It’s Monday morning, December 24th, and here I am in my office in the library. I had thought I would be on my way back from my visit with my friend Casey in Istanbul, but, alas, it was not to be. I did get to Kyiv the first part of last week and had kind of a nice time there. It was very cold with a freezing wind, but I had dressed for it, so for the most part, I was okay. The deep snow on the ground was beautiful to see, walking through the botanical gardens on the way to the Peace Corps office. As always in the winters here, the major problem is not the cold, but the snow and subsequent ice that accumulate on the sidewalks, making it so difficult to get around. Luckily, in Kyiv, there is an extensive subway system, so if one can brave the crowds, it is definitely the way to navigate the city, especially in the winter. I am used to the “metro,” as it is called here, and do not find the crowds a problem. And now, thanks to the Euro Cup being held here last summer, all the subway signs are also in English.
Spent my time working on closing grants at the Peace Corps office, going to the dentist for a teeth cleaning, eating falafels at my favorite Middle Eastern café, visiting the Germany Embassy to inquire for Serdar about studying in Germany (his latest idea), and having a brief meeting at the Netherlands Embassy to pick up books donated to our library. The Netherlands Embassy was quite impressive—a very modern four-floor building with an open atrium and a great espresso machine (so appreciated that cappuccino after waiting out in the cold for the embassy to open).
On the long overnight train back to Simferopol, I thought of all the great things Casey and I would do in Istanbul, but mostly just the opportunity to spend time with a fellow traveler talking about this life of volunteering overseas, hashing out ideas for “What next?” Got back to town early Wednesday morning, spent the day getting ready for the Istanbul trip, ignoring the sleeting rain hammering on the window. But early next morning when I got up to meet the taxi to the airport, I wondered if I would be going. Out at the airport, the cancellations and delays were happening already. I sat there for three hours in the unheated terminal and watched my flight get delayed and delayed and then cancelled. The flight got re-scheduled to the next day, but the same thing happened again, as the weather only got worse.
So no visit to Istanbul. And another lesson in living with uncertainty, that though we make plans, and wish and hope it will be so, there are no guarantees. I was feeling almost desperate to be out of my environment here, to be with a kindred soul that I could really talk with about all my confused feelings as of late. But, as always, I was able to adjust. Spent Saturday walking around the Simferopol center--going to the art museum which I have been meaning to do for the last year (having never been there), walking along the river, strolling a bit through the park where the Chernobyl monument is located. And then Sunday up into the forests near my home, which were transformed into a winter wonderland by the snow crystals clinging to the branches. And it helped me to remember once again how lucky I am to be living this life.