Wow, what a rush! I went down to Odessa to celebrate thanksgiving and I counted it up…it took me 9 buses, 2 trains and one car via hitchhiking, 215 greeven (apprx. $43), and over 47 hours of traveling in less than 6 days. It was exhausting, dirty (I didn’t shower at all while I was gone) and sometimes stressful, but it is one of my absolute favorite Peace Corps memories so far.
I started by visiting Emily’s village outside of Odessa, where I got to meet her amazing host mother and sister. We didn’t stay too long though, as it took almost half a day to get the 80 or so kilometers to Eileen’s. She also lives in a tiny village about two hours outside of Odessa. There is only one bus daily to/out of her village and on Sundays it takes the day off. The neighbors down the street graciously offered a live turkey for our feast, and we all got to watch them kill it. I was a little squeamish, but strangely glad to meet my meal and see that it led a good life.
We spent all day Saturday cooking and preparing the meal. The power went out just as we put the turkey in the oven, but fortunately came on an hour later. Friends and family from home had sent stuffing mixes, cranberry sauce, and pudding mixes. There were about 20 of us that eventually sat down to dinner and it was just plain awesome.
Coming back to my town was interesting, as the train only stopped at a town about two hours away from mine. But after a few buses, I finally made my way home. Then it was time to focus all energy on preparing for my birthday. In Ukraine, you pay for and prepare your own birthday celebration. Everyone else toasts you and wishes you well. Instead of cake, I made lasagna and an apple pie for everyone at work. They made me feel so special, presenting me with a card, yarn and knitting needles so I can learn to knit socks, and a doormat for my apartment. Then they wished me happiness and a long, healthy life. It was quite touching! =)
Now I am trying to catch my breath, but it’s unlikely. There is so much to be done! I hope the holidays are going well for you all, thank you for your thoughts!