Dave the motorhome is still sitting pretty on the gassy driveway of our home away from home – the On The Corner bed and breakfast in Kolomyya, Ukraine.
Last night we went inside for dinner at 8pm and found ourselves sitting with a group of people from the American peace corps. I’d vaguely hear of the organisation, mainly from mentions in films, but didn’t really have much of a clue what they did. It turns out that they are volunteers who live around the world helping to makes people’s lives better and promoting American culture. It made me feel quite shameful as we’ve just spent 19 months wandering around Europe thinking of no one but ourselves.
Switching easily from English to Ukrainian or Russian (depending on which half of they country they are deployed in) they chatted to everyone while I felt something of a physical language barrier between them and the other guests, who were from Ukraine. We all ate very well on dishes freshly prepared by Vitaliy’s Mum from local ingredients. Soup was followed by chicken Kiev with pasta and desert was a home-made chocolate éclair filled with sour cream. It was so nice to be spoiled.
As the evening progressed more and more cans of beer appeared from Dave and disappeared into Jay. Just before midnight I called it a night and headed back to Dave as one of the peace corp guys headed to his room to get some real American whiskey. I have no idea what they spoke about until 2am, and unfortunately neither does Jay! But needless to say it was obviously a great night.
This morning breakfast was at 8.30am, and several thick heads gathered around the table. Freshly made omlettes were the perfect hangover cure, however the sky was grey and with the first splattering of rain the hiking group called off their planned trip for the day. We had managed to opt out of the hike, even before we found out that it was 12km long, our plan was a tad less strenuous; take Charlie for a wander around the town, once we’d dropped off a decent sized bag of laundry with Vitaliy – good job they have a dryer!
The rain was good old English drizzle, nothing we couldn’t cope with, so armed with our umbrella we headed out and found ourselves in an almost deserted town. The crowd outside looking through the packed church doors and the beautiful singing reminded us that it was Sunday, no wonder everywhere was closed. The rain made a bit more of an effort prompting us to take cover under trees and porches as we wandered through the pedestrianised main street.
We were just about to give up and turn back to Dave when we stumbled upon the town’s war memorial. A huge area was filled with two rows of plaques each filled with names of those who died. The rows led in towards a massive steel statue. I can’t believe that almost twelve months ago we paid to go and look around Memorial Park in Budapest, when dotted all over the countryside in Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine are these amazing over-sized statues.
Finally we gave in to the rain and retreated back to Dave, stopping only to listen to a Sunday mass broadcast from another church, the congregation were still arriving and crossing themselves as they entered. We’ve noticed that people cross themselves a lot in Eastern Europe – pretty much every time they pass a church be it on foot, in a car or on the bus, suddenly everyone will synchronise into a series of twitching movements – it makes me smile when they do the ‘church boogie’.
Back at On The Corner We could have gone and hung out in the bed and breakfast, but we were in need of a nap – it was a late night! So this afternoon as the rain bounced off Dave’s roof we snoozed, watched a movie, Skyped and chilled out. Dinner tonight was at 7pm and was once again home-cooked tastiness – chicken with home made noodles in a soup, a lovely meat and potato stew type dish (of which Jay managed two helpings) and a fresh baked cake covered in peach jam. It was all perfect rainy weather comforting food. We’re seriously thinking about kidnapping Vitaliy’s Mum who does all the cooking (an easier alternative might be to take the cooking lessons offered here…)!
Most of the Americans had left earlier in the day, so tonight the two of them who were left (who are currently based in the Crimea), the couple from the Ukraine and us were joined by a Swiss family with three little girls and a French family with two older boys (whom, entertainingly, couldn’t have been any more French-teenage-angst if they’d tried). It’s a busy bed and breakfast and deservedly so, as we’ve been made to feel so at home here. Vitaliy took us into his office and using Google Maps showed us the fastest route to our next destination, Lviv. The fastest route being some 50km longer than the shortest route, but with only about 40km of bad roads – he’s also assured as that there is nothing as bad as the one we drove along yesterday – so we’re feeling a tad more optimistic about our chances of getting Dave out of Ukraine in one piece!
In a scene reminiscent of the TV sitcom Butterflies, we’ve switched places on the drive so we can get off early in the morning. Bed is calling and my freshly laundered pyjamas smell lovely. It’s going to be hard to leave this little sanctuary in Ukraine, and if you ever visit the country please do stop by and meet Vitaliy and his family, like us you’ll be so glad you did.