Sunday, April 19, 2009

Easter Day in Ukraine

This is a high holiday here. The more religious--not my family--go to church at midnight and stand until 5am for a continuous service. Someone in my group is going with her host family. She grew up in an Ukrainian family in the states so she has done it before. In my family, we got up early (6am) and took a basket of food to the church to have it blessed by the priests. Which basically is standing outside with a lot of other people, the priest walks by and sprinkles water on you and the food and says something.
I thought we were "going to church" as in the states, and got all dressed up in a dress (my first time). Well, all the other women had on pants as it was a long cold walk. Oh well...another fashion faux pax due to lack of understanding the language. However, I did fit in with the babuskas which is my role here, I believe.
So another week has passed. Working very hard with language lessons, organization visits, and general peace corps info transfer. I'm pretty exhausted by the end of the day, but I usually help Lena cook dinner and sometimes do the dishes. And I like to hang out with them a bit.
We visited an organization this week run by a very passionate woman which works with disabled people--called invalids here. What a hard, hard road they have. Like most of the world, this is a very difficult place to be disabled. There are no services, very little accessibility, and the sidewalks and roads are crumbling and filled with potholes. Even the org's offices in a run down building had steps and no ramp. Also the wheelchairs here are very heavy and clunky. This org has produced these incredible dance performances with abled body and disabled people in wheel chairs--they showed us clips--and you just ached for people trying to dance in those chairs when you know what is available. They also work a lot with children of Chernobyl victims, which unfortunatly is only about 70 miles from here, I believe.
I love all the women I have met who work for the PC (they are all Ukrainians). They seem like very strong feminists, though I don't think they would use that word. This week hopefully I get to visit the League of Business Women, or something like that.
I've been trying to stay healthy--eating as best I can, though it is a high starch diet and low on fresh veggies, because there are few fresh veggies right now. Though they are starting to show up in the bazar. Friday we shopped in the bazar and then cooked a meal at Tamila's house. Very fun. And the bazar is a trip--great place to practice my language skills if I could just understand the numbers well enough to know what they are charging! And are they speaking Ukrainian or Russian or a combination?
I've been walking a lot and trying to do yoga in the mornings. Sometimes I do get waves of what the hell am I doing, but mostly I'm loving the adventure. It's hard to imagine what it will be like when I go to my site and don't have all the support of the trainers and other PCV's that I do here. But I also kind of look forward to it. I like being with the Ukrainians despite the language difference, and sometimes some of the PCV's (as in ex-businessmen who think they know everything) drive me crazy. But, of course, there are also many wonderful PCV's-men and women.
Well, maybe that is enough for now. Hope all is well with everyone there.
Much love from the Ukrainian adventurer.


  1. Barb, I finally got over my ludite tendencies and have joined the blogging community! Only you would get me this far. Love following you down the big I always have. Talked to Sylvia today (we encouraged each other to sign up for the blog). She's doing better today but this week (4th chemo on Tuesday; over the hump!) was harder than last time I think. Anyway, she can tell you more. But love the sound of your family and of your adventures. Thanks for the news. J.

  2. Hi Barb - It sounds like you had a more interesting Easter than we did. We were home all day. Spring is eking its way in - 60-70 degree temps a couple of days. Today is colder tho (40's) and rainy. Gloomy! John is pleased; he made friends with the curly one next door and he rescued Teddy (the little one)last week when he got his leash wound up under the deck. You are a trooper! Getting all dressed up unnecessarily - who would have thought? Your remarks about the disabled bring back a lot of memories. It's not so long ago that we were fighting the same inaccessability issues here. I may go back to work this week. It's good to hear what you're doing - you are so brave! Take care, Sharon

  3. Hi Barb,
    Our Easter was spent at the lake doing an Easter Egg Hunt with little nephews and jumping rope and watching the ice go out. Very fun. This weekend Mark and I got out and played in the dirt. The sun is shining longer and longer. It sounds like you're having an interesting time and are rolling with it. Fun to hear your stories. All the best from here.


  4. HI Barb,

    I've beeb following your blog. Kent talks a lot about you but has not gotten into the blog wolrd just yet. He was supposed to do so this weekend , but as you can tell he has not made the jump yet.

    Your adventure reminds me when I first came to the US, not understanding English and different culure. Hang it there, you'll reach a point when it get easier all of a sudden.

    Kepp in touch,



  5. Hey Barb,
    Thanks so much for doing this blog! I so look forward to your weekly entry.
    We're having our first heat wave. A week ago we had a high of 60. Today's high is to be 97. At least it is still cooling off at night. Is it spring there or still late winter? It will be great to see the increasing variety of produce hit the market, huh?
    Thinking of you,

  6. Great Notes - and Pics - Thanks.
    I wish you'd had someone take a shot of you in the dress though! That would be one for the ages. Next Time!!

    Thinking of you.

  7. Hi Barb,
    Sounds like every day is an adventure. I wish you would send a picture of you in the dress. Green is starting to emerge here in South Mpls.I have seen some daffodils and some dandalines so despite the current drizzly, cool, day, spring is pushing it's way forward. Birds are very busy trying to court and find suitable homes for anticipated family duties. Have you seen sites of spring where you are?
    The upcoming Sun. is the Seward Coop grand opening. We are anticipating a state fair type day, crowded and upbeat. Take care of yourself and remeber to practice the 'power of the now'.