We're never alone in Ukraine
Finally a hot shower?
Vladyslav entertains us

Mountain Bike Trip Map: July 28, 2006
Day 23-Ukraine, Novohrad-Volyns'kyi-Korosten :
Complete Log entry for Emmanuelle

Chris left for Korosten by 8.30 am this morning. I felt sorry to see him go but I knew i needed a rest so i relaxed and waited for my ride.

My bike and i were attracting a lot of attention, which is not really an advantage when being an alone woman in a foreign country. But i knew i was ok.

I had time to watch people. You can learn a lot from just watching the way people talk, move, interact with the environment. From what I notice and can perceive with my own biased eyes, is that ukrainian are hard working individuals, honest and down to earth. They are who they are! Simple as that. I found them more open and helpful than polish and tchecs. They smile more even though you can tell their life is not easy. Sometimes, feelings of guilt arise within me when i think about the cosy appartment and comfortable life Chris and I have in Switzerland. Never once I questioned the running hot water for a bubble bath! Here hot water is a luxe!

It was 1.15 pm when a green army van (which was gift from the swiss army i was being told later) pulled in front of the bus station.A man came to me and introduced himself in a very official manner as a representative of the Korosten Community Developmental center. He did know much English so he had brought his work labtop which was going to be our translator for the moment.

He gave me the program for the 2 days in Korosten. It was quite the program: visit with the mayor of Korosten, press conference with the local tv, news papers and different specialists in relationship with the different programs for psychosocial rehab and public info on Chernobyl consequences.

On the road we met chris and convinced him to come with us in the van.

He had done 80 km, which was most of the trip.

Vladislav our new friend from Korosten community center drove us to our homestay which was situated outside of Korosten in the country side. Anatoly our host generously inviting us to stay in his farm , an old house which he had been restoring for months. We met with his many dogs and his son, a cute kid who took very seriously his role of host, helping us with our bags and showing us around.

The evening began with an interesting experience. Thanks to our host, we got the chance to experience a real Russian sauna ! A small smoky shack with a floor covered with hay and 3 buckets of different temperature of water and you ve got it! An extreme sparomatherapy! Now some may have been a little bit intimidated by this but for Chris and I having a warm shower was key to our happiness considering that we had had cold water for the past 4 days.

Clean, refreshed we were ready to dig in a huge meal in company of new friends. I had never seen so much food on the table and was excited to taste Ukraine dishes which were a nice change from the chocolate and bread we ve had for the past weeks. Now Ukraine food is tasteless without vodka it seems. I was already preparing myself for the strong taste in my mouth and the fire running though my throat when I was told that ladies were going to have champagne instead. Apparently vodka is a man thing!

Food, toast, vodka, food, toast, vodka…etc I lost count I think there must have been 12 toasts, my head was spinning, I looked at Chris and I could tell his too!

Then Larry, a social worker and physical education, teacher brought his guitar and began to sing folk Ukrainian songs! What a beautiful voice, others joined him. I could only lipsink and sway, hoping that this magic moment would never end…