What a wild summer I’ve had. My last post was written in Kyiv, where I had planned on staying a couple of days to celebrate a graduation and a birthday before moving on to help another volunteer in another city. Plans changed, and I ended up having to stay for about a week and a half. When the volunteer I was with and I were finally given the green light to head home, we couldn’t find any open trains to get there. We ended up hitching a ride in a Peace Corps car that was headed to a camp out West near us.
We spent a few days at my house, watched a bunch of Game of Thrones, ate no-bake cookies, then packed up for me to have another round of travelling. We caught the train to Chernivtsi, got pedicures, then I met two other volunteers at the train station to head to Ternopil (which is probably my favorite city in Ukraine). If you read my blog, I was there to help with a camp a few weeks ago. We were going to Ternopil to go to a music festival called “Faine Micto.”It was RIDICULOUSLY hot outside, but our bus was filled with other young people (arms full of camping gear) headed to the music festival as well.
(A quick aside, busses in Ukraine in summer are TORTUROUS. They are CROWDED and HOT and people REFUSE to open windows, or THEY WILL CLOSE THEM WHEN THEY ARE OPEN. There’s a fascinating history behind this having to do with drafts causing illness and plagues and whatnot, but it is still ridiculously frustrating. This is why I try and take the train to and from the city when I can, even though I have to leave really early and I don’t get back until really late. It’s also much cheaper. )
ANYWAY, despite the fact that it was SO CROWDED on the bus that their were people in the aisles that had to stand the whole time, usually people only have to stand for part of the trip because there’s a pretty steady exchange of people throughout the journey, but this time everyone got on in Chernivtsi and wasn’t getting off until Ternopil. This also lead to the two volunteers I was with nearly getting stranded in the bathroom at a bus station in the middle of nowhere Ukraine because we didn’t stop anywhere for very long because we didn’t have room for any new people. WE KEPT THE WINDOWS OPEN THE WHOLE TIME. (God bless the Dima that opened the windows for everyone). It was still hot, but the tiny bit of a breeze helped on the four hour drive.
We made it to Ternopil and lugged our bags from the bus station. The music festival was incredible. I’d never been to a music festival before and I didn’t know any of the bands that were playing, but it was fun to people watch, listen to music and dance. I would study during the day some days and then we’d head out to the music festival each night. I also got to spend some time with new Ukrainian friends, which was super fun.
A couple days later I got to head out to the mountains, checking another huge thing off of my “Summer in Ukraine” bucket list. We started taking a train to трускавец (Truskavets), which is a small mountain town with a famous spring. We tried the water, which is supposed to be good for your skin, but also smelled a bit like eggs. We took a bus to an even smaller town, more like a village, called східниця (Skhidnytsia). It’s nestled in these beautiful, pine-covered hills. While we were there, we hiked, we fished, we made smores and shashlik (Ukrainian bbq), we made the fish we caught, I studied a teeny tiny bit, I (finally) kinda learned how to throw a frisbee, we saw castle ruins, I pet some sheep. I had an incredible time. It felt so good to be out in the mountains again.
We started the journey home after a relaxing and exhausting couple of days. First to трускавец, then to Ternopil, next Chernivtsi and finally to my sweet little village. I spent a couple days packing and the moved to my new house in Mamalyga. It’s a cute little house (with way too many spiders at the moment). The shower is in the kitchen, sometimes my water randomly turns off, but it’s mine.
I’m writing this from a cafe in Chernivtsi after a really early morning to come in to the city. I’m headed to Kyiv tonight to head to a camp (my final one of the summer). I’ll be headed home for a couple weeks after that and then going to Odessa (the beach!!!) as my last trip before school starts.