Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grab A Book Kind of Day

Shannon (linkmate) and I gettin' some rays.

A big hello from a small Ukrainian town. I’m back at site after a little over a week spent at a camp outside Odesa. Camp Bereg (beach) was at a sanatorium about a hour and half our bus ride from Odesa. There was around 30 students and almost as many counselors. It was staffed by Peace Corps Volunteers as well as international volunteers. In my group (The Chocolate Killin’ Pirates), we have leaders from Morocco, Poland, India, China and of course the US of A. It was a 1 to 1 ratio with the campers.

Camp Bereg at Sparonza grounds outside of Odesa.

We were on a lagoon so the beach days we would take a short ferry ride across to nice beach that wasn’t too crowded to take in the sun and the surf. We did other activities such as sports, talent shows, English games and bracelet making. Since there were so many counselors and I had stuff that I needed to get done at site, I decided to peace out a little earlier than scheduled.

Odesa Opera House on a beautiful summer day.

But don’t worry before leaving, I had the time to tour around Odesa with Shannon (linkmate) and Courtney. One of the best things of summer is meeting other volunteers from other areas of Ukraine. Courtney is from a younger group (I am group 37 and I believe she is 39 or 40) and she lives in Crimea which you know from previous posts is quite far from my most northern oblast. Anywho, the three of us made quite the trio. When we had to take a hodge podge way of getting to Odesa after accidentally letting the bus we wanted drive by without flagging it down. We jumped on a marshuka and then went on a wide goose chase for around an hour before getting our path corrected.

Eventually, we got to Odesa. The girls did some standing in train station lines before we hit the streets. We met up with Sam (another PCV that they had just worked a previous camp with) and grabbed some delicious lunch. Camp food is camp food so it was nice to get something that wasn’t koshi or super soft sausages. After lunch, we hit up the musts of Odesa: Opera House, famous steps, Katherine statue, and the port. That was pretty easy considering they were all not more than a block from each other. Also somewhere in that mix we stopped to what I would argue was the best gelato I’ve ever had: chocolate, banana, and mint.

Life is hard for TEFL PCVs in the summer; got to love the beach.

The girls and I got back to camp by 8:30, which was just in time to grab a ride over to the house that we were being switched into. Apparently, there was a dance group coming for the second week of camp and the Ukrainian directors of the camp wanted to house them in our living accommodations and we were switched to a beach house or should I say lagoon house that was a 20 minute walk away from the camp. I think it was a little crappy to make us switch, but it came as no big surprise since earlier in the week we were left on a beach (remember we have to take a ferry) to hide us from Ukrainian health inspectors for 6 hours while the camp was being approved. Oh, did I mention that they didn’t bring us lunch as they had promised. Let’s just say there we some unhappy counselors that day.

Anywho, on Monday evening I grabbed a train back to Kievertsi. It was one of the least enjoyable rides of the summer: 1. It was super hot that day, 2. I had a side top bed on the train, and 3. Ukrainians don’t leave the windows open for the fear that the draft will kill them. It was one hot and sticky ride. In the end, I arrived without suffering from heat stroke Tuesday morning. So I’ve just been chilling.

Shannon and I infront of the famous Potemkin Steps in Odesa.

Yesterday, Val (my site mate) and I caught up over pancakes at my place and then later on in the afternoon I had my “Friends”/Uno Club over to my place.
My plans for the rest of the week are to relax and enjoy some reading in the comfort of my quiet and cool flat. Today it is overcast and low temperatures. So I’m about to get comfortable in my bed and finish reading “The Good Earth.” Hope everyone at home is good. Love and miss you all.


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