Sunday, October 9, 2011

Coping with life's little difficulties Ukrainian style

Monday morning at the library, trying hard not to be frustrated with the fact that we don’t have internet and no one seems to be able to fix it. Well, maybe it is being worked on, but no information is forthcoming. One thing I have noticed over and over is that situations that make us Americans kind of crazy—like the internet not working—seem to just be accepted here with the attitude of “oh well, it’s a drag, but what can you do…” (my words). I feel myself getting worked up about the situation, but no one else around me seems to be. Similar to when the bank demanded some kind of documentation before they would give the library the money we had received for the scanner. I was outraged, but no one else seemed to be which I found very interesting. I wondered if some of my perplexity is my lack of understanding of what is going on, but other Volunteers I have talked with also recognize this phenomenon. There is just an acceptance of adverse conditions here that I think Americans would find unfathomable. And though it initially feels like some kind of passivity and indifference, I think ultimately it’s not. Because they act on the problem—we did indeed get the documentation we needed to prove to the bank that the money belonged to the library and the internet problem is being worked on—but there is a kind of underlying acceptance that this is just the way things are and there is nothing you can do about it. Perhaps it comes from Soviet times when it became a survival technique to not question what was happening but just to quietly accept it. And though I think people no longer quietly accept it, they certainly don’t get worked up the way we do in America. And ultimately I find that kind of peaceful. Here I am, a couple of hours later with my work plans abandoned for the day because of the lack of internet, and I too, am feeling “well, okay, that’s the way things are today. I’ll just find something else to do. I don’t really have to do what I planned to do right this very moment. It can wait.” And it feels…well, kind of peaceful.

Next day, internet working—not only working but improved(!) as now there seems to be wireless in the library and because I use the library’s laptop for my computer, I can be on the internet via the wireless. Nearing the end of my day here so thought I would get back to this post and finish it to put on my blog tomorrow with some pictures. Hopefully. Actually I had thought I would have pictures from a little back packing trip I went on last week, but I was so wrong. Ended up with exactly one picture as the weather turned so bad, that we spent most of the time holed up in our campsite, feeding a fire with wet wood, and trying to stay warm in the cold wind and fog on the top of Demerdji mountain.

It has been beautiful fall weather here—just last Wednesday I went on a three-hour hike wearing t-shirt and shorts. So I convinced PCV pal Cheryl to do a little backpacking trip up in the mountains—just one night as that was all she had time for. We decided to go up to Demerdji because we had been there before, and it is very beautiful with many places to explore. We got off the bus at the pass (after yelling at the bus driver, who had apparently forgotten us, to stop) and started heading up through the forests on what seemed to be a marked route on the map. But like many places in the mountains of Crimea, there were several other trails through the forest, and it was a constant decision making as to which way to go. I had been to Demerdji twice before, and both times made it up to the plateau without too many wrong turns. But this time, we decided to try and follow the route signs on the trees that corresponded to our map. However, at some point we turned left instead of right, even though we were still following the route signs. Well, we got majorly lost and turned around, and it took us a couple of hours to eventually get back on track. It appears that though the map shows only ONE Route no. 128, apparently there are in actuality several branches of it.

But we did get up above the tree line and out onto the plateau with the beautiful views of the sea below us and the strange rock formations of Demerdji above us. We had planned to hike around the opposite end up the plateau from where we had been before, but as we started out on the trail, we saw the dense fog rolling in and knew it would not be safe up on the plateau in the fog, as many of the trails have vertical drop-offs. I had read in one of my guide books that every year several people die in the mountains of Crimea because though they are not all that high, they are characterized by plateaus with sheer cliffs and sudden fogs. There was also a cold wind blowing, so though it was only early afternoon, we decided to huddle down in a campsite in the forest with the hope that the next day would provide us some clear hiking weather. But that was not to be, as all day and night the wind blew and we were surrounded by a dense wet fog, and we woke up the next morning to the same conditions. We were both so cold when we set up camp, but surprising to us, given the weather conditions, we were able to get a fire going and keep it going all day and spent our time huddled around it for warmth. And, though, of course I would have liked it to be nice sunny warm weather (as was forecasted!), I still was just so happy to be out in the mountains, to be camping once again.

After sleeping pretty late, we made some breakfast in the vestibule of the tent, packed up our wet gear, and headed back down the mountain. And it wasn’t too far down the trail before the weather started to clear, and it wasn’t such a bad day, after all. I have often seen that phenomenon on walks near home to where I can see Chatyr Dag. There it is, encased in the clouds, and I am in the sunshine down below. We met several hikers on the way up—including a group of middle aged women who asked me my age and kept saying “moladets” (way to go!) to me—and warned them of the weather up above, something our Russian seemed capable of.

So got back home midafternoon with time to dry out the tent and gear and eat some lunch with the family. And determination to try getting up to Demerdji again—though maybe not this fall.
Much love to all from Crimea.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Barb, What a wonderful blog. I guess my internet savvy wasn't high enough to access this last year when I tried. I'm so glad I tried again.

    I see you are still in the Ukraine. Such an adventure you're having! You are probably used to hearing that, but I'm new to your blog.

    Take care, Dale