It’s Sunday, about 1:30, and I’m leaving in a bit to catch the matruska down into the city to meet Natalya, the director of the Children’s Library, and her English speaking daughter to go on a tour of some museum. I have never spent any time around Natalya—she has been on vacation for the last month—so this should be interesting. Plus we haven’t really gotten to talk when I have seen her as she speaks no English and is in the group that is not really into trying to converse without the language. Some people want to try and talk with you and some don’t , or maybe they are just too shy or stressed or….whatever. Like me, many times.
Yesterday was an adventure. I went to the Rinok (what they call the bazaars here) in the morning—got bread, butter, cheese, eggplants, peppers (though discovered I left them there—probably when I was fumbling with the change), green beans, salat (lettuce), tomatoes, peaches. It’s a lot like going to the farmer markets at home, except there is a little stall for absolutely everything—clothing, shoes, toilet paper, dishes. I haven’t been able to find a stall that sells yoga mats, but I am still looking.
At home I did some laundry and then stopped into to chat with neighbors because Enver, one of the artists I work with, was there—he is good friends with Server, the dad of the household. While I was there Lenora from across the street came over and said to come with her, they were going to the sea! I said cechac (right now)? And she said yes, come. So off I went with the family—Neshet and Lenora, Sirdar and Sophia. I will put a picture of them on the blog and facebook. First we drove about an hour to an area of beaches with high sandy cliffs. (This is the Black Sea I am talking about for those of you who are geographically impaired). But the water looked murky—maybe due to the wave action, I don’t know. So they said they wanted to go somewhere else to where the water is cheesty (clean; clear). So we drove along to the coast to a tourist village and ended up at the pebble beach of a resort. It was beautiful—clear water, the perfect temperature. And no waves-maybe that area is more protected. We stayed there a couple of hours until the sun went behind the mountains. I loved the chance to swim—felt like I had died and gone to heaven. And maybe I will have to invest in a new suit—absolutely everyone here, no matter age or body type—wears bikinis and that could be fun! My suit was kind of embarrassing.
So after swimming I thought we would head home, but we stopped at a couple of other villages and ended up at a palace built in the early 1800’s on an incredible site between the mountains and the sea. Strolled around there until dark and then headed home—didn’t get back until 10:30. A wonderful day, but unfortunately when I returned, I found out Nadzhye had been trying to call me—she tried 12 times!—to make arrangements for the museum visit today. I felt really bad—I didn’t take my cell phone because I thought we were just going to the beach and would be back in the evening. Ah well, a lesson learned. And of course, all of this is impossible to explain in my limited Russian. Hopefully, no one is majorly upset with me. I don’t think so. I’ll try to apologize again to Nadzye tomorrow when I see her, but even that is hard to do in Russian!
But, oh my gosh, is Crimea beautiful. Sort of think Yosemite combined with the ocean. Steep mountainsides cascading down through forests to villages on the sea. I took pictures, of course, but they really don’t do it justice. I so look forward to exploring this beautiful land for the next couple of years. There is suppose to be really great hiking, but no topos available, so I’m hoping to find someone who knows the way. I’m sure it will happen—people are so generous and proud of their land.
Evening now, just got back from my museum visit which turned into a barbecue at the director’s home. I met her daughter in town—Kseniya (another name I’m going to have a hard time remembering), and we went to the “ethnographic” museum in town which was a few rooms of displays of the different peoples who have inhabited Crimea. It was pretty interesting, but what was really interesting was I got the Russian version of Crimea Tatar history here which is quite different from the history I have been reading. And almost exactly as described in the book, the museum person talked about how the Russians annexing Crimea in the late 1700’s brought culture to an uneducated and backwards people, totally ignoring the rich and learned culture of the Crimean Tatar people.
So, after about an hour in the museum, we went to the director’s home. I never went inside—we sat out in her garden along with her other 15 year-old daughter and had a nice dinner of the Crimean version of shisk kabobs. I know if as you read this you have the image I have of dinner in someone’s backyard, but it is so not that. The houses are very old, very shabby looking from the outside at least, very very un-American looking, at least the America I know. But it was so pleasant eating outside, despite the rain that started. We just continued on, sitting under umbrellas. And next weekend they invited me to go to a beach with them. We’ll take a bus, which is great because then I will know how to get there on my own. Plus they use to live on the coast and know all the wonderful beaches, or so I assume. Kseniya said she couldn’t imagine not living near the Black Sea and feels unsettled by now living two hours away.
Well, it is getting late here, and I need to get off to bed. I will try to post some pictures tomorrow or maybe just put them on facebook, which is so much easier. Love to you all.