My Host Family's house (My room is the top right)
I have been in Ukraine for a month now and it feels like I have been here forever. The time is going by so fast it is amazing. So I will back up a little here and tell you all how the last month has been going and what I have been doing. I got to Ukraine with the rest of my 40B group on a very cold, wet rainy day and we drove to a place called Desna that is just outside of Cherniv, a couple of hours north east of Kyiv. We were there for less than 24 hours and then we were all on different buses that were taking us to our various training sites, where our 40A peers had already been for a week. I was the last one to get off our bus in my training site, a town called Hrebinky. It is located on the Kyiv, Odessa highway and it home to a beet sugar factory. It is only about 40 minutes to an hour away from Kyiv by bus or “Marshutka”, which is excellent. It is a really great little town it has about 8-10 thousand people, a river, one bank, a post office and three very small grocery type stores.
My host family is wonderful I love them! My host dad and sister were there to pick me up when I got to Hrebinky and my host family has an awesome yellow Lada that looks like it came right out of the USSR. It reminds me of the Trabbis from East Germany. I live quite a ways from the city center, all of the other volunteers, our school where we teach and the house where we have language class at. It is about a 40 minute walk for me anywhere I want to go which has its ups and downs and I am just trying to get used to managing my travel time better and the sad part is that time management has never been a strong point.
My host family has a very nice house. We have hot and cold running water, no well water fetching for me. We have an indoor toilet which is great too! No outhouse for me!…yet anyways. The toilet paper was a bit hard to get used to though. Imagine brown streamer paper. I also have a lovely tub to bathe in. Some of my other volunteer comrades have not been so lucky. Once weekly sponge baths in little plastic tubs, no running water let alone hot or cold, and there are a few with some good quality outhouse experience.
My host dad and his fish
Some of my daily walks have been fraught with peril due to a problem of angry scary dogs that will chase and bark at you down the street. Its a really good thing that there are only about 10 cases of rabies in Ukraine every year. And I must say thank god for friendly neighborhood babushkas. They will save your life by throwing logs and various other objects at them if they come to close to getting you. This was an unexpected surprise upon arrival in Ukraine. There are lots of stray dogs roaming the streets in packs on the never ending hunt for food. In addition to these hungry pests there are also the dogs that people own to basically guard their houses. Every other house that you pass either has a BEWARE ANGRY DOG sign or one sitting right out front to make sure no one happens to get to close.
Fish guts that my host mom later fried up to eat
I have never had the fortune to live on a farm however I feel like I live in one big one now. As apposed to America where large animals such as cows, horses, even down to animals like pigs and goats are not allowed to be kept within city limits, Ukraine has no such laws. On my daily walk to and from school every day I pass by a rather small house with a very small yard. It took about a week of walking past it every day to take inventory of all of the animals that actually live in this small little abode. It started with just the chickens and ducks. We then progressed to little pigs and a goat. To finally a cow and a horse. This is very typical for Ukrainian families to have this many animals. I pass by another house on my way that has two goats tied up outside everyday. And there is a family of ducks that live by the river and play in a pond that is a fair distance from their house but they manage to find it everyday and in a neat straight line they waddle to and fro.
Another occurrence that has taken some adjustment is the burning piles of trash. Ukraine does not have services such as trash collection. Instead trash (at least at my host family’s house) is sorted into four different bins. One is for Boy our dog. He eats whatever we don’t (not dog food). There is a bin for anything compostable, one for anything burnable and one for anything not burnable. There is always a trash pile burning somewhere or there is a leaf and brush pile burning. Anything that can be burned is burned in small piles outside. Coming home smelling like a camp fire is my new fragrance and I am sure that it will continue to get worse as it starts getting colder with people burning wood fires to heat their houses along with burn piles.
So far this is my new life in Hrebinky and I actually really love it! Ukraine is great… as long as I have no more run ins with angry dogs!