Ukraine Travelogue -
This is the long version of the travelogue. There is also a Short Version and a Slideshow of Village Day with 283 images for this day.
Kris and I got a TON of sleep - i.e. right through dinner and all night long - and woke up refreshed and hungry. The shower wasn't very stable - it went hot COLD hot COLD and also strong weak strong. It took some reflexes to get out of the hot water :)
The breakfast buffet was fairly substantial with several stations, but was also packed and very cramped. There was cheese, meat, fruit, eggs, bread, and several types of juices. We met in the lobby, where we discovered the lobby personnel didn't speak Ukrainian - only English and Russian. We also discovered that Nadia paid 40H to go 3 blocks - apparently taxi drivers take great advantage of you if you look like a tourist. They tried to argue, but they really need a taxi to get up the hill and the taxi driver refused to negotiate.
Wednesday was our day for learning more about life in rural Kiev. We hopped on the bus after our breakfast buffet and headed an hour out of the city to a village recreation area. The ride there was an incredibly dense traffic jam, moving very slowly. Where Lviv was rural and gorgeous outside of the city, here it was just industrial and more industrial. The side of the road was lined with rock sellers selling rocks of all shapes and sizes, including huge boulders and little gravel piles. Finally we got to the village area.
The very large grounds of this exhibition area is broken up into 7 regions - each containing buildings representing 200 years past structures. Unfortunately the museum is low on funds so only one area - that west of Kiev - was open. Each building has a person responsible for it and they can be locked or unlocked depending on the schedule. So for example the western Kiev region had perhaps 10 buildings and a church - but we couldn't go into the church because it was locked today.
Walking down the hill towards the village, we passed between two windmills. These are the traditional gateways to any village in Ukraine, the source of their energy. The first houses we encountered were the poorest houses. The very poorest was only a one room thatched roof small house. There was a little entry hallway where supplies were stored, and then to the left of that was the main room. It is where the family ate, slept, talked and relaxed. It had only tiny windows as glass was expensive. The hope chest was the table, and the big flat-topped stove was where the kids slept at night.
On one side of the house the roof jutted out, forming a little porch where people could hang out, or herbs could be dried. The hinges on the two doors were wooden - a wooden post on the door fit into a circle hole attached to the wall.
A woman behind the building was a pensioner who was schooled in architecture and who was volunteering here to try to keep the houses from falling into ruin. She was repairing the back wall of the house in the traditional way, with clay and water.
Next was the "next poorest" house. As we moved up the ranks, the windows got a little larger, the door hinges became metal and more fancy. Locks appeared on the door. The rooms got larger, and they added on a pantry and sheds. The richest person's house had a number of out-buildings including their own well. Other villagers had to share the village well by the church. There was a school with one big room for learning and then two rooms for the schoolteacher. The priest's house also had two rooms in it.
It was really lovely to walk around this little village. I could easily imagine being quite happy here. It's funny - the guide kept talking about the people being "miserable" here but I imagine they were probably very content. My grandmother's sister talked about all 12 of them sleeping together on the floor, singing songs all night. Yes, they had rough times during the warring periods, but during the quiet times when there was food and sunshine, I imagine they were quite happy.
One sad spot was that most homes only had one common bowl from which the whole family ate a soup - for example borscht. The parents would eat first and then all the kids would have to race furiously to get their share. So whoever was strongest and ate most quickly got most of the food. Vic said that his grandmother even now eats like a speed demon because of this, she practically inhales all of her food.
Lunch at the Kiev Village
Slideshow of Kyiv Village Photos - 283 images
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