Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rainy weekend activities

I wasn’t feeling too inspired to write a blog post, but then I started scrolling back though old posts, looking for information for a going-away-project for the library—I plan to make them a photo record of my work here—and realized how wonderful it is to have all these posts I wrote starting almost four years ago. 

So, a little bit of catching up. The weather hasn’t been too conducive to hiking these past couple of weekends, so I have been content to limit my hikes to my now well-traveled route of walking the dirt roads of Ak Mechet to the nearby rocky bluffs and following the cliff edge to the highest point, then down through the forest back to Ak Mechet and my home, a hike of one and half to two hours, depending on how energetic I am feeling and how distracted I get by bird watching and the view. And what a view it is when the sky is clear and the clouds are not obscuring the distant mountains. I will never tire of it—the long tent-like silhouette of Chatyr Dag—the second highest mountain in Crimea—rising above the plain, the distant Demerdji with its bizarre rock formations, the snow covered plateau of Babugan extending to the sea.  Below the mountains, the rolling fields of wheat change colors with the growing season and the villages nestled between them look like toy towns. Always I look out on that landscape and feel so thankful that I ended up here in Crimea and that this is my backyard.

I did have some fun times these past couple of weeks, though, despite the cold and drizzly weather.  One of the weekends was spent traveling to Lenura’s parents’ village of Berezovka to celebrate her father Ablumet’s 65th birthday.  Though I like visiting her parents a great deal, I was dreading it a bit because it always means a time of me sitting around not comprehending much of what the family is chatting about, which is even more true when there is some kind of celebration and Lenura’s aunt and uncle show up. Usually Serdar is around to help translate, but he wanted to stay home and have a party for his friends and Safie also ended up not going because she had a school obligation. So it was just the adults.

But surprise, surprise, I ended up having a really nice time and for the most part, was able to participate in the conversation. I don’t know what was different—maybe I was just paying more attention? Not depending on Serdar to translate? Whatever it was, I did feel much better about my language skills as a result. A momentary victory, I know, but at least it must mean I have made some progress…

And on the other weekend, I took off to Sovetsky, the home of my PCV friends Cheryl,  Joohee, Brad and Bryna. Cheryl is in Italy for three weeks, but the other three decided to have a going away gathering for a nearby PCV who is leaving her site at the end of March. It was a small group—only six of us—and mostly an excuse for all of them to cook up a storm. Both Joohee and Brad are great cooks—Brad even made a loaf of his homemade bread (with carrots and garlic) for me to take home. Men around here—especially Crimean Tatar men—rarely cook, so we keep telling him what a great role model he is being. His wife, Bryna, however, gets the short end of it as everyone wonders why she isn’t being a good wife and “taking care of her man.” But they do provide a lovely example of a marriage that is a partnership.

I stayed overnight, and we had a nice time, eating, talking, drinking some homemade wine, watching a really bad Tom Hanks movie in which he is a reluctant PCV, and just generally enjoying each other’s company. Except for hiking with Cheryl, I am rarely around other PCV’s these days—and thus rarely around native English speakers—and it was a treat to be able to communicate so freely.
Weather forecast is looking a little better for this weekend, so hope to get some hiking in.
Much love to all from Crimea.

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