Sunday, March 20, 2011
Today we were able to take the kids for the day and tour the area and other things. So instead of giving you the blow by blow of the day I want to fill you in on interesting things we have encountered here in Ukraine, just to give you a feel for what we are experiencing. As I have said before, this area especially, is very old. The buildings were built 60-70 years ago and were supposedly refurbished after WWII. The buildings look like they are falling apart. Apartment buildings are patched here and there with various building materials. The apartment buildings are rectangular and basically all look the same. Some more run down than others. There are light rail style buses and regular looking buses that are constantly running. Out the back side of our apartment is a train/light rail style train that runs probably every half hour or so. Those trains are older and the color of the former Soviet Union whereas the buses are the colors of the current Ukrainian flag. Most of the cars seem to be diesel and in this city most are not newer cars. There are still some newer cars. Most people here travel by bus and walking, lots of walking. Most of the buildings have stores or businesses on the bottom floor and living spaces on the upper floors. There are many clothes and shoe shops. The markets are small that are just in neighborhoods and there are the occasional large markets and they tend to sell clothing and other items. They have kiosk style booths here and there. They look like the snow cone buildings in Utah. The windows are wall to wall covered with the items they sell. This is called “fast food”. There are chips, soda, candy, cigarettes, beer and some have fruits and vegetables, including the dirt left on them from being pulled right out of the ground. These shacks are usually placed by bus stops. At some corners that are busy to cross there are underground passages that take you to the other side of the street. In the underground passages are shops that sell everything from food and drink to sleezy lingerie.
Here you do not sign up for a phone plan you just buy your minutes as you need them. There are several phone companies and when you want more minutes you go into the store, write your phone number on a list with how much money you want to pay and you initial or sign the last line. There are phone stores everywhere. We had lunch today at a café that sold Ukrainian food. We really enjoyed it. Our translator helped us to order. It was kind of cafeteria style and you moved your tray around. There was the salad section, meats and potatoes and breads. Once you decide they put that portion on a plate, weigh it and hand it to you. Juice is popular here, especially orange juice and tomato juice. We made a point to try foods that were different and they were very good. I have not been disappointed about the food, it is just that everything is different. When I say everything, I mean everything, it is a hard adjustment – not bad, just hard. One salad we tried was like cole slaw. I didn’t realize that there was fish in it right away, tasted good though. However, in the last bite of fish I realized that it wasn’t cooked. You do need to be careful if you are sensitive to that.
Bathrooms – let’s just say I plan well. Hubby took me to one because he thought it was awesome. Hard to describe but it was a porcelain area of the floor with places to put your feet on either side and a hole/drain in the middle. He thought it would be great in the basement at our house and I just laughed and know that I don’t care how bad I have to go, I will just wait! Basically, I don’t drink a lot and plan accordingly so I don’t have too many bathroom stories to tell, although you can use TP in your apartment.
One more thing to be aware of – cross the road carefully. Those cars will come right up to you and run you over if you are not watching. It is up to the pedestrian to survive crossing the street not the driver of the car (apparently).
I don’t want to paint a poor picture of the area. There are wonderful people here. People who are busy with their everyday lives and who obviously love their children as we watch them walk hand in hand down the street. There are many more children in this city than in Kiev. (on the street anyway). We have seen them bundled up in coats and hats and they are adorable! As I watched the children play at the so-called carnival we went to yesterday I realized that this is what they are used to and this is what they have. They make the best of it and give what they can to their children.
Tomorrow we will spend the afternoon at the orphanage. I really enjoy that because I like to play with all the kids. They are beautiful children and when it is our time to leave it will be hard to leave them behind. They love attention and to be loved. It is very comfortable to sit and hang out with all of them. A smile and a hug go a long way. (a pack of gum doesn’t hurt either).
Our oldest boy decided on a name today and we are just going to give one to the younger boy because he is happy with anything. We decided to keep their first names as is. The older boy’s middle name will be William and the younger boy we will decide on soon. Sorry kids we will probably change the one you decided on. Love to everyone at home. We feel your prayers. I believe that is what gives me my strength to press forward. Thanks for the comments, I love to read them!