stevenpiziks: (Fountain)
Packed up everything in the morning.  This took some doing.  Sasha’s family loaded us down with several presents, including many jars of fruit preserves.  Most were jams, but a few were syrups or fruit preserved in liquid.  Those we unfortunately had to throw away.  Jams we can put into plastic shopping bags and wrap in dirty laundry.  If such a jam jar pops open or breaks, it’ll only wreck one item of clothing.  If a syrup jar is involved, it’ll ruin the whole suitcase.

Packing the other things so they wouldn’t break was also a challenge, but we managed it and we got everything together just as our transportation arrived.  It was the same mini-van driver we had to and from Korosten.  His driving technique to the airport hadn’t improved any, and he nearly hit a little car while passing it.  I almost told Gene to add that if he had another close shave, I would knock 50 grivna off his fee, but I didn’t, and he had no more close shaves anyway.  I mysteriously failed to tip him, though.

Inside the airport, we bid Gene good-bye.  I did add a 400 grivna tip to Gene’s fee, which he liked very much.  And then we were on our own.

It’s not much fun to negotiate an airport in which you don’t understand the dominant language, but we managed it.  Got our boarding passes, checked our luggage, negotiated passport control, and then waited for boarding to begin.

So now we’re on our way back.  It’s the usual tediousness of air travel.  We had some drama because the flight out of Kyiv was inexplicably delayed (we all sat on a shuttle bus on the tarmac for over twenty minutes, after which it looked like Lufthansa and United Air would have to reroute and/or find hotel accommodations for a couple hundred passengers who would miss connections, so they quickly decided to hold the connecting flights for us).  It’s weird to be looking out the window at an afternoon sky when my watch and my body say it’s nearly midnight.  I’m doing some writing, the first time in over a week.

Almost home!
stevenpiziks: (Fountain)
JULY 5, 2010

Today started out ordinary.  We got up, showered, packed, ate breakfast.  Sasha was grouchy again, partly because he isn’t a morning person and partly because he’s leaving his Ukrainian family behind for an unknown length of time.  Yesterday at one point during the drive through his home village, he said he blamed me for this.  If I hadn’t “taken him away from Ostapy,” he’d still be here.

“I would have lived at the Internat until I was sixteen, then come back,” he said.

“And Maksim?” I said quietly.

Read more... )

All of us were extremely tired after all the uphill walking, so we elected just to head back to the flat for the evening.  We might try for the monastery or one of the war memorials tomorrow morning, but I have my doubts.

I’m ready to go home, myself.

stevenpiziks: (Fountain)

It’s the Fourth of July, and here I am in Ukraine.  Weird.

Mom is feeling fine today, if a little shaky, and she ate breakfast in the restaurant.  She wasn’t up to going to Ostapy, though, so she stayed behind.

The morning was actually free time, since we weren’t planning to go until afternoon.  I set out to explore a bit more of Korosten.  There =had= to be more of it than the bit I was seeing.  Mostly, there had to be more shopping.  The tiny little stores I had seen simply wouldn’t support the population.

I went down a large side street and followed a stream of people.  I passed a bunch of Soviet era concrete bunkers, a wreck of an apartment building that had apparently been “under construction” for several years and would be for years to come, and then came on a bunch more little stores.  Ah ha!  And then I found an alley with a door at the mouth of it.  A woman was selling bras and other ladies’ underthings nearby, and people were going in and out of the door.  I suppressed a small triumphant whoop.  I’d found it!

Read more... )

Tomorrow we return to Kyiv.
stevenpiziks: (Fountain)
Sasha got his wish, but in a weird way.  Mom got sick.

When I went to her room this morning to see about breakfast, she answered the door in her nightgown and said she was ill.  Her stomach hurt quite a lot, had been all night long.  At least she didn’t have a fever.  She definitely didn’t want to go to Ostapy today.

I made her comfortable as best I could--hotel rooms aren’t conducive to that, unfortunately--and Gene and I went down to breakfast.  Gene said he’d had some problems yesterday evening, too.  Ah ha!  I think it was the pizza.  Mom and I ordered one kind, Gene another, but Gene and I traded slices of ours, so we all three ate from the same kind.  It wouldn’t be unheard of for one person to miss the contamination while the other two caught it.

Ironic, yeah?  We worry about contaminated food and water in Ostapy and come across it in the city.

Read more... )
Then it was time for bed.
stevenpiziks: (Fountain)
(Oops. I posted some of the days out of order.  They're properly ordered now.)

I’m back at the hotel for the evening.  Sasha is in Ostapy.

Slept like the dead last night and woke up only because my alarm went off.  I elected not to shower, since I’d done so the previous evening, but Sasha hadn’t washed yesterday, so I made him get into the shower.  He was grouchy and uncooperative, but I persisted.  When he got out and was dressing, he reached for the same red t-shirt he’d worn yesterday.  I told him to put on a nicer one, since he was going to his mother’s house for the first time in six years.  He refused, and we argued.  Eventually he submitted to the nicer shirt, but with bad grace.

In other words, Sasha was frightened and upset.  He always snarls and snaps and pushes back when he’s upset.  Even from the first day we adopted him, he pushed boundaries, testing Kala and me to see if we would set parameters.  And he partly wants to know that I’ll set some boundaries, even as he fights to break them.  So I made him change.

After breakfast, we bought some things for lunch--bread, sausages, peaches, cookies, juice.  Sasha’s family doesn’t have much, and we didn’t want to eat them out of house and home.  Gene had hired a cab--a different one, this time, a Fiat with GPS and AC--and off we went.

The drive was the same as yesterday--roads started off fine, then got progressively worse and worse as we passed farms and farmhouses.  We didn’t speak that much.  I was trying not to think, really.  Yesterday was physically and emotionally exhausting, and today would probably be the same.

At last we arrived at Ostapy.  Read more... )
stevenpiziks: (Fountain)

(Still scamming wifi in Kyiv.)  Photos are posted. (jETA: Photos are now visible to everyone.) (ETA 2: The photos are on Facebook and are theoretically visible to "everyone," but apparently that only means "visible to people who have a Facebook account." I'll see what I can do for non-FB people.)

Totally wiped, but I want to write this before any of it fades.

Breakfast was at the hotel in a little side room.  It’s a community affair, set at a long table.  A waitress brought the three of us plates of open-faced sandwiches of bread, cheese, and salami, with tea to drink.  Then Mom and I went up to my and Sasha’s room to organize the gifts we’d brought for Sasha’s family.  We put them in the big suitcase and brought it downstairs, where the taxi Gene had hired for the day was ready.

The taxi was a brown Soviet-era box.  It was teeny-weeny and about twice the age of the driver, a crew-cut guy in black, tall and lean.  I gave the cab a dubious look, but one thing I learned the first time around is that in Ukraine was you go with what you have and assume everything will be all right.  This isn’t an easy concept for someone like me, whose philosophy is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

We gave Mom the front seat while Sasha, Gene, and I squashed into the back, and off we went.

Read more... )
stevenpiziks: (Fountain)
(I'm in Kyiv and I'm scamming off someone's wifi.)  Photos are posted here.

After the adoption trip itself, this has got to be the scariest trip I’ve ever made.

I’m sitting in the hotel in Korosten as I write this.  It’s 5:23 a.m. local time, and I’ve been awake on and off since 3:30, thanks to jet lag and wondering what the hell is going to happen today.  Sasha is asleep in the other bed, or he’s doing a good job of faking it.  I know he’s more on edge than I am.  I’m nervous on his behalf.  He’s nervous about himself.

Read more... )


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