Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer night in Crimea

A hot summer night, here in Crimea. Just went for a slow walk up through the open spaces and collected a lovely bouquet of wildflowers for my table. Too hot to go on a real hike, though yesterday Sirdar (neighbor boy—see photo) went on a 2-hour hike, doing the loop through the forest and up along the bluffs. A really beautiful hike, and it’s from my little house.
Speaking of my little house, spent yesterday cleaning, going to the bazaar for things like a dish drying rack and a waste can. Rummaged around the house and found a better plastic table cover for the kitchen counter than the really ratty one that was on it, and also discovered a drawer I hadn’t noticed which had a garlic press and a grater---hooray, I’m set! But really, I am feeling better and better about my abode, making it into a real home. And it is such a treat living in a neighborhood where I can walk down the rutted road and say hi to people, and wander around and pick wildflowers.
A pretty quiet week, it seems. I did discover a grant that I think my arts organization should apply for—it’s a European foundation based in Amsterdam and they are committed to culture diversity. After looking at what they have funded in the past, it so seems like a possibility. However, the application is due in 2 weeks! But they initially only want a 2-page description of the project, so I thought that is something we could pull off. But after meeting with Inver and Ceitbala, I really don’t know. The language barrier is just so huge for getting anything done. I’m not sure I even got a across what we needed to get done and when the deadline is. We do use a translation program, but it is a literal translation, and often makes no sense. And we do just try to talk, sometimes with some pretty funny results. Over lunch they thought I asked them a question about traveling to Moscow on business, and I have absolutely no idea what I said that conveyed that message. I am learning many ways to communicate without language, and it can work pretty well when I am having coffee with Maya next door, but it sure is a roadblock in my work.
Joe Biden is going to be in Ukraine on Tuesday, and the PCV’s were all invited to come and meet him in Kyiv at some sort of reception. I thought about going, but just couldn’t stomach the idea of a 28-hour RT train trip, especially in this heat. I am regretting it a bit, because it would have been fun to see some of my friends, though Fran isn’t going either. But I also have this strong feeling of not wanting to leave Crimea and the community here. That Kyiv is in another country and I belong here in Crimea. I have been reading a Crimean Tatar history and am so immersed in their community and trying to understand it, that I don’t want the distraction of being around a lot of Americans. I am going to Kyiv in August for a training the PC is putting on about volunteerism, but I’m going with Nadzhye, so that will have a whole different feel to it.
I tutor a young man twice a week in English—well, not really tutor. He comes to the library for an hour so he can speak English with me. He helped me this week to figure out the modem thing so I can have internet at home, which I am very happy about. Speaking of tutors, I now have a Russian language tutor. We have met and set up the arrangements, and I start with her on Friday. Problem is, she doesn’t speak much English, so I don’t know how this is going to work. Maybe that doesn’t matter, we’ll see… I do feel like I need a lot of help, and patience, I guess. I have been here almost four months now, which isn’t all that long in the language learning department. I just so want to know what people are saying! Or at least have some idea! (especially when I can tell they are talking about me…).
I don’t seem to have much to say tonight, so I think I will get back to my Crimean Tatar history book. I love hearing from everyone, so email me if you have a chance. Sometimes I get pretty lonely for a familiar voice…
Much love--Barb

1 comment:

  1. Hi Barb - So surprised when I checked your blog today and discovered how remiss I've been. I have been busy with pt and appts tho and I guess the days (weeks) just flew by. What fascinating tales you have to tell! Who would have ever dreamed you would end up working in a library? I can't imagine looking for grants there, however; I know how hard it is here when everyone speaks English! I looked at a very old (WWI?) atlas of Aaron's that resides on our library table and found your city with Simferopol in parentheses. I assume it's naming, re-naming, and return to Simferopol is all part of its history. I finished reading my book on Catherine the Great, thinking about you all the while. I don't recall her spending much time, if any, in the Crimea, but the Ukraine was frequently mentioned. I did check out a website on Crimea that had a lot of pictures of your city (and also appeared to be a website for finding Russian wives). There were 130 pics of the city and I was surprised how much sculpture appears to be there. I even saw the McDonalds! Some of the pictures from atop the bluffs reminded me of looking at LaCrosse or Winona from the Mississippi bluffs. I am happy to hear you are doing well and enjoying your adventure. I thought of you immediately when I received an e-mail Friday from our HR department requesting a posting in our office of a PC recruiter who is speaking at the City this month. I put posters up on all our doors so everyone is sure to see them. Take care! Sharon and John