I can't really believe it, but I had a few minutes to myself at home this afternoon, without anything to do! So I listened to music, blogged and ate борщ (which I am obsessed with). But then my internet when kaput, so I am posting this now. Cross-cultural and technical sessions this morning, followed by my 6th attempt to get my hair cut - still closed, maybe Monday. At 6 we had dinner at Evan's host home, with his host Mom Hala and host sister Oluna. We go to a different host family every Saturday for dinner. All of our families want to have us over every single week, but we can only take so much food, plus want to visit with each one. Tomorrow is totally free, so I am going to sleep-in, eat more борщ, play with Spook, and answer e-mails. We'll see what my internet has to say about the latter. Probably walk to town to see if the barber is felling better, but it's doubtful.
Returned from Kiev late last night after an absolutely fantastic visit. The weather was so beautiful, and the gold on top of the cathedrals was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Our day started at a cafe, where we had some long anticipated and much deserved lattes. The 6 a.m. bus was a little early, so a wake up coffee was most definitely in order. Lena did great empowering us to find our way around the city and communicating with people, but also showed us how to use the Metro, the buses, and train station. Big city transportation made me miss Buenos Aires a lot, but it was great to be experiencing and explore a totally new city and extremely different culture.
After a few buses and Metro rides later, we made our way to the Peace Corps office, quaintly located on Саксаганського (Sound it out...Sak-sa-han-sko-ho) Street. It is very hidden, and has sort of a secret ally way entrance. Luckily, I spotted more buildings down the ally, so I ventured off the beaten path and there it was! Lena was shocked when I returned to the group and told them where it was. "You're not supposed to find it this easily," she said with a big girn. (Apparently it took her close to an hour, and she speaks the language!) We checked it out, talked to some Volunteers in group 35 that were doing COS (Close/Continuation of Service) medical clearance, and met more of the staff. There's a lounge for Volunteers, as well as computers; a nice spot to stop in and visit when I'm in Kiev again.
After the business was taken care of, we were free to explore! First things first, food. We were told about a falafel place down the street, but we found a Crimean restaurant that looked good, and fit into our training budget. Plus we wanted to eat close to Independence Square. There we took pictures, and saw some of the monuments, as well as just relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful sun and sites. We continued walking around "Old Kiev" to St. Sophia's cathedral, ascended the bell town, and took in the amazing view. We also had time to visit two more cathedrals, St. Micheal's and St. Andrew's. I could have spent all day walking the grounds, looking at the architecture and paintings. I am now so interested in more of the history behind the cathedral's, and want to read more in depth about each one -actually more about Ukraine in general. I know I'll have plenty of time to read this winter, and hopefully return next summer full of knowledge and have more time to check things out. Today in our Cross Cultural session, we learned more about the history of Ukraine, and it also sparked my interest about so many things. So many books to read, so much frozen time to soon do it!
Our day concluded next to one of the symbols of Ukrainian statehood, the Днiпро (Dnieper) River. Walking the streets, seeing in the sites, and taking in the city life was just what we all needed, because as loud and crazy as it was, it reminded us of the lives we left back at home. Unlike Kivshovata, Kiev is a bustling place, and it was nice to have that for a few day. Isn't it funny how sometimes the craziest of situations, such as a jam packed Metro car in the middle of Kiev or asking for directions to strangers in a train station, can not only humble you, but relax you. Reflecting on the day as I walked home in silent Kivshovata, I could only smile, laugh, and be thankful for everything Ukraine has given me in my 4 weeks of being here.
Next week we have a break from teaching, which couldn't come at a better time. We can focus on our Kivshovata TEFL project, as well as our individual cluster projects, and lesson planning for the weeks to come. Thank you to everybody for the e-mails and updates. Expect a reply soon, internet depending. I'm off to check on Spook before heading to bed. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!