Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Hello from Kiev!!!!!  Here are the events of the last incredible week...there really hasn't been a normal week here yet.  Wednesday, I was supposed to go to Lavra to paint with Megan and Cassidy but Megan, and almost all the other teachers got food poisoning from the chicken at lunch so she wasn't able to go.  We went though and it was really fun, thought Lavra wasn't designed for painting because there were no benches with good views.  But it was still fun.  Then I made gingerbread with my classes.  I baked it with Maintenance and realized I was in trouble.  I did some quick math and realized the dough I had made was going to make somewhere near 250 cookies.  That's a whole lot of gingerbread, especially for Russians who don't really like ginger.  I went home and played мяч with Styopa until the мяч rolled under the piano.  
Thursday, I woke up to Styopa running in yelling "Наннин!!!  кушайте!".  Apparently, he was supposed to eat but when his mom called him he decided it was time for me to eat too.  Megan and I went back to Souvenir Street.  The prices have already shot up.  I was getting really depressed because I didn't think I'd be able to get myself a doll because it's already like 150gr ($20) for a really badly painted mass produced one.  But as we were on our way back I saw some that looked really good so I decided to stop and ask how much they were expecting to hear like $300.  But they were actually reasonably priced just like they had been earlier in the season.  I soon realized I was back in one of Eugene's shops even though it was actually Anatolli that helped me this time.  He really does have the best deals and the most artistic stuff.  I had a hard time choosing because they had real fairy tales on dolls where as the other people just have like pretty standard pictures that could go in any fairy tale.  They had the Frog Tsarevna, the Firebird, Tsar Sultan, all the classics.  I got a doll with Yemelia and the Pike on it because it's Styopa's favorite and Natasha tells it to him all the time when he is eating.  And the picture of Yemelia looks a bit like Styopa because he's walking funny.  It's beautiful and I love it.  Right as we were about to leave we saw Eugene so I asked him about plain dolls I could paint.  He said he could sell me one so I got it.  I am kind of thinking I might order more from him because I'd really like to do a couple.  I was thinking because they come in 5 pieces maybe I'll do one of me, Sasha, Vanya, Styopa, and Mattvei though Megan says I should wait and see if we can find a 7 piece one and do her and Misha too.  I'd also like to do a traditional one.  And one of the story of my adventures in Ukraine though for that I might need a 100 piece doll.  Then we went to the school and cleaned.  We got an amazing picture of me when I found these magnifying glasses and then found the head to a giraffe puppet one of the kids had hacked off.  We made a gazzilion gingerbread cookies.  We gave some to everyone.  I was really happy because we gave some to my friend the cleaning lady.  I don't know if she liked them but she was tickled that we gave them to her.  That night, my family was going crazy.  Volodya came in holding Mattvei like a butchered chicken by his feet.  Then he would flip Mattvei over and say, "Daddy is your best friend, isn't he?  Isn't he?  Yes, Daddy is your best friend."  Mattvei would just look at him with this pained expression on his face and Volodya would laugh.  It was pretty funny.  Then Sasha started telling jokes and translating them into English.  So then I told a joke and she translated it into Russian.  Everyone laughed.  Then Styopa was done eating so Volodya got him out of his highchair and was swinging him by his ears.  Natasha who was already mad that he'd been swinging Mattvei around started telling him off and said, "How would you like it if I did that to you?"  Volodya said, "I think it'd be fun."   So Natasha stood up on a stool and tried to lift Volodya off the ground by his ears.  Gosh I wish I'd had a camera.  
The next day, Megan and I went to Baban Yar, where the Natzis killed people, mostly Jews, but of course some other people, communists, gypsys, even the Kiev football team because they refused to lose to the Germans.  There was a giant Soviet monument that was really ugly in classic Soviet realist style.  But I have learned since coming here that often that style is really appropriate.  This was one of those times.  In the museum of the Great Patriotic War, they had some clips of Baban Yar and it was inhuman what was done there.  Megan and I wandered through the park until we found the actual ravine where they buried the bodies and it is really sad.  It is all full of trash either because the Ukrainians don't care or because they purposefully want to forget.  We both immediately thought that it's too bad that we couldn't make that an eagle project to clean it up.  It was a very somber experience, but really neat.  After that we went to school, made more gingerbread.  I made postcards for my family with Maintenance.  The kids were actually all really into it.  They also were really amused that I lived on Sugar Hollow and all asked why it was called that.  I told them, "Okay, you have to pay attention because this is a funny story.  Not now, but a long time ago, people used to bring in lots of sugar to the place where we lived because they were making moonshine."  Of course that confused them so when they asked "What moonshine?"  I said, "Vodka."  They all laughed and laughed and said, "You make vodka?"  I said, "No, they used too.  Now we make apple juice."  They just kept giggling and saying, "Vodka...hahahaha."  Megan and I tried to go to this play put on my the Ukrainian ward that meeting in our church building but we got lost and got there way too late so we just hung out in the institute until we got kicked out.  So then we headed to the train station and waited in McDonalds and used the bathroom.  Finally, we met up with Amanda and Audrey.  We were talking to them about all the food we'd brought and I said, "We brought bread and cheese and nutella and peanut butter and cookies and chocolate and monkeys...wait did I just say monkeys?"  They said yes and I couldn't remember what I had meant.  We laughed really hard.  Finally I remembered that it was supposed to be gingerbread cookies, I don't know why monkeys came out.  At 10:30 we got on our train to discover we were in the same car as a Ukrainian school excursion and they were all planning to get really drunk.  When they pulled out the vodka we knew we weren't going to get any sleep.  
But never the less I think the train is the best way to travel because I did sleep a little and I woke up in Odessa.  Audrey also woke up to a suprise, she was sleeping next to a drunk Ukrainian apparently they had been talking and the conductor had yelled at them so they had lay down and kept talking and had fallen asleep.  We gave her no peace about that the whole weekend.  We went to our hotel and dropped off our stuff.  Then we went to Top Sandwich for lunch.  I got a Shvarma with cheese that was delicious.  Then we went down to the pier and saw the giant golden baby and this cute little church.  Then we walked back up to got to the Archeological Museum.  We saw lots of cool Greek and Scythian stuff.  There was a whole room of gold coins and jewelry that was way cool.  I was totally geeking out over it but I think the other girls were kind of bored.  They were amused when I make this squeaking noise when I saw this one Greek face with pointy ears.  After that we went to a park and fed pigeons gingerbread crumbs.  Then we were exhausted so we went to the church to watch Conference.  I think I made it through two talks and then I was out.  I woke up at the intermediate hymn and decided I was not going to fall asleep again, but before the first talk was over I was out and very embaressingly snoring I am told.  After that we met up with the boys for dinner at Fat Moses.  Then we went back to hotel to discover our rooms were totally ghetto.  The shower was not enclosed by anything it flooded the whole bathroom and the water smelled like rotten eggs but since I had not had a shower in almost a week (remember we have had no hot water) I took one anyways.  I'm really hoping not to get some dreadful fungus!  We watched Lord of the Rings 3 in Russian because it was on.  Then the boys got back from going out clubbing with some girls they had met on the train.  They had been really into the girls until they lit up their cigarettes and then they totally lost interest so they totally ditched the girls and came back to the hotel to tell us the tale.  I lay down next to Audrey and whispered Russian in her ear so she wouldn't miss Dennis too much.  It was a really fun day.  
The next day though was even better.  I woke up all chipper and ready to go but everyone one else was still asleep.  I had a great time annoying them with my sunny attitude as they stumbled into the bathroom when they finally got up.  I also got to feed more gingerbread crumbs to the pigeons on our balcony.  We had a lot of gingerbread!  When everyone was finally ready, we all headed down to the beach.  We found this cool little cave thing that was labeled вход in graffitti so we went exploring and discovered it was an entrance to the catacombs that go all under Odessa.  We explored a little ways all holding on to eachother in a chain because only Cees had a flashlight.  It was way creepy but awesome.  Then we went back and walked down to the beach.  I rolled up my pants and took off my shoes and went for a wade in the Black Sea so that I could say I did it.  Everyone else is going to wait for Crimea when it isn't quite so cold.  It was quite an experience wading in my coat.  We walked all the way down to Arcadia, the big beach.  Because it's still so cold, there wasn't really anything going on but you could tell that in the summer it will be hoping.  We caught the tram back to the train station where we were going to catch a marshuka to the catacombs.  We were all walking single file through the market and when we got to the bus it turned out Cees and Hazhir were gone.  When they finally caught up with us they said they had almost been arrested because Cees only had a copy of his passport.  Fortunately the cops were actually really nice and let him go after searching him.  Cees is finding that his pledge not to cut his hair in Ukraine is getting him into all sorts of trouble because he totally looks like a homeless weed smoker.  So we finally got on the bus and I started to freak because I was the one leading this exhibition and I was starting to think maybe my guidebook was wrong and we were on the wrong bus or maybe I'd miss the stop.  I was way stressed out and kept looking out the window so much that my face got sunburned on one side.  But everything went perfectly.  I saw the big statue and we all got off.  We saw our friends from the train as they were leaving.  Audrey got called, "My love" and Cees and Taylor got glares from the Ukrainian chicks they had ditched.  We went into the museum and were trying to figure out where we were supposed to pay and get the guide and whatever when we saw a door going down.  No one was anywhere around so we just headed down.  It lead down a bunch of steps into the catacombs.  This part (several miles north of the original place we went in) was the headquarters of the resistance movement in Odesa when it was under Romanian control in WWII.  Because the partizans could so effectively use these catacombs, the Germans had to send a lot of extra troops to the area to maintain some kind of control.  There were lights in this part and old Soviet stuff and models of how the people had lived down there.  We didn't know if we were supposed to be there or what we were supposed to do so we just explored around and had a great time.  We never saw another living soul.  We left and went to the bathroom at this cafe.  I was just about to go in when my family called so I stayed outside with everyone's stuff and apparently missed out on some local flavor when the guys inside offered to buy everyone in our group a drink.  We got back on the marshuka and rode back to Odesa.  Amanda and I wandered the market which was huge!!!  I got some fresh squeezed pomagranite juice from this guy that looked like Tevya.  It was way way good.  We went to the train station where I paid to use a squat toilet (extra for toilet paper) with sketchy stuff on the floor.  It was quite an experience.  We were really tired so we went over to the park to sit down and enjoy some cookies and crackers.  Then we got back on the train.  This time it was a really chill train full of old people so we were the ones getting yelled at to go to bed.  
The next morning, we woke up really early back in Kiev!  Sleeper trains are totally the best mode of transportation ever.  I wish I could do a sleeper train trip with the Schill family because it would totally replace car trips as the way to travel.  Because while it is really fun it has plenty of misery built in...like the toilets that are forever out of paper and the water that you can't drink.  Anyways, I went home and met Vanya in the elevator on his way to school.  Then I met Volodya in the entry.  He asked how my trip was and said he was on his way to Kharkiv.  Then I put my stuff down.  Styopa caught a glimpse of me  from his highchair and yelled "Nannininn!  Idi sooda!  Nanninin!  Nanninin!"  He started yelling all sorts of stuff.  He wanted me to sit down but his dad was getting something from under the bench so he started yelling at his dad and then at me and then at his dad and then at me. Volodya and Natasha were laughing so hard.  Natasha told me the day before Styopa had spent half the day going to my bedroom and knocking at the door saying my name and no matter how many times they told him I wasn't there he'd head back and do it again.  I'm going to be really sad to leave him.  We talked about Odesa and then I played with Styopa.  I was totally exhausted so I told him I was going to bed.  He said, "No, here on Sasha's bed."  So I lay down with Styopa on Sasha's bed and he lay there for about a minute before he poked me and told me to sing.  He thought we were playing sleeping bunnies.  So we did for a few minutes then I told him I really had to go and went and got in bed and pulled the covers over my head and ignored him until he went away or I was dead to the world I'm not really sure which happened.  I got up a while later and went to the school.  I had to stop to buy sixty eggs for class.  The lady gave me a really weird look and asked me if it was for Easter.  The coordinator at the school explained how they do eggs.  They boil them with onion skins to make them red to represent Christ's blood.  When I got home, I was ordered about by Styopa until I got a classic Ukrainian dinner of kasha, fried fish, cabbage, and beetroot horseradish sauce (it's way good and is coming back to the US with me).  
This morning, I helped Styopa eat his food when Mattvei pooped.  Styopa does not like eating his food so Natasha has also sorts of tricks to get him to do it.  So as soon as she left he got up to go play.  I said, "Нет! Кушай!"  (Styopa, eat!)  He said no and went to get up so I got down close to him and said, "Если ты не кушаешь кашу, Баба Яга будет кушать тебя." (if you don't eat your kasha, Baba Yaga will eat you.)  He looked at me in terror but started to eat.  When he would want to play again I would say, "Хочешь Баба Яга тебя кушать?"  (Do you want Baba Yaga to eat you?)  When he got bored and finally answered "Да", I said nibbled his hand and said,  "Я кушала тою руку, если ты не кушашь я буду кушать тою ногу" (I ate your hand, if you don't eat I will eat your leg too.)  He finished his kasha and Natasha was very impressed.

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