29 June 2006


The other day my mom wrote the abbreviation "A/C" in a message, and I wrote back and asked her what that meant. So quickly I've forgotten...

People always insisted that humid heat is worse than dry heat. That it's hotter, and it's harder to breathe. I thought I preferred it to dry, because my skin likes the moisture. But I'm currently rconsidering my stance. My legs were actually sweating today on the marshrutka into Kyiv, and this from a person who doesn't sweat. It's stifling hot these days, but I know I shouldn't complain. At least it's not snowing, right?

So we survived our first Ukrainian summer camp experience, and we're headed to #2 in a few days. We learned that it's important to ask for details before you make travel plans, to confirm that there is actually a camp to teach at in the first place. We got stuck in the difficult situation of teaching students who not only didn't want to be studying during their summer vacation, they didn't even know about the camp they were attending in the first place. On the first morning, Larry asked then, do you know why you're here? They all responded, "No!" in unison. We told them they were at English language camp, and they're weren't exactly thrilled. However, being that we're flexible, resourceful PCVs, we made something from nothing and it turned out not half bad.

Students created brochures for a local park, including information about plantlife, animals, park activities, scenery and a trail map. And they had to do it all in English, so we taught them the vocabulary they would need (meadow, path, grove, valley, etc), drew some pictures, played some games, and that was that. We only had 3 classes with them, but they came up with really good drafts.

Meanwhile, Ukraine eeked out an exciting World Cup victory, putting them into the top 8! All this in their first ever World Cup appearance. Looking forward to the next match tomorrow night.

20 June 2006


Perhaps my body adjusted to the cold. Since when is 75-80 degrees hot!? I think it's pretty humid here, but really. I'm getting emails and letters about record breaking heat in CA and CO, in the 90's and 100's, so this is nothing. It's like my body forgot what it's like, but I guess we'll find out at Softball Camp in a few weeks. It'll be like old times, red-faced Karen playin' ball.

This morning, L and I ventured to "Arson," a big supermarket we'd heard good things about. It has big wide isles, and more checkout stands than Costco. A lot of pre-packaged stuff like meats and dried fruits that might come in handy when we don't want to elbow our way through the crowds at the bazaars. Although, I think it's growing on me. In general people here seem more used to dealing with foreigners. They stare less. Sometimes people don't even turn around when they hear us speaking English.

Did we ever tell you what it's like buying meat at the bazaar? You enter a big cement warehouse with big chunks of meat hanging on hooks or lying on newspaper all around you. It's mostly female vendors, and they shout out to you as you walk by. People are poking the meat with their bare hands or picking up chunks to smell them. When you choose your vendor, usually someone that's been recommended to you by a friend, you ask what's fresh, or tell them what you plan to make with their meat. After asking the price and agreeing, you tell them how much you want. They then select a huge chunk of meat, still attached to a large portion of the animal, and place it on a flat surface (often a tree stump or cement block). They grab an axe and smash it into your selected chunk a few times until it breaks loose, put it on the scale, punch something into the calculator and stuff your meat into a plastic bag for you. Sometimes they even double bag it.

19 June 2006

Short update from L-town

Sunny now. Trying to capture the vitamin D and store it away for summer. Getting a little red, but enjoying the weather.

Just hosted our two friends from P---. We trained with them and were so happy to have them here. We took them around to all of the sites in the span of two days. We live in a good location where we can navigate to any point in the city pretty well. They were impressed with the view from the top of a high fortress. From there, you can see the edges of L---, where it melts away into western Ukrainian forest. For living in such a big city, it's nice to be reminded we're really just some people living in a large community right in the middle of a forest in Eastern Europe.

In two days we take off for a 20 day tour of summer campdom. We are teaching in two different cities, one in the central Ukraine, and one in the West. We are looking forward to seeing new parts of the country, but we just love our city so much it's hard to leave it. But, there is work to be done, and that is why we are here.

Enjoy youselves. Thinking of you.


07 June 2006


We are definitely sampling the good life. We've moved into our own apartment: 2 large rooms, a nice kitchen and bathroom, and a balcony. There's water all day, though the best pressure is during the usual 6-9am/pm. We have high ceilings and get morning sun into our bedroom and living room, when there's sun. Lately it's been cloudy and occasionally rainy, perhaps they have summers similar to Monterey here, though it's strange because we're not near the ocean (sea). You can check out photos of our new home on flickr.com (If you're not a member, let me know and I'll "invite" you).

Yesterday, during a discussion with my students about working or studying abroad, one girl asked if it was true that people in the U.S. are all fat. =) I think she was worried that this question would offend me, so she padded it with the disclaimer that she has family in the U.S. and they told her that people don't all look like they do on tv. I told her that in general, I thought it was safe to say that people in the U.S. are fatter than people here. We talked a bit about fast food and exercise and diabetes. This same girl dreams of going abroad and living in the U.S. I asked her where her family lives, thinking in my head what a rude awakening she'll be in for if she's expecting Beverly Hills, 90210. She replied, "Detroit."

Today's my last day of classes and I'm looking forward to having some more free time to explore the things we've been wanting to see in L---. Though I'll actually miss teaching my students. They're so interesting and fun to talk to and motivated. I'm sure the summer will fly and I'll be back in the classroom before I know it. I'll be doing an English Club in the library once a week here; we'll see if anyone shows up.

Yesterday we bought a bit pot to make soup in, and Larry cooked up some corn chowder. It's by far the best recipe we've found in the "Babusya's Cookbook" PC gave us. It's delicious, and it just gets better each day. Looking forward to a bit bowl of that for lunch later.

Wishing you sunshine and smiles from beautiful Ukraine. Happy day.