my bag on in time I’m pretty confident that I’ll make it to my end destination & usually on time. Plus, barring placement in the unfortunate upper bunk, I can have a solid few hours to read, listen to music, knit & watch the landscape rolling by pretty comfortably. AND those cool looking chalices are readily available & filled with instant coffee for just 3 hyrvnia (50 cents).
I had the pleasure of taking a train to Emily’s last weekend where I left my town after school at 4, arrived in Volochysk at 12:30 & was greeted with a taxi that Em had called to pick me up from the station & bring me directly to the discotheque. I think the weirdest part was that I wasn’t even phased. It was a wonderful weekend though reminding me of how much I love my PC friends, hot showers with water pressure & her town with a tanning bed one block away. All sorts of red flags were flying, but I couldn’t help but use it twice just for the sake of feeling warm again.
I’m not sure how this is possible as a native Chicagoan, but I seem to have forgotten what cold feels like & the past few weeks have been a cruel reminder. There are, however, benefits as I no longer have to worry about what to wear to school since in the absence of indoor heating I teach bundled up in a coat, scarf & gloves leaving only the bottom foot of my pants & shoes visible. There was also a bit of a head scratching moment when in my daily phone conversations with my Morozivka friends we all noticed that the leaves had fallen literally overnight on the same day last week despite living in towns all over the country. Initially the only viable explanation seemed a secret national holiday in which people assembled outside at midnight & violently shook every tree until morning. Sadly, frost was to blame instead. I’m guessing that luckily between my warm socks, long underwear, & refusal to care what people think of my wearing a sweatshirt every day after school, I’ll be just fine.
I’m hibernating this weekend as it’s cold & rainy & taking the opportunity to clean, read, make Christmas presents, & try to understand the current economic crisis thanks to NPR podcasts. I’m also looking forward to a short week because on Wednesday we’ll have a Halloween Party at English Club after school & then at 8pm I’ll get to witness another reenactment of that video while I ride to Kyiv for 3 days of meetings for grant reviews followed by a week of fall break 🙂 We’re trying to arrange another Morozivka reunion for a few days & then all of us will hopefully try to spend the rest of the week relaxing together at someone’s site.
For the token culinary comment- I found peanut butter at my little grocery store today! I think it’s the only Ukrainian brand out there & it’s usually only in a few big city stores that are literally hours away. I thought I had seen it in Yampil one time last December next to the Nutella & have since made it a habit to check the refrigerated section each & every time to no avail. Imagine my delight then today when the double take proved that the wonderful jar was no mirage. The employees made the mistake of asking me about it bc it was a little on the expensive side & I flat out gushed about its many winning qualities in hopes that the news will get back to whoever does the ordering. They asked me what it tasted like & I was only sorry that I didn’t know the Ukrainian word for ‘freedom’.
That’s all the news around here. I hope you’re enjoying a slightly more gradual change of seasons & I can’t wait to see you soon, soon, soon (that might have to be a standard closing for the next 8 weeks).