So I just got back from our crazy week long tour of Europe...here is the story though I'm going to have to do it in parts because it's a really long story.
It all began on Friday when I decided that Я люблю семью Жданов! Меgan brought over her gift for the baby, a hat for the baby and a hat for Styopa she had crocheted. We played with Styopa, he was being his adorable self. Then we went to the пошта where the lady was actually helpful. Then we went to school. I made towers, DI style with spaghetti and cups and toothpicks with the kids. I played Who am I with Maintenance and they thought it was pretty funny. I got to trot out all of my Russian pop culture knowledge as I made up the names. Misha was Вини Пух, Vanya was Чебурашка, Liza was Ранетки, and Valera was Taylor (their other teacher). When we went home, Vanya annouced with glee that it was каникули! (Vacation). So he and Sasha were all excited we discussed baby names, looked at a magazine, translated a book of sayingings and had Styopa wet his pants and sit on me like 4 times. It came time for dinner and we didn't have anything to eat because Volodya is in charge of buying food so Natasha won't have to and the man only eats apples and peanuts so he's not the best at shopping. So we found a bag of a couple frozen plemeni and all got an apple. We were still starving when we finished so I got out my crackers from school and we had a snack as we watched Jane Eyre in Russian. I fell asleep in the middle because it was such hard work to listen to the Russian. It really was a great night. I was kind of really sad that I would be leaving the next day.
So the next day I got up and packed and played with Styopa. We made up two new games Кастор (fire, but it sounds much more menacing in Russian). First we had to use a two man saw of hands to saw the wood and then we had to chop it and then built the fire and lit it, blew it, and then we cooked the shashlik. The other game was What animal am I? Styopa or I would name an animal and I would pretend to be a лошадь, лягушка, слонь or белка. I was impressed at my own knowledge of animals in Russian...all thanks to Styopa I think. So then we had breakfast, oladi made of everything but flour because we didn't have any...I'm not sure Volodya doing the shopping is making anything easier. So then I played with Styopa and then I had to go. I got up to go and Natasha called everyone together. Vanya said, "Sit down!" So I sat kind of awkwardly in the entry way. I tried to ask, "What are we...?" but only got the response, "DON'T TALK." (It's a Ukrainian tradition to have a moment of silence before a journey.) After that I left and went to the Фора for supplies and then I went and met Megan. It didn't feel real. We lugged our чемоданы в вокзал на метро. It was not fun. And we got there really early but we met up with Amanda and Audrey so we all went to McDonald's for some last warm food and a bathroom. Then they gave us out our ticket in groups. Megan and I were supposed to be together. But when we got on the train, not only were none of the groups actually together but one girl was by herself in a room of random Ukrainians. She was freaked and wanted to be with her friends in my cabin so I agreed to switch...and those who are kind and charitable like me are blessed, that train ride was one of my favorite things on the trip. The lady on the bed across from me helped me put my coat and stuff away and then asked where I was going. I said Hungary she got confused but we finally figured it out. Then she asked, "Ты студентка?" (are you a student?)
I answered, "Да, но сейчас я преподаватель англиского языка." (yes, but right now I'm an English teacher).
She said, "Oh, you speak very well in Russian!" It really doesn't take a lot to impress these people. She started talking to me like I really knew Russian. It turned out she was really Ukrainian and said I should be studying Ukrainian because it's prettier. I tried to explain it was hard to find a teacher. She said, "I will teach you." So randomly through the trip, she would tell me Ukrainian words and make me repeat. I took a short break from Valentina and went and played Up the River Down the River with Taylor, Megan, Amanda, Cassidy and Megan. I won by a hair. Then I talked to some people. Then I went back to my room. Valentina and I talked about everything, Ukraine, my family, her family, the Carpathian mountains, children, icons, religion, the Book of Mormon, how I needed to get a boyfriend that was older than me and taller, how I didn't look American, really everything. Half of it was going over my head too. Then she got out dinner and told me to eat. I got to try chicken on bread, pickles, eggs, and kielbasa all from her dacha. It was awesome but I couldn't eat fast enough to please her. It was really awesome. Then she sent me to get tea and I didn't know where to go. I asked the coordinator and she got all confused about how I knew I supposed to get tea and what I was doing talking to a Ukrainian lady. She didn't know I could speak Russian. Then I went to the bathroom which was creepy and nasty. Then Valentina was asleep so I hung out with the obnoxious Americans. Finally I went back to my room and all the Ukrainians were asleep. I went to sleep too.
In the middle of the night, the train stopped suddenly and a water bottle fell on my face and I got a royal bump. Everyone woke up. Valentina made me watch the Carpathian mountains out the window. I went to the bathroom and came back and saw Megan and was headed to talk to her and I heard from my room, "Елена! Идий суда!" (Elyena (my Russian name) Come here!) I swear Russians love to boss me around. She showed me some classic Slavic houses. Then she started singing in Ukrainian. It was unreal. Just as I was falling asleep the lady in the top bunk started sleep talking in Ukrainian, weird. Oh, yeah I forgot to mention that they were all sleeping in their underwear...it was quite an experience.
The next morning, we woke up. Valentina gave me some pumpkin seeds which I could not manage gracefully so I would just eat them whole when she wasn't looking. But I had to crack some of them because everyonce in a while she'd hold out the trash bag to me for the shells. Finally we got to Чоп and got on the bus. We drove the boarder of Ukraine and Hungary where we waited forever and Taylor (our token male on the trip) found out his Ukrainian roommates were smugglers as we saw the boarder control tear the seats out of their car and 100 packs of cigarettes fell out. To be continued.